Here is a thought experiment for anyone who has “made it” — who has scrambled to the top of their heap. Look in the mirror and remind yourself that you haven’t, by and large, achieved success through personal merit. You have been lucky. Brains, determination and looks are randomly distributed.The world is unfair. People who have risen to the top of any small pyramid have mostly got there because of good fortune. Whether they are well-remunerated grandees from the financial services industry counting their bonuses, or preening media types, or actors, or even entrepreneurs worshipping their creator, they haven’t achieved what they have simply by guts and hard work.
Guts and hard work matter but they bring disproportionate rewards to those born, randomly, with the brainpower, good health and family security to make use of them; and then they are super-effective if good luck in your education and connections helps you up the tree.
It’s an obvious, almost mundane thought, but it’s rare that people who have “made it” like to acknowledge the obvious. We live in a raw and abrasive meritocracy that likes to pretend those on top have got there because they thoroughly deserve it. So what does that say about everyone else? To acknowledge the randomness of good fortune is more than politeness; it’s humanity.
And so to the Queen. It’s often said that it’s because we don’t really know her that she has managed to stay so popular for so long. By now, this year, her vast popularity seems a given, blandly accepted.
It didn’t seem that way in 1992 — her “annus horribilis” — when The Sunday Times serialised Andrew Morton’s searing biography of Diana, Princess of Wales.
It didn’t seem that way in 1997, after Diana’s death, when for several eerie days the monarchical country of the United Kingdom seemed mutinous. In fact, when you think back over the Queen’s reign, the Windsor story has been much more wrinkled and difficult than it can seem today.
By Andrew Marr
With many thanks to The Australian