Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

International Affairs

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Kent

Abstract

In this paper I endeavor to answer the question: what accounts for the British monarchy’s continued salience in British affairs? My hypothesis is that the monarchy is a symbol of continuity, stability, and British values during times of crisis or upheaval, and that the monarch’s performance of this essential function has resulted in an enduring relevance for the institution. Through a historical analysis of the reigns of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, I aim to establish a foundation for my hypothesis and help fill a considerable gap in the literature. Few scholars have written on the function of the monarch during crisis, and the specific role of Queen Elizabeth during decolonization is unexplored territory. This comparative-case study yields the finding that there is indeed support for the hypothesis, leading to the conclusion that the symbolism of the monarchy in extraordinary circumstances helps explain its sustained relevance in Britain.

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