Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) holds her daughter, Princess Anne, at Anne's christening in 1950. The British monarchy sometimes seems to be everything the United Kingdom's democratic institutions currently are not -- calm, reassuring and reasonable.
Strategists prefer to say that modern monarchy is a form of soft power, offering an attractive national image to the world and enticing foreigners to want to like the royals' country. However, seeing Princess Anne in action last week at an event marking the centenary of City Lit, the world's largest institution of adult education, suggested that right now there is more to a British royal's job than just selling soft power. Anne was quiet, calm, reassuring and reasonable -- everything that Britain's democratic institutions currently seem not to be. The price royalty pays for staying above the fray is, admittedly, that they can say very little at all about state affairs. In these uncertain times, though, monarchy's very distance from the mudslinging is becoming its greatest strength....
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