The Fall or Flexibility of Empire
I’ve been listening to all the news and Pomp and Circumstance swirling around the last few days or so covering Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, really curious as to whether the strength of the cheers was to applaud the strength and stability of her reign or to drown out the fear of what comes with her descent. And the idea that Prince Charles “is more popular than any serving member of British Government” is honestly pretty laughable considering Boris Johnson’s barely survived Vote of No Confidence by his own party after quite a few old school frat-boy style “Party Gate” parties during Covid.
Coincidently, Tropical Storm Alex swirled up its own strength off Mexico and has since struck and flooded Cuba and South Florida, before ping-ponging over to me in Bermuda.
As I write, I’m watching the 60 knot gusts rip at the unseasonably brown palm trees out my window, thinking about Empire, both in terms of the British Commonwealth that spans every corner of the globe as well as the overarching concept of Empire as an organizing principle for global domination, which has been the leading philosophy of Governments from the Bronze Age onwards.
As I’m writing, I’m also meeting young Bermudian after young Bermudian planning to leverage their UK citizenship to seek out “a better life” and home for themselves and their children in England as Bermuda becomes more expensive, unstable and dangerous, with the increasing wealth and racial divide.
Coming out of this, I have to ask myself, is a “Platinum Age” and Empirical Legacy more durable than the Ages and Empires that have gone before? Especially in a post Brexit world reliant on its Monarchy and Heritage of Crown and Country to retain its economic and political survival, let alone dominance in the world? And is Charles or any succeeding English monarch for that matter going to be as elusively flexible and resilient as its longest reigning and most popular Monarch? Will a more Conservative England, separate from Europe, be able to accommodate all those members of the Commonwealth who are seeking a “better life” because of her popularity and the growing social safety nets empowered during her reign like the NHS and Free Education Act, which she inherited from her father under Labour Party Leadership?
Having lived through the rise of #BLM and the global strains on healthcare due to Covid and Climate Change, shutting borders on the Commonwealth that fueled the British Empire’s growth seems like a big mistake, since so much comes from Europe and the former colonies. But I’m equally hesitant to believe the UK or its Monarchy will survive those members of the Commonwealth “coming home” to build a new life and in so doing, staining the strength of a more narrowly focused economy and geographic footprint with decreasing flexibility.
What makes Queen Elizabeth II Strong is her capacity to be Flexible. To morph towards others, an almost invisible leader; respectfully and quietly skirting Prime Minister after Prime Minister and President after President, after dancing with and entertaining key members of the Commonwealth soon after her Ascent. She’s also been able to negotiate domestic crisis after crisis, even In Her Own Home seemingly effortlessly because of her Flexibility.
As I look at the Monarchs to follow in her footsteps, I have to wonder whether they are Strong enough in their Flexibility to ensure a narrow, Legacy Economy of Crown and Country are enough to ensure the Empire continues onwards or falls like those that preceded them.
Holly Lynch is a 20+ year ESG and DEI communications veteran, board member, strategist and investor who has helped individuals and companies tackle the toughest challenges, transitions and transformations in their worlds. Having survived countless life setbacks and two rounds with terminal cancer, while seeing the country-wide collapse of the systems and safety nets for the most vulnerable in and outside our communities, she is now shifting her life and career trajectories to focus on coaching and consulting with those facing down fundamental shifts and transitions as they try to adapt to change while rebuilding their lives and businesses during these unprecedented times.