Politicians across the spectrum are calling for Her Majesty to be honoured for her role in the Commonwealth – but not everyone thinks she has done such a good job
Τhere is a move afoot to nominate the Queen for a Nobel peace prize in recognition of her “determined diplomacy” in “keeping the Commonwealth alive”. Politicians from across the parties are backing the plan, although it is fair to say that while their loyalties are varied, they are of a certain vintage. They include Lord Howell, a Thatcher-era minister, and Labour’s Frank Field, who has been an MP since 1979.
The Commonwealth will be 70 next year and the world’s top peace award would be a handsome recognition of the organisation and its guiding spirit, the Queen. It was set up partly through the influence of her father in the wake of Indian and Pakistani independence, and many historians and diplomats acknowledge that the glue that has held the disparate and occasionally warring members together is the seriousness with which she takes it.
But not all of them think she has made such a good job of creating a disinterested force for the global good. Philip Murphy, the director of the Institute for Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, has just published an account that, according to the blurb, “reveals an irrelevant institution wallowing in imperial amnesia.” He asks whether it can ever “escape from the shadow of the British Empire to become an organisation based on shared values, rather than a shared history.”
The historian Richard Drayton, meanwhile, says it is “an absurd idea, but I suppose given that the peace prize has been given to Kissinger after Cambodia and Obama before he did anything, the bar has been set low”.
Other students of its history are kinder. Ashley Jackson, another historian of empire and the Commonwealth, thinks that the Queen stopped the organisation turning into a white club that was all about promoting British interests and helped it become “a multi-racial society of independent nation states”.
He credits her with designing and creating an international role for herself that is independent of the British government. “No one will ever know a fraction of what she does behind closed doors, using her soft power to influence relations between Commonwealth members and between Britain and the Commonwealth.”
How true that is will not really be clear until she dies. And then, of course, she won’t be eligible for a Nobel prize.
Source : The Guardian