The remnants of that apparently linger, but in some rather odd ways.
Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday delivered the “Queen’s Speech,” in which she lays out the agenda for Parliament. And this year’s speech featured a notable inclusion: a push to require voter ID in British elections.
A number of prominent allies of former president Donald Trump quickly hailed the move. They did so not just because Britain is moving toward something Democrats have derided as being voter suppression, but because it was the queen, of all people, behind it. Their argument: How could it be racist when it’s the queen?
There’s certainly a problem with the logic therein, given the history of the monarchy and its colonialism and yes, racism. But the argument also reveals a remarkable misreading of British politics.
Leading the charge over the last 24 hours has been Trump’s lawyer, Jenna Ellis. When the news broke, she implored prominent Democratic elections lawyer Marc Elias to weigh in on whether the queen was racist.
Elias toyed with her without initially pointing out the folly of her argument, leading her to repeatedly double down.
The problem? The queen’s speech isn’t a statement of the monarchy’s or even the queen’s personal political views. Indeed, the monarchy generally stays out of such things. It’s a speech prepared by the party in charge of Britain’s government, which right now is the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The queen reads the speech, but this is not her policy agenda.
But that didn’t stop others from making a similar argument.
Charlie Kirk, a prominent Trump supporter who heads Turning Point USA, suggested the Queen’s Speech would lead to the cancellation of the queen.
Former Fox News employee Kyle Becker wrote about how the queen was “triggering” liberals with her announcement. “God Save the Queen,” he added of a member of the royal family whose grip the United States fought a war to be rid of.
The conservative blog RedState wrote a post suggesting the queen had channeled both Trump and the Republican Party, despite her only channeling the words of Britain’s own conservative party that were written for her:
But apparently, the Queen of Great Britain is racist, too, because, according to the Guardian, she’s about to announce tomorrow that photo ID will be required to vote in general elections to tackle fraud.
And various other conservative social media figures made similar arguments, while wrongly labeling the queen, the “Queen of England.”
(Some of the above tweets were initially pointed out by the New Republic’s Matt Ford.)
It’s easy to oversell just how much this argument has caught on. But it’s now been promoted by both the former president’s lawyer (who has an interesting history) and an ally whom Trump sought to promote. If past is predicate, it seems quite possible this idea will catch on in conservative circles. That’s despite some of the above being warned off it by people pointing out exactly what the Queen’s Speech entails and declining to back down. It’s also despite the very real history that suggests the monarchy isn’t exactly “woke.”
But if there’s one thing we can do for that discourse, it’s to point out that not only is the queen not some kind of unimpeachable character witness for your chosen policy; she’s also not even advocating it.