While the entire world has been reeling from the vote last Thursday for Britain to leave Europe, Queen Elizabeth II has continued her two-day 90th birthday tour of Northern Ireland, including a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Giant’s Causeway, with Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh.
Elizabeth has not yet released an official statement about Brexit, but on Monday she made her first official appearance after the vote when she met with Northern Ireland’s deputy minister, Martin McGuinness, and Arlene Foster, first minister of Northern Ireland.
When Deputy Minister McGuinness asked how she was doing, she responded, “I’m still alive, anyway.” She continued to say, “I’ve had two birthdays, so we’ve been quite busy.” The queen’s second birthday, following tradition, was celebrated with the Trooping the Colour ceremony. The publicized meeting was civil and short.
The monarchy did not vote on Brexit per tradition, and was quiet during the politically tense period before Brexit as well, even going after the tabloid newspaper The Sun, which published a front page article that said the queen supported Brexit. The Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled that the paper had breached media regulations by publishing an inaccurate headline after Buckingham Palace complained.
The monarchy’s website states that the queen acts as a “focus for national identity, unity, and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognises success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.” However, as The Economist notes, the queen is still Britain’s head of state, with powers to sign treaties, wage war, and dissolve Parliament.
Britain has seen immense prestige come from their monarchs’ image, as well. Not least George VI’s role in giving “a sense of stability” during World War II, as depicted in the wildly popular four-oscar-winning movie “The King’s Speech.”
Although the monarchy costs Britons £45.6 million per year, or $61.25 million, according to The Telegraph, the royals are also a major tourist draw for the nation. A Buckingham Palace tour, costs £21.50 per ticket (about $29).
Last year, the Crown Estate paid a record £285 million, $382.84 million, in revenue, to Britain, which shows that keeping the collected, graceful, and non-political face helps the nation. The queen is considered a major UK cultural icon, not a political player.
According to a YouGov survey from 2015, the monarchy continues to be popular among British people of all ages and political parties. The survey stated 68 percent of the British public believes the institution is good for the country.
A survey by Ipsos-MORI, a British marketing research company, that has been running for the past 23 years has also shown that the monarchy remains consistently popular, with only 17 percent of respondents saying they would prefer a republic in February and 18 percent favoring a republic in 1993.
So as David Cameron resigns as Prime Minister, and the rest of Europe and the world considers how to respond to the referendum vote, the queen and her husband are scheduled to continue their trip to Scotland – a country that, like Northern Ireland, voted to stay in the EU.
Following proper etiquette, political opinions are unlikely to be shared during royal small talk.