The controversial Netflix series The Crown covers the tumultuous period from the Queen’s accession in 1952 to the present day, and so does this book, which explores the rise, decline and—to some—unexpected rebound of the historic UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand alliance. While a post-Brexit and post-Elizabethan Britain seeks a new role in today’s volatile world, its traditional partner countries also recognise the logic of reinvigorating their relationship, based on a multitude of still-strong cultural, economic, political, and military ties, including the monarchy as a uniquely shared global, and not merely British, institution.
But this wasn’t always the case. Although in the 1950s commentators spoke of a new "Elizabethan Age" with much postwar hope across the Commonwealth, that optimism quickly faded. By the 1970s, many thought Britain washed up and that Crown and Commonwealth ties and allegiance were becoming obsolete. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the four countries increasingly went their separate ways. So, a groggy time-traveller from that period appearing in London, Toronto, Sydney, or Auckland today would be taken by surprise by the durability of the Crown, even as it has passed to King Charles, and the growing reconvergence of the four "CANZUK" realms in terms of trade, defence, foreign policy coordination, freedom of movement, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and other new or revived links.
This book evocatively tells the whole story of where we are, what’s possible for the future, and not least how we got here. In today’s age of global instability and raw power politics, this renewed Anglosphere Crown Commonwealth alliance is more important and relevant than ever.
Michael J. Smith is a senior civil servant and a former Royal Canadian Navy officer. He is Vice-Chair of the Queen Elizabeth II Statue Project working to install a dignified statue of Canada's beloved former head of state on the grounds of the Ontario Provincial Parliament in commemoration of the Platinum Jubilee. Smith, who personally spearheaded the successful effort to restore the historic titles Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force to the country's naval and air forces, is on the board of the Royal Military Colleges Museum Corporation and is based in the Toronto area.
Stephen Klimczuk-Massion is a corporate and geopolitical strategist, scenario planner, former Oxford fellow, and current advisory board member of CANZUK International. He served as a principal of one of the world's largest management consultancies, and head of its CEO think tank. A Harvard MBA, he has also been head of strategy for late billionaire investor Sir John Templeton's main private foundation. Klimczuk-Massion has been the recipient of several Queen's appointments and honours and is based in the Vancouver area.
Introduction: The Enduring Crown & Commonwealth Realms
PART I. THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CROWN COMMONWEALTH
Prelude: Royal Salute at the Queen’s Enemies
PART II. THE ROYAL SUN RISES AGAIN: RESTORATION, REVIVAL AND RECONVERGENCE
PART III. LONG TO REIGN OVER US?
Conclusion: The Stone of Destiny: Will the Hereditary Principle Durably Last for Non-Residential Monarchies?
About the Authors
An excellent book. Without denigrating the wider Commonwealth, the authors have focussed on the special bonds between Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There are some splendid observations which reflect well upon the operations of the Constitutional Monarchy.
CANZUK is not about nostalgia or history - though, given what we have fought for together, Heaven knows that some nostalgia is justified. No, the real case for a partnership among the Crown Commonwealth states is futuristic. In a world where distance matters less and less, and where cultural proximity trumps geographical proximity, our economic and political interoperability has more relevance than it has ever had before - a point beautifully made by Michael J. Smith & Stephen Klimczuk-Massion.
It was the late and much-loved Queen Elizabeth who said that the Commonwealth was ‘an entirely new conception built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man.’ In doing so she showed insight and foresight far beyond many politicians and foreign affairs experts. The common purpose and commitment of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK is part of the binding force which, far from standing apart from the rest, weaves the modern and evolving Commonwealth together. This farsighted book is invaluable in showing us how it is doing so.
This is a timely and insightful study. With Britain having declined the submergence of its institutions and relations with its closest allies in Euro-integration, and the United States in a somewhat unpredictable phase, it is a better time than ever since World War II to reexamine the potential for the senior Commonwealth countries to coordinate their affairs more closely. Geographic dispersal is no longer a serious problem, we have more in common with each other than with anyone else, and together, constitute a significant bloc in the world, and a strengthened ally of America and Europe.
The UK voting to leave the EU was bewildering to me, but as this book well articulates, now that Brexit is done there is some fertile ground for the UK to re-engage with the old Commonwealth. In this world all countries need all the friends they can get. Nurture these relationships and the rewards will follow—we all still have a lot in common, especially our values and aspirations.
This is an important book and, as Andrew Roberts observes in his Foreword, “revelatory about how four countries can come together in an ever-closer union for the benefit not merely of themselves, but also ultimately for that of the rest of the world too”. Nothing quite like it has been attempted before: there have been detailed studies of the constitutions of the constituent nations and many geopolitical commentaries (which this work also is), but the distinctive feature of this study is its unwavering focus on the Crown as the cultural and constitutional lynchpin of this exceptional alliance. The authors, both Canadians and therefore personally engaged with the issues they discuss, have done prodigious research; when they make firm assertions, as they frequently do, they support them with solid evidence, some of it previously little known. They have successfully avoided the chief pitfall of collaboration: the text reads seamlessly, as if it had been written by a single author. The authors are skilled at finding apposite anecdotes to lend colour to their text. In fact, they are skilled at a considerable number of things: maintaining equilibrium among the four nations they are discussing; bringing their distinctive constitutional histories and past political leaders vividly to life; ensuring that their advocacy of the continuing value of the monarchy remains a consistent thread throughout their narrative, without becoming monotonous; and viewing their subjects within both the wider Commonwealth and the global geopolitical situation.
This is an absorbing and illuminating book.
9/10/22, Daily Mail: Bestselling historian Andrew Roberts mentioned this book in a column about the threats to the Crown Commonwealth.
OK! Magazine: Author Stephen Klimczuk-Massion is quoted and the book is mentioned in this article about the late Queen.