Hereditas Historiae

Website hosted by Irène Diependaal to foster some historical knowledge necessary to understand our present times


On monarchy and royalty

Queen Elizabeth, the "Lightness of Being" - 3D-portrait by Chris Levine (2007) - National Portrait Gallery, London

Reflecting on his own ejection from power, the English­ educated King Farouk of Egypt famously predicted that by the end of the twentieth century there would be only five monarchies left in the world: the kings of hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades and the King of England. The remark has the whiff of cigary worldliness about it that enabled Farouk to pretend that his own overthrow was the result of irresistible forces of history. In fact his departure from Cairo to the fleshpots of Monaco had as much to do with the fact that he was a pampered, kleptomaniac lard mountain: it was enough to look at his fat face and elaborately waxed moustache to want to punch his nose. But his moustache was sharper than his mind. He was right about the British monarchy, which survived into the twenty-first century because, by force majeure and good sense, its shape and powers had been trimmed and trimmed again, having learned the lesson of the great republican Thomas Paine that kings are deposed in the hearts of their subjects long before they are got rid of by legislative decree.’ (Jeremy Paxman, On royalty (2006)


A lot of words has been written over the British constitutional monarchy and especially the persons who were part of the British royal family in recent times. This section of Hereditas Historia only wants to offer a small selection close to the research areas of Irène Diependaal.

The selection starts with an article of The Economist, written on occasion of the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. According to this article Spain, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Portugal, Greece all presented practically the same type of constitutional monarchy. After more than 20 years of research, Irène Diependaal thinks the situation is more complex, but it is an interesting article to start an selection of voices of journalists who followed the British monarchy in recent times. Irène Diependaal doesn’t share all the opinions of the journalists. The voices are collected because of the thoughtfulness of the contributors, who changed opinion in time, and the quality of the argumentative analysis at time of writing. Some collected materials give background information to people - part of the British nation or part of an international audience - who don’t read a broad range of British newspapers daily.

Artist Chris Levine poses next to his lenticular image of Queen Elizabeth during a press view at the National Portrait Gallery.