The Queen and Liz Truss

What had Queen Elizabeth II done in the 1990s that she didn’t over the last two decades? Nobody knows the exact answer. Most likely though, she kept doing what she had been doing. In other words, she probably didn’t change much from the day Liz Truss questioned her status to the day the new British prime minister made a dramatic U-turn on that controversial thinking.

While the world does not know much about the Buckingham Palace realities, it’s safe to say that the global public knows much more about Liz Truss and her long and winding ideological journey during the said period.

The issue of the British monarchy and the British citizenry is always fascinating, and the two women embody that charming and always ironic complexity.

Many ideological changes come with age. That’s why teenagers rebel, only to grow old and rethink and face their own rebellious children later. It’s happening in every household, and the Queen Elizabeth-Liz Truss connection gets scrutinized only because they both are important persons

What the new British political leader said last week is a far cry from what she said in 1994. Let her words speak for themselves. Then: I’m not against any of them (the Royals) personally, [but] I’m against the idea that people can be born to rule, that people, because of the family they are born into, should be the head of state of our country. I think it’s disgraceful.”

Now: “Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign.It is an extraordinary achievement to have presided with such dignity and grace for 70 years. Her life of service stretched beyond most of our living memories. In return, she was loved and admired by the people in the United Kingdom and all around the world.

Which Liz Truss is right? The young version or the old, current one? Again, nobody knows for sure because, for all the outpouring of love, respect, and admiration, little has come out of the royal palace in terms of ultimate truth. There has been the kind of information that made Liz Truss an angry young lady back in 1994 and there must be information that changed her mind, or at least made her think twice.

Different generations have different opinions on the monarchy. Absorbing different information is just one of the reasons. There are other factors, like having ones’ own children who turn mutinous themselves, or simply having watched a King Arthur movie.

Britons want to keep the monarchy and who could blame them? Did the young Liz Truss have the right to oppose that? Definitely yes. Does Prime Minister Liz Truss have the right to uphold the system? Yes, of course.

The late queen probably did not do anything differently from the day Truss uttered the word “disgraceful”, but many things have fought it out inside the mind of the female politician ever since. She used to be a former Liberal Democrat activist, who marched against Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, but now claims to be, in the words of BBC, “the keeper of the Thatcherite flame.”

Britain’s King Charles III during his first audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss at Buckingham Palace, London, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Yui Mok/Pool photo via AP)

According to the British media outlet, as a young girl, her mother took her on marches for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, an organization vehemently opposed to the Thatcher government’s decision to allow US nuclear warheads to be installed at RAF Greenham Common, west of London. Now her position calls for her to be Washington’s closest ally.

A significant part of her young life was in Leeds, where she attended Roundhay, a state secondary school. She has described seeing “children who failed and were let down by low expectations” during her time there. Many have disputed her account of the school, with some claiming she perhaps was selectively deploying her upbringing, and casually traducing the school and teachers who nurtured her, for simple political gain.

It was a good school, some former students were quoted as saying. But at the school and later at Oxford University, Truss was remembered as a hard-working and zealous young woman who liked to ask tough questions, challenge the authorities and read philosophy, economics and politics. She also supported the legalization of cannabis.

There must be some lies involved, either by her or her enemies. But, to be optimistic, all that was part of the quest for political perfection which has been ongoing since the end of the Roman Empire. Whether Truss’ change of heart about the monarchy is sincere or has something to do with politics, it’s part of a highly-complex evolution. Even the ideologies that forged the young Truss and the older one are parts of the evolution, too.  

Future historians must look at this present not as a “definite” formula but as a transition or soul-searching period. Liz Truss was searching then, and she obviously is still searching now.

By Tulsathit Taptim


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