On 2nd June 1953, the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher crowned Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, Pakistan and sundry other realms and distant territories. She was anointed on King Edward’s Chair in Westminster Abbey, where a thousand years of monarchs have sworn their oaths to God and made promises to their peoples. The Prime Minister was Winston Churchill. Continue reading →
I have for many years opposed amending the Act of Settlement 1701, in particular those historic clauses which refer to the Protestant Settlement between the people, the Monarchy and the Established Church. I understand, to some, that this puts me in the ‘extremist bigot’ category, somewhere above Enoch Powell but still a little way beneath the Rev’d Dr Ian Paisley. That was the view taken by the Catholic Herald back in 2005, when they demanded that Michael Howard dismiss me as a Conservative parliamentary candidate over articles I had written on the matter for The Spectator two years earlier (which had been evaluated by the Chief Whip, no less). But there was no reasoning with the ‘something-of-the-night’ autocrat. Thankfully, more mature minds (like Charles Moore, William Rees-Mogg, Ann Widdecombe and Boris Johnson) fully understood my concerns, which were based on theological knowledge and constitutional history rather than any irrational prejudice or ‘bigotry’. Continue reading →
Whenever the BBC broadcast a major national celebration or royal event, they wheel out a Dimbleby to maintain the hereditary principle. If they want a probing political interview, they sacrifice the victim to the snarls of Paxman or the claws of Humphries. If they want election night gravitas, up pops the psephologically effervescent Peter Snow. They are all Auntie’s heavy hitters; sans pareil when it comes to pomp, circumstance, inquisition and exposition.
The Corporation has never really nurtured a broadcasting aristocracy for the arts and culture. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that they poached Baron Bragg of Wigton (aka Melvyn) from ITV to present their flagship documentary to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Maybe “poached” is unfair: ITV ditched his South Bank Show a couple of years ago, since which time he’s been available for hire. To many, he is the doyen of high-arts-fused-with-popular-culture broadcasting, so you might expect a state-broadcast flagship documentary about the inspired Authorised Version by the enthused Melvyn Bragg to be, well … inspired and enthused. Continue reading →