LONDON — From pubs in Peterborough to beaches in Brighton, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the United Kingdom holding back their views on Brexit.
Well, actually, there is one person: Queen Elizabeth II.
She is Britain's longest-serving monarch and is the head of state of the U.K., a political union made up of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
However, the queen’s united kingdom is looking anything but. Its very existence has come under threat after the U.K.’s stunning decision to leave the European Union — popularly known as Brexit. Although no one knows where all the pieces of the puzzle will land, some have questioned whether the map of the U.K. might be redrawn to include just England and Wales.
On Monday, the 90-year-old monarch was expected to attend a number of public engagements in Northern Ireland. As of Monday afternoon, she had not said a word — at least publicly — about Brexit.
The queen’s deafening silence is in stark contrast to what happened after the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, when she issued a statement within hours of the results.
Of course, these are unusual times.
When the queen visited Northern Ireland in 2014, she stopped by the set of "Game of Thrones." If she doesn't have time on this trip, she could always turn on the telly to see a PG-rated version playing out in Westminster’s corridors of power. British Prime Minister David Cameron, the queen’s 12th prime minister, resigned Friday morning, and both of Britain's main political parties are in turmoil.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland and one of Britain’s canniest politicians (future Queen of the North?), has been busy pushing her dream for Scottish independence. She says it is “highly likely” that there will be a second referendum on Scottish independence, given that the majority of Scots voted to remain in the E.U.
The Scottish National Party has said that if Scotland were to gain independence, the queen would remain head of state with the title “Queen of Scots.”
In Northern Ireland, where voters strongly backed staying in the bloc, questions have been raised about border checks between a post-Brexit Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is in the E.U., and what that could mean for the fragile peace process.
The political party Sinn Fein has called for the border to be removed completely.
Britain is a constitutional monarchy with a queen who reigns but does not rule. She can’t vote and is expected to remain politically neutral.
“As Head of State The Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters,” the palace says on its website.
Indeed, when the Sun tabloid ran a front-page headline “Queen backs Brexit,” Buckingham Palace complained to the media watchdog, which ruled that the headline was inaccurate.
“The queen remains politically neutral as she has for 63 years,” the palace said in response to the headline.
But nothing prevents her from issuing the kind of statement she did after the Scottish referendum, in which she said she had no doubt that the U.K. would unite “in a spirit of mutual respect and support.”
The queen “is a tremendous unifying” figure, said Robert Lacey, a royal biographer, who noted that she has played an important role in Anglo-Irish relations.
For instance, when she visited the Republic of Ireland in 2011, the first British monarch to do so in 100 years, she was widely praised for her efforts toward reconciliation. During a state banquet in Dublin, she began her speech by speaking in Irish, causing then-Irish President Mary McAleese to turn to others and mouth “wow.”
But on issues related to Brexit, it appears that the queen is holding her tongue — for now, at least.