I live in Bangladesh, and have done so for almost half a century, though my parents were born within the sound of Bow Bells, and I am Anglo-Saxon, with blue eyes and fair hair. Of my ten grandchildren, five live in England, five in Bangladesh.
The fact that Britain has a good Queen, (and an intelligent, strong one) has provided me with a sense of identity to which I have clung throughout my life here. No president, elected or not, could possibly do the same for me or bring out the sense of pride I feel about myself. The monarchy provides glamour but also gains my respect and loyalty. The monarchy so fits in with my mental make-up, I cannot imagine how it would be without one.
I was born and brought up in Britain and my mother taught me from a very young age to pay allegiance to the Crown. She had a great regard for the monarch of the time, King George V and later for his son, King George VI. Her brother, my uncle, was decorated by King George V for bravery. When I was eight, I saw Queen Mary driving through Salisbury forest in Wiltshire. We had a street party to celebrate the coronation of King George VI in 1937. I even remember the dresses we sisters wore - red, white and blue taffeta with blue "doggie" buttons. Strange the things that stay in the mind!
Perhaps, to some, this qualifies me as being “brainwashed”. But I do know that without a monarch I may have lost my sense of identity long ago as fate took me away from my homeland. I was isolated from the British community for many years as my husband and I were not in Dhaka till 1965 (the time of the Indo-Pakistan war) and only came into contact with a few of my countrymen at the end of that decade. Unfortunately these friendships did not last long, as the War of Liberation that began in March 1971 drove them away.
Being British is vitally important to me – and the monarch is at the centre of that. It is not just ‘pomp and ceremony’. The monarchy also gives me a sense of history - and permanency - in a world gone awry. It is an indispensable part of my heritage and makes me feel that, though 6000 miles away from home, I truly belong!
No nation is a wholly natural community. Without a unifying force it would soon fall apart into warring or feudal groups. In Britain, the seeds of dissent can be seen because immigrants do not feel they completely ‘belong’. Yet if they too had been subjected to the same kind of “brainwashing” I had, they would not feel like so many pieces of flotsam floating on a torrential sea.
The sense of “we” is so important to a people. It cannot continue if people are living in ghettoes and studying in religious schools. Without a monarchy to hold us together, we shall no longer be a nation but instead, many splinter groups all looking for something with which to identity. People would no longer feel they were British, or do all those simple things a nation does – from celebrating royal occasions or supporting England during international cricket matches. The sense of being “we” would no longer exist and Britain would be less than a nation.