‘The Crown and Parliament’

27 May 1953, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Luncheon, St Stephen’s Hall, Westminster1

In this hall of fame and antiquity, a long story has been unfolded of the conflict of Crown versus Parliament, and I suppose we are most of us within a hundred yards of the statue of Oliver Cromwell. But those days are done. The vehement, passionate moral and intellectual forces that clashed in tragic violence three hundred years ago are now united. It is no longer a case of Crown versus Parliament, but of Crown and Parliament.

In our island, by trial and error, and by perseverance across the centuries, we have found out a very good plan. Here it is. ‘The Queen can do no wrong.’ Bad advisers can be changed as often as the people like to use their rights for that purpose. A great battle is lost. Parliament turns out the Government. A great battle is won. Crowds cheer the Queen. We have found this a very commanding and durable doctrine. What goes wrong passes away with the politicians responsible. What goes right is laid on the altar of our united Commonwealth and Empire.

Here today we salute fifty or sixty Parliaments and one Crown. It is natural for Parliaments to talk and for the Crown to shine. The oldest here will confirm me that we are never likely to run short of Members and of Ministers who can talk. And the youngest are sure they will never see the Crown sparkle more gloriously than in these joyous days.

Of course some envious people say we want to have it all ways at once. That may well be true. We seek the best of all worlds and certainly we have got the pick of this one. It is always dangerous to make comparisons about forms of government. We accept the principle that everyone should have what they like, but there can be no harm in my saying we like very much what we have got. Still, we recognise that others may prefer different solutions.

We must be very careful nowadays – I perhaps all the more because of my American forebears – in what we say about the American Constitution. I will therefore content myself with the observation that no Constitution was ever written in better English. But we have much more than that in common with the great republic. The key thought alike of the British constitutional monarchy and the republic of the United States is the hatred of dictatorship. Both here and across the ocean, over the generations and the centuries the idea of the division of power has lain at the root of our development. We do not want to live under a system dominated either by one man or one theme. Like nature we follow in freedom the paths of variety and change and our faith is that the mercy of God will make things get better if we all try our best.

I suppose it is because I have served Her Majesty’s great grandfather, grandfather, father, and now herself, that I have been accorded the honour of expressing our thanks this afternoon to her for her Royal presence here. Well do we realise the burdens imposed by sacred duty upon the Sovereign and her family. All round we see the proofs of the unifying sentiment which makes the Crown the central link in all our modern changing life, and the one which above all others claims our allegiance to the death. We feel that Her Gracious Majesty here with us today has consecrated her life to all her peoples in all her realms. We are resolved to prove on the pages of history that this sacrifice shall not be made in vain.

Речь на русском языке Корона и парламент


  1. This address was delivered in the presence of the new Queen, shortly before her Coronation on 2 June.