British monarchy

Studying of modern political system of Great Britain, constitutional monarchy, its influence on the country. The reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second. The changes in Monarchy in the United Kingdom. The line between an old and new monarchy.

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British monarchy


monarchy queen political british

The subject of my work is the studying of modern political system of Great Britain, constitutional monarchy, its influence on the country and importance. The object of my work is the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second. I choose this theme for my work because I found interesting to make a research of changes in such far-away country as England, in which society and political system in many aspects differs from my country. The theme is up-to-date because Elizabeth the second is the main branch of representative government in Great Britain today.

The main aim of this work is to observe on the changes in Monarchy in the United Kingdom and I take a person of Elizabeth the second as an example of functions and values of a monarchy today. The aim of this paper is lead the line between an old and new monarchy and to consider Elizabeth the second as result of changes which have occurred on this way. I plan to carry out the analysis of the Victorian era and to compare it to Elizabeth the second board. I am going to pay special attention to political activity of these queens. The novelty of my research consists in a new view from the person living in other country, doing conclusions following from the facts collected from various sources. To write this work I studied a question from all sides with particular focus on history literature. The structure of the work consists of the following parts: introduction, chapters, conclusion and the list of the used literature. This introduction to my work is based on the choice of the theme, the actuality of the aim and specific problems, which I plan to open in my research.

1. The concept of monarchy, a consistent history in the UK

The British monarchy is one of the older established monarchies in the world, and although the monarchy has changed quite a bit in the intervening centuries, the British monarch is still one of the most recognizable world figures. When most peoples think of a king or queen, they think about the British monarch.

Let's start with a definition of the monarchy.

The word monarch (Latin: monarcha) comes from the Greek words monбrkhзs (from monos, «one/singular,» and бrkhф, «to rule») which referred to a single, at least nominally absolute ruler. In current usage the word monarchy generally refers to a traditional system of hereditary rule, as elective monarchies are rare in the modern period.

Monarchy is a form of government when the throne is inherited or forced upon one person, who is set apart from all of his subjects. Currently, 44 nations in the world have monarchs as heads of state, 16 of which are Commonwealth realms that recognize Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. There are several types of monarchy in the world: Absolute monarchy, Constitutional monarchy, Diarchy, Elective monarchy, Hereditary monarchy, Non-Sovereign Monarchy, Self-proclaimed monarchy. The main types are Absolute monarchy and Constitutional Monarchy. Let's consider them in more detail.

Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government; his or her powers are not limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch wields unrestricted political power over the sovereign state and its people. Absolute monarchies are often hereditary but other means of transmission of power are attested. Absolute monarchy differs from limited monarchy, in which the monarch's authority is legally bound or restricted by a constitution; consequently, an absolute monarch is an autocrat.

In the modern world countries where the monarch still maintains absolute power are Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, and Vatican City.

Constitutional monarchy (or limited monarchy) is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the guidelines of a constitution. This form of government differs from absolute monarchy in which an absolute monarch serves as the source of power in the state and is not legally bound by any constitution and has the powers to regulate his or her respective government.

Most constitutional monarchies employ a parliamentary system in which the monarch may have strictly ceremonial duties or may have reserve powers, depending on the constitution. Under most modern constitutional monarchies there is also a prime minister who is the head of government and exercises effective political power. There also exist today several federal constitutional monarchies. In these countries, each subdivision has a distinct government and head of government, but all subdivisions share a monarch who is head of state of the federation as a united whole.

Contemporary constitutional monarchies include: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bahrain, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, Grenada, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Spain, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Further it will be a question of last of the list.

The monarchy of the United Kingdom (commonly referred to as the British monarchy) is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The title of the monarch is king or queen. The monarch and immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial, diplomatic, and representational duties. As the monarchy is constitutional, the monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours and appointing the Prime Minister. The monarch is by tradition Commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. Though the ultimate formal executive authority over the government of the United Kingdom is still by and through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament, and, in practice, within the constraints of convention and precedent.

The British monarchy traces its origins from the Kings of the Angles and the early Scottish Kings. By the year 1000, the kingdoms of England and Scotland had developed from the petty kingdoms of early medieval Britain. The last Anglo-Saxon monarch (Harold II) was defeated and killed in the Norman invasion of 1066 and the English monarchy passed to the Norman conquerors. In the thirteenth century, the principality of Wales was absorbed by England, and Magna Carta began the process of reducing the political powers of the monarch.

From 1603, when the Scottish King James VI inherited the English throne as James I, both kingdoms were ruled by a single monarch. From 1649 to 1660 the tradition of monarchy was broken by the republican Commonwealth of England that followed the War of the Three Kingdoms. The Act of Settlement 1701, which is still in force, excluded Roman Catholics, or those who marry Catholics, from succession to the English throne. In 1707 the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged to create the Kingdom of Great Britain and in 1801 the Kingdom of Ireland joined to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The British monarch became nominal head of the vast British Empire, which covered a quarter of the world's surface at its greatest extent in 1921.

In the 1920s, five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the Union as the Irish Free State, and the Balfour Declaration recognized the evolution of the dominions of the empire into separate, self-governing countries within a Commonwealth of Nations. After the Second World War, the vast majority of British colonies and territories became independent, effectively bringing the empire to an end. George VI and his successor, Elizabeth II, adopted the title Head of the Commonwealth as a symbol of the free association of its independent member states.

The Commonwealth includes both republics and monarchies. Several other Commonwealth countries (fifteen as of 2012) share with the United Kingdom the same person as their monarch. The terms «British monarchy» and «British monarch» are frequently still employed in reference to the person and institution shared amongst all sixteen of the Commonwealth realms, and to the distinct monarchies within each of these independent countries, often at variance with the different, specific, and official national titles and styles for each jurisdiction.

Until the end of the 17th Century, British monarchs were executive monarchs giving them the power to make and pass legislation. Since the beginning of the 18th Century, the monarch became a constitutional monarch, binding them with rules and conventions and ensuring their political impartiality. Since the reign of Queen Victoria the monarchy's direct and effective constitutional power has remain limited and Monarch's act largely on the advice of ministers. Here begins the history of the constitutional monarchy in Great Britain.

2. The Development of a Constitutional Monarchy in Britain

England experienced a constitutional crisis in the seventeenth century. As a result of the crisis, English political development ran counter to the trend toward absolutism and turned instead toward a constitutional monarchy. Many of the constitutional guarantees that citizens of the United States take for granted today were products of this period.

The death of Elizabeth I in 1603 ended the Tudor line. She had never married and had no children. The crown went accordingly to her nearest male relative, James Stuart. The son of Mary, Queen of Scots, he was then King James VI of Scotland. He came to England and assumed the title of King James I, beginning the Stuart line of English kings.

The ascension of James Stuart also marked the beginning of the English constitutional crisis. He was a confirmed believer in royal prerogatives and had published a book in 1598 (The True Law of Free Monarchies) that defended both the divine right of kings and absolutism. To compound matters, he was not an Englishman (he was a Scot) and did not appreciate England's laws, customs, or traditions. The English tradition of parliamentary participation in the decision-making process, which dated from Edward I's convening of the Model Parliament in 1295, was one of the things that James I neither understood nor appreciated. James believed in order, uniformity in state and Church-and his own royal power, called the «prerogative».

The seventeenth-century crisis also included a strong religious element. The Anglican Church had borrowed much of its structure from the Catholic Church. This structure had remained in a hierarchical fashion by both the Act of Supremacy and the Thirty-Nine Articles. There were English religious reformers who felt that the Anglican Church resembled the Catholic Church too closely and who wanted additional reforms. In particular, they wanted to reduce the Anglican Church's centralization. James I adamantly opposed these reform efforts. He believed that the Church's hierarchical organization was one of the underpinnings of his own power as monarch. At a meeting called to discuss possible reductions in the Church's centralization, James I supposedly pounded the table and screamed, «No bishop, no king!» He also refused to compromise with the dissident Puritans, as the clever, pragmatic Elizabeth I had done. James threatened to «Harry them (the Puritans) out of the Kingdom.»

James I ruled England from 1603 until 1625. He was succeeded by his son, Charles I, during whose reign the crisis came to a head. To further complicate matters, Charles had married the sister of Louis XIII of France, a Catholic. (His father earlier had tried to arrange a match with the daughter of England's Catholic arch rival, the King of Spain.) To say that this marriage was unpopular in England would be an understatement. It was not the king's marriage, however, that triggered the crisis. The immediate cause was the king's attempt to gain sources of income that would make him independent of Parliament.

Charles I believed that he had the power to tax, but the English Parliament traditionally granted taxes to the king. Charles did not want to ask Parliament for money because he feared having to make concessions in order to obtain it. Since the lower house of Parliament, the House of Commons, was the center of both political and religious opposition to the Stuarts, Charles did not call a session of Parliament from 1629 until 1640. During this period, he continued to collect tax revenues from sources that did not require Parliamentary approval. Theoretically, he wanted to expand his prerogative as King and to make Parliament more subservient to royal demand.

James I had brought Scotland into the English fold when he assumed the throne. Scotland had been converted to Calvinistic theology in the sixteenth century by John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism, but James I had never been enthusiastic about Presbyterianism. (Calvinism's stress on the independence of the church from state control was one source of his disenchantment.) When Charles I tried to impose even more ritualized and hierarchical Anglican practices and structures on the Presbyterian Scots (especially the Anglican Book of Common Prayer), they rebelled and invaded northern England. Not having enough money to raise an army to fight the Scots, Charles I was forced to call Parliament into session to finance the war. In effect, Charles I had admitted his reliance on Parliament.

The members of Parliament, led by the local gentry in the House of Commons, refused to grant Charles money until he redressed their grievances. Under the leadership of John Pym, Parliament passed a series of laws in 1640 and 1641 that limited monarchical powers. (Charles had dismissed the session earlier, but was forced to reconvene it due to public outrage and the Scottish invasion.) Upset, the king still hoped to take advantage of differences of opinion within the Parliament. He eventually sent troops to arrest the body's more outspoken members. This action so angered Parliament's members that when he went to Nottingham to rally royalist forces, they declared war on the king. The civil war that followed lasted from 1642 until 1648.

Let's take a closer look at The English Civil War.

The English Civil War was fought over three basic issues: political, economic, and religious. The political issue centered on the question of the exercise of power. It contrasted the absolutist position of the Stuarts with the legislative ambitions of Parliament. The economic issue centered on the practice of arbitrary royal taxation. The religious issue centered on the demand for greater reform within the Anglican Church. The attempts to de-Catholicize the Church of England were led by a group of Calvinists called Puritans, which is why the English Civil War is also called the Puritan Revolution, or the Puritan Rebellion. All three issues were interrelated and centered on the nature of the relationship between the king and Parliament.

The Parliamentary forces won the English Civil War. The major reason for their success was the creation of the New Model Army by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell and his staff were Puritans who combined religious fanaticism with significant military skills. When the war ended, the New Model Army and its leader controlled the state. Cromwell sought to establish a government that was in accord with Puritan principles. He began by purging Parliament of its Presbyterian members. The resulting Rump Parliament condemned and ordered the execution of Charles I. It also abolished both kingship and the House of Lords.

The new form of government was called the Commonwealth. Against his will and inclinations, Cromwell assumed control of it, convinced that there was no other way to preserve the ideals for which he had fought. By 1653, Cromwell found himself unable to get along with even the Rump Parliament and disbanded it. He then established a military dictatorship and attempted to impose Puritan mores on the entire population. It is ironic that Cromwell arrived at a position of power that was more absolute than any ever held by Charles I whose absolute power he resisted.

Cromwell died in 1658. Some looked to his son Richard, or others to provide the leadership Cromwell had provided. All failed. Finally, in 1660, a new parliament was elected that voted to restore the monarchy. The son of Charles I was invited to return as king. On paper, the new version of the monarchy looked like the old one, but things could never be the same. The new king, Charles II, could hardly avoid remembering the fate of his father. Although he himself had absolutist ambitions, the possibilities of execution or exile made him cautious.

So religion was again a central issue. The Anglican Church having been restored, as well, both Puritans and Catholics were the targets of new and harsh legislation. Charles, who had spent his exile in Louis XIV's France, was sympathetic to Catholicism. He issued a Declaration of Indulgence in 1673 that overruled Parliament's laws against Puritanism and Catholicism. Parliament responded with the Test Act, which required that all civil and military positions be open only to members of the Anglican Church. Charles ruled without Parliament for the last four years of his reign. He was able to live without Parliamentary revenue because he received financial assistance from Louis XIV.

Parliament established a legal justification for the change in monarchs the next year in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, which formed the legal basis for constitutional monarchy, contained sections that defined the rights of citizens, the rights of Parliament, and what was called negative rights. Negative rights were powers that the monarch could not exercise without Parliamentary consent. They included making or suspending laws, interfering with the administration of justice, levying taxes, and maintaining a standing army. Citizens were assured that they had the right to petition their monarch, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to a trial by jury. Parliament was assured that the election of its members would be free and unhampered, that there would be freedom of debate in its chambers, and that the body would meet on a regular basis. Parliament was not yet more powerful than the ruling monarch, but its right to act had been established.

Parliament also passed the Toleration Act. It granted all Protestants the right to free public worship. Since the Test Act remained on the books, the Anglican Church remained in a favored position. While there was not complete religious freedom, the Toleration Act marked the beginning of the decline of religion as an issue in English history.

If one were to attempt an assessment of the events of the seventeenth century in England, certain conclusions seem inescapable. Parliament had seriously weakened the theory of the divine right of kings and had established a firm Parliamentary right to participate in the affairs of government. Still, the Parliament of 1689 was certainly not the Parliament of today. The English government was not a democratic one. The House of Lords was open only to the hereditary nobility and the House of Commons was largely made up of the landed gentry, who were elected by less than ten percent of the population. There were property requirements for voting. Nevertheless, the seventeenth century in England was a significant early step in the direction of a more democratic government.

The Parliament had become the central institution of English government by 1690, when James II was decisively defeated. The religious settlement was not tolerant or fair but it comprehended most English and Scottish Protestants. After years of tumult and conflict, England entered a period of stability, prosperity, and «limited» government. In retrospect, three important trends were in place in the British Isles by 1715: capitalistic modernization of trade and commerce; the Union of Scotland with England and Wales (1707); and a notable increase in scientific and technological work symbolized by the Royal Society (1660).

3. Elizabeth II

In this chapter I want to take away a place for Elizabeth II biography, to the description of the main stages of her private life.

Elizabeth II is the current reigning monarch of England. In order to fully understand the reign of Elizabeth, one must learn about the influence her early years had on her accomplishments as a monarch, her marriage and the roles that the members of her family has had throughout England, as well as the changes in the monarchy that the country has seen throughout her rule.

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21, 1926 in London, England. She was the oldest child of her parents, the Duke and Duchess of the Royal House of Windsor. Her mother was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and her father would later become King George VI. After her father and her Uncle Edward, Elizabeth was third in sequence to inherit the throne, and it was thought very unlikely that she would ever inherit the throne (Ross 176).

Traditionally, the royal children were educated privately, and although this was the case for Elizabeth and Margaret also, their parents were considering sending them to school at one point. This was one of the ways that the Duke and Duchess hoped to raise their daughters like normal citizens, even though they were royalty. Among the tutors that were hired to teach the girls were Marion Crawford and Henry Marten. Marten was a noted historian of the time, and he taught Elizabeth constitutional law (Von Bergen).

Animals were a great passion of Elizabeth, and her family got their first pet dog when she was seven years old. Later on, she decided that she would eventually get married to a farmer, so that she would be able to be around animals.

Later on Elizabeth's family moved to Buckingham Palace. While they were there, a Girl Guides troop was formed there, which consisted of about thirty girls. Girl Guides is an organization that compares to Girl Scouts in America.

The princesses were popular social images throughout England. Elizabeth and Margaret (Elizabeth's sister) both were featured on many different items, including stamps, dinner plates, and even on the covers of «TIME» magazine. A statue of Elizabeth riding a horse was featured at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum (Von Bergen).

When Britain went to war with Germany in 1939, the Princesses had to move to Scotland in order to stay protected. Later on they were moved closer to their parents at Windsor Castle. Elizabeth addressed all of the British children over the radio to encourage them to remain courageous on October 31, 1940.

Elizabeth was also involved in many organizations. One of her aspirations was to become more active in the war efforts, «as other girls my age do». She registered for the wartime youth service plan when she was sixteen years old in April of 1942. One of her first tasks was to inspect a Grenadier Guard regiment. She was actually able to serve in the military when she turned eighteen.

Elizabeth was only thirteen years old when she met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, who was her eighteen year old third cousin. It was when she was part of the Auxiliary Transport Service that they met. The two of them were friends for several years before they became interested in each other romantically.

Prince Philip was born in Corfu in 1921 and he received his education at the Scottish school.

As Elizabeth and Philip became closer in their relationship, they considered the possibility of marriage. Elizabeth's father didn't want her to make a hasty decision, especially since she had met very few men. He therefore made her wait until after she turned twenty-one years old before getting engaged. The couple then got engaged on July 10, 1947 and received the blessing of the monarch.

On November 20, 1947, Elizabeth was married to Philip at Westminster Abbey. They traveled to many different areas for their honeymoon, including Paris. However, Elizabeth's father, George VI, was becoming quite ill. While the newlywed couple was in Kenya, word made it to them that he had passed away, and they left to return to England immediately. Elizabeth was only twenty-five years old at this time, which was the same age that Elizabeth I had been when she became queen.

At Elizabeth's Coronation, thousands of people spent all night waiting to see the royal procession at Westminster Abbey. She was crowned as «Elizabeth the Second, by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith».

After she became queen, she and Prince Philip went on their first grand tour, which lasted six months. On this, they traveled all over to place including Canada, Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Aden, Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar (Von Bergen).

Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II were very different with their portrayals to their subjects. Although they both made themselves public to England, Elizabeth I spent more time traveling throughout the country, while Elizabeth II used more modern approaches. These modern methods of communication included television, films, and radio. While Elizabeth II was ruling, «walkabouts» were introduced, which was where ordinary citizens were allowed to stop and talk with her in public. In this way, she modernized the British monarchy without causing it harm.

Elizabeth was very serious with her new role as the Head of the Commonwealth Countries. She made her identity well known to the public through modern communication methods, and she helped maintain relationships with other countries. This was accomplished by her hosting conferences for the different leaders and touring the countries.

Although Elizabeth had many positive achievements, she started off her rule with some negative gossip regarding the royal family. In 1955, there were rumors that Princess Margaret would be marrying Peter Townsend, who had been involved in a divorce case. These rumors became so numerous that it forced Margaret to formally announce that she would not be marrying him. She said this using her church teachings and constitutional position as her support. However, it still shocked people who felt that the idea of their union should never have been considered. Margaret later on became engaged to Anthony Armstrong-Jones. The whole incident in many ways portrayed how the royalty shared common life style aspects with average citizens, although the amount of attention that was given to the situation could be seen as «unfair and irrelevantly damaging»

In 1957, the Queen was criticized directly by Lord Altrincham of the National Review, who wrote an article attacking the queen. In this he wrote, «The Queen has a manner of public speaking that is a pain in the neck and she has the voice of a priggish schoolgirl. She is out of touch with the modern world and her advisers are a tweedy entourage who know nothing of life outside the restricted circle of the Establishment».

In another instance, Elizabeth had made a request to her Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, to form a government after the resignation of Sir Anthony Eden in one of the positions. Her actions were in accordance with the Constitution, and she had also been in discussion with the Cabinet on the issue.

In 1963, she held discussions with members of the Conservative Party regarding the successor of Macmillan. An ideal candidate named R.A. Butler seemed like a logical choice, although Macmillan was greatly opposed to the idea. He made it his goal to work to prevent this, even though he caused his party's defeat in 1964. This left Sir Alec Douglas-Home to succeed the position.

Ever since 1957, the monarchy has had less influence in politics and constitutional matters. They now serve more as a role model to citizens, and work to reflect about current issues in the press and on television. The influence of the British monarch has also been present in every day families.

Queen Elizabeth's eldest son, Charles, was born on November 14, 1948 at Buckingham Palace. He was the first heir to the British throne that was sent away to receive his education. He studied at Godonstoun, which was his father's old school in Scotland, where he learned to interact with other young men. Charles later continued to life as an undergraduate at Trinity College and Cambridge. Later on he joined the Royal Navy. On July 1, 1969, he had his Investiture Ceremony as Prince of Wales at Caernavon Castle.

Because of Charles' success after being sent away for school, both of his younger brothers were educated at Gordonstoun, as well. Their son Prince Andrew was born on February 19, 1960 and their next son Prince Edward was born on March 10, 1964. Princess Anne, however, was sent to the girls' public school Benenden.

The 1970's held many significant events for the royalty of England. On November 20, 1972, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.

During the 1980's, the public became very interested in the British royalty.

However, a month before the wedding took place, the Queen was shot at in public. Luckily the bullets used were blanks, but it did create a scare.

The year 1992 marked what Elizabeth declared an «Annus Horribilus» or «horrible year». In this year, Prince Andrew ended his marriage, Charles and Diana separated, and there was a fire at Windsor Castle.

Around this time, Elizabeth II made a choice that made a great distinction between her reign and that of the royal monarchs before her. Even though she was royalty, she opted to taxes just like a normal citizen. Previously, members of the royal family had been exempt from paying taxes.

Elizabeth has taken many tours throughout her rule, including Ghana in 1961, Canada in 1964, and Australia in 1992. At times, members of the public questioned the necessity of these trips, especially with the later royal generations. As of 1993, she was still acknowledged as the Head of the State by Canada and Australia, even though her actual influence in state decisions was becoming lesser. Unity is the symbol of the monarchy that Canada valued, even if it may not be a very strong force.

During the next decade, the Queen had several more important events occur. In 1997, Elizabeth and Phillip celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at Buckingham Palace. However, the following year, Diana died in a car crash in Paris. Although she was already divorced from Charles, Elizabeth spent a great deal of effort consoling her grandchildren over their mother's death (Von Bergen).

In 2002, Elizabeth celebrated her Golden Jubilee at age seventy-six, and she became one of the five British monarchs to ever reach that goal. In celebration, she rode a 300-year-old golden coach to a church service at St. Paul's Cathedral. Among the celebrations that were taking place around this event was a national sing-along of The Beatles' song «All You Need is Love» (Von Bergen).

The next monarch who is in line for the throne is Elizabeth's son, Prince Charles. He has earned support for several reasons including his experiences in business, architecture, and the environment. The support that the public has shown towards Elizabeth's heir shows that the line of monarch's will likely continue throughout the twenty first century.

4. Elizabeth the second board and Victorian era

In this chapter I want to compare the period of reign of Queen Victoria and the period of reign of Elizabeth the second. My comparison of the periods will be based on quality of political actions carried out by these queens at the time of their reign. My choice fell to queen Victoria as she was female Elizabeth's last predecessor. At first I want to shed light on the identity of queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 - 22 January 1901) was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India.

Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke of Kent and King George III died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her German-born mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died leaving no legitimate, surviving children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the Sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments. Publicly, she became a national icon, and was identified with strict standards of personal morality.

Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the nickname «the grandmother of Europe». After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.

Her reign of 63 years and seven months, which is longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history, is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. She was the last British monarch of theHouse of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.

Now I want to describe an era of Queen Victoria.

Culturally there was a transition away from the rationalism of the Georgian period and toward romanticism and mysticism with regard to religion, social values, and the arts. In international relations the era was a long period of peace, known as the Pax Britannica, and economic, colonial, and industrial consolidation, temporarily disrupted by the Crimean War in 1854. The end of the period saw the Boer War. Domestically, the agenda was increasingly liberal with a number of shifts in the direction of gradualpolitical reform, industrial reform and the widening of the voting franchise.

Two especially important figures in this period of British history are the prime ministers Gladstone and Disraeli, whose contrasting views changed the course of history. Disraeli, favoured by the queen, was a gregarious Tory. Gladstone, his rival distrusted by the Queen, a Liberal, served more terms and oversaw much of the overall law-making of the era.

Lets compare general characteristics of the periods of reign.

The Victorian era. (1837-1901)

The population of England almost doubled from 16.8 million in 1851 to 30.5 million in 1901. Scotland's population also rose rapidly, from 2.8 million in 1851 to 4.4 million in 1901. Ireland's population decreased rapidly, from 8.2 million in 1841 to less than 4.5 million in 1901, mostly due to the Great Famine. At the same time, around 15 million emigrants left the United Kingdom in the Victorian era and settled mostly in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

The Victorian era was a time of unprecedented demographic increase in England. The population rose from 13.897 million in 1831 to 32.528 million in 1901. Two major factors affecting population growth are fertility rates and mortality rates. England was the first country to undergo the Demographic transition and the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions.

Victoria's foreign policy was conducted at very strong level, but I want to go deep into domestic policy.

Elizabeth the second reign. (1952-)

The reign of Elizabeth II has been no less eventful or hazardous for Britain than that of her Tudor predecessor. It has included war, political and social upheaval, and one threat that the first Elizabeth did not have to defend herself against - the attacks of an intrusive and often malicious mass media.

When her father died in 1952 Elizabeth was in Kenya with her husband, Prince Philip. It was the start of a trip that should have taken her to the furthest points of the Empire and Commonwealth, a demanding job which, in subsequent years, would make her the most travelled monarch in British history.

With the support of her husband, Prince Philip, shemade her family more accessible, encouraging them in their public duties and providing opportunities for media coverage. During her reign she has worked with ten Prime Ministers representing Conservative and Labour governments, and has lived through the labour crises of the three-day week, miners and newspaper strikes, and the problem of Northern Ireland and the Falklands War.

In 1997, faced with the breakdown of marriages in the royal family she swept away former accusations that the monarchy had little in common with ordinary people, by referring to a year of unhappiness in her own family as the Annus Horribilis. There are few though who would not agree that the young woman who became a Queen at the age of twenty-five has made a success of a very difficult job.

Now we will pass to the list key to events of these periods, and also the carried-out actions.

The most significant events of the Victorian era:

1837 - Houses of Parliament built

The first photograph taken, by Louis Daguerre in France and William Henry Fox-Talbot in Britain.

1839-1842 Britain defeated China in the Opium War and made China sign the Treaty of Nanking. Britain was given Hong Kong.

1840 - Britain claims New Zealand as a colony to head off proposed French settlements.

1840 - Queen Victoria married Prince Albert

1841 - The Great Western Railway from Bristol to London was completed offering a journey of only four hours.

1843 - Britain claims the former Boer republic of Natal as a British colony.

1843 - Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol. It sold out completely in 6 days.

1844 - The Factory Act stops children between 8 and 13 working more than 6.5 hours a day.

1844-1845-8,000 km of railway track built across Britain

1851 - Census showed just over half of Britain's population (of 20 million) lived in towns

1851 - London is now Britain's largest city, with 2.4 million

1854-1856 - The Crimean War fought by Britain and France against Russia

1856 - Britain defeated Russia in the Crimean War

1863 - The first underground railway is opened in London.

1864 - The last public hanging

1870 - Schools provided for 5 - 10 year olds

1876 - Queen Victoria was crowned the Empress of India

1876 - Scotsman Alexander Bell invented the telephone

1878 - The first public electric lighting in London

1881 - London's Natural History Museum opened

1883 - January - Britain takes complete control of Egypt.

1883 - First electric railway

1887 - Britain establishes the colony of Nigeria in Africa.

1891 - Free education for every child aged 5-13

1901 - Queen Victoria died. Her son, Edward VII, became King.

And now key events during the reign of Elizabeth II:

1952 - Elizabeth accedes to the throne on the death of her father George VI.

1953 - Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climb Everest just before Coronation Day.

1955 - Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by Anthony Eden.

1957 - Harold Macmillan succeeds Eden as Prime Minister.

1959 - Oil is discovered in the North Sea.

1963 - Alec Douglas-Hume replaces Harold Macmillan as Prime Minister. The Beatles release their first LP.

1964 - Labour government of Harold Wilson takes office.

1969 - Charles invested as Prince of Wales.

1970 - Edward Heath becomes Conservative Prime Minister.

1971 - Decimal currency is introduced.

1973 - Britain joins the European Community.

1974 - Harold Wilson returns as Prime Minister.

1979 - Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain's first woman Prime Minister.

1981 - Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer.

1982 - Unemployment tops three million. Britain goes to war with Argentina over control of the Falkland Islands.

1989-90 - Poll tax introduced amid widespread protest.

1990 - Margaret Thatcher resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by John Major.

1996 - Both the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of York divorce.

1997 - Labour Party under Tony Blair ends 18 years of Conservative government. Hong Kong reverts to China after 155 years of British rule.

1998 - Structure of Millennium Dome completed.

1999 - National Maritime Museum reopens after being refurbished.

2000 - Queen Mother celebrates her 100th birthday.

2001 - Prince William starts at St Andrews University.

2002 - Queen Elizabeth marks 50 years of rule. Princess Margaret dies.

On the basis of the descriptions provided by me and lists we can draw a conclusion. The Victorian era differs lack of large wars, the successful international relations and contacts, and also prosperity of foreign trade. It should be noted stability of economy at queen Victoria. It is necessary to mention such inventions of the Victorian era as telegraph and the steamship. During the Victorian era the concept of respectability became stronger, ideals of family life revived. While time of reign of Elizabeth the second can't brag of such achievements. Elizabeth the second political activity is insignificant, therefore, the foreign policy doesn't walk forward. The role of the queen for the country and the people undoubtedly changed. But you shouldn't forget that Elizabeth the second reign still proceeds.

5. Now, what is the role of the monarchy in modern Britain?

The monarch is Head of State and the Commonwealth. The Monarch has power to confer peerages, knighthoods and other honours. The Monarch has powers to enact legislation as well as to summon and dissolve parliament. The Monarch appoints the prime minister and has the right to be consulted, 'advise and warn'.

The Monarch plays important constitutional roles in other organizations, including the Armed Forces and the Church of England. The monarch is commander of the armed forces; soldiers will swear allegiance to the crown rather than to the state. In this sense, the monarchy is «intelligible» as she is the personification of the British State. People can swear loyalty to the state, a social construction, via the monarchy. The Monarch is also Governor of the Church of England.

As well as the constitutional role, the monarch also has a non constitutional role. As well as carrying out significant constitutional functions, the Queen acts as a focus for national unity, presiding at ceremonial occasions, visiting local communities and representing Britain around the world.

The majority of the Queen's workload consists of representing the state at home and abroad. This helps raise the profile of the nation, and attracts the interest of the foreign public and media. They provide a focus, and a great deal of apolitical continuity. They are a figurehead for the country and foreigners are fascinated by them.

One of the key defenses of the monarchy is that she attracts tourism, and without her role, raising the profile of the nation overseas, and representing the UK in an apolitical role, tourism would suffer.

An important intangible and non-constitutional role of the monarchy is acting as a symbolic figurehead for the country. The monarchy is the symbolic head of Britain representing the `intelligible part of the constitution' for the average Briton. A survey showed 50% of people said they felt the monarchy made them feel more British and 48% of people saw the most important role of the monarchy as a figurehead for the country. (See Appendix I).

Obviously, the monarch is clearly in a privileged position within society. The crown has had declining influence over the past century, but nevertheless remains integral to the British system. What the British monarchy really represents for elite theorists is personification of Britain's aristocratic elite; Oxbridge educated top tier civil servants and judges, and the `traditional values' they stand for. The Queen may not have direct authority over politics, but the continued existence of the monarchy helps the British ruling elite maintain the status quo.

The monarchy provides a link with history for the modern British citizen.


This paper is dedicated to the political system of the United Kingdom of great Britain and to the identity of the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second.

The research proves that monarchy in Great Britain at present is on a bigger measure a royalty symbol, also there is a tribute of history of Great Britain. We were convinced of it having studied Elizabeth the second biography and having considered the list of political actions during her board. Having carried out the comparative analysis of two eras and queens (see chapter IV), we could draw this conclusion. I can support the conclusion with opinion of the public (see appendix).

According to the stated aim, the tasks of the object of the study are as follows:

1. To define concept of a monarchy

2. To consider Elizabeth the second identity, the present Queen of Great Britain

3. To draw an analogy between two eras, (The Victorian era and the period of board of Elizabeth the second), to make comparison and to come to a final conclusion which showed that today the monarchy in England has generally symbolical value.


1. John Arlott, John Snagge, Sir Gerald W. Wollaston. ELITHABETH CROWNED QUEEN. Ohdans press 2006.


3. Monarchy/Monarchies_today


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