Queen Elizabeth II’s death and celebration of soft power

DDG Weekly Column

Queen Elizabeth II’s death and celebration of soft power

One of the reasons for beaming a comparative searchlight on the fortunes, travails and vicissitudes of other nations is that, for those who care, they show examples or best practices of how developing nations should best evolve. This is not to say, as modernisation theorists once assumed, that all nations should travel the same road to greatness. That notwithstanding, advanced nations constitute a repository of knowledge which can guide up-and-coming nations. Consider for instance how marvellously and gently Britain went through two important political transitions. The first, from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson who left office in disgrace to Liz Truss, his successor, the second is the passing on at 95 of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the ascension to the throne of the heir apparent, Charles III, her son. In point of fact, her last constitutional act was to accept the resignation of Johnson and to affirm Truss, giving her the nod to constitute a cabinet.

There must be some dexterity, even genius of orderliness for a country to manage those delicate transitions with such decorum and civility. Like a colleague bantered to me a few days back in some other countries very easy to guess Truss’s rivals would probably be in court challenging the legality of her emergence while the flamboyant Prince Williams might also have been making political noises about his father, who is 73, being too old to succeed his grandmother. Such are the indelicateness and rawness of transitions and elections in Nigeria. The reason is not far to seek. In an often quoted speech broadcast on the radio from Cape Town in 1947, Elizabeth II, at the time heir apparent, said solemnly, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service…” This suggests that even before ascending, Elizabeth already had a vision, not of the use or abuse of naked power but of qualitative service as befitting a cultured and aristocratic elite trained in the promotion of change for the best of reasons.

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