It is fashionable among the liberal elite to depict Britain as a country of waning power and influence, sliding inexorably into the wings of the world stage.
This miserabilist movement, with Labour and the BBC inevitably at its vanguard, claims the UK is a spent force – a sickly international actor living off memories of its imperial past. The extraordinary global reaction to Queen Elizabeth II’s death has exposed that notion as pure bunkum.
If Britain truly is slipping into irrelevance, why is the late monarch being near-universally mourned? If we are merely some dwindling second-rate state, how come the world’s leaders have flocked to London to attend her state funeral today?
The greatest gathering of kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers ever seen will join the 2,000-strong congregation for the solemn service in Westminster Abbey.
If Britain truly is slipping into irrelevance, why is the late monarch being near-universally mourned?
Royalist or republican, democrat or despot, every head of state has been clamouring for invitations. Inclusion is a mark of international status.
The impact of Her Majesty’s passing is seismic. The global grieving has easily eclipsed that which accompanied the deaths of such towering international figures as Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.
The reality, invariably overlooked by those who delight in running the country down, is that the Queen is revered across the planet – from the tiny Pitcairn Islands to the sands of Arabia. Her long reign reads like a travelogue. She visited more than 100 countries and hosted upwards of 150 state visits – a successful, often history-making, exercise in diplomacy and ‘soft power’.
To many around the world, the Queen’s core values – duty, responsibility, self-discipline and self-sacrifice – are indivisible from those that Britain represents.
A predicted global TV audience of four billion will watch her funeral – around half the planet’s population. That is testament to the huge esteem held overseas for our monarchy, traditions and principles.
Whatever the naysayers claim, Britain punches well above its weight geopolitically, economically and culturally.
To Ukraine, who we have given military and financial support in their existential battle against Russia, or the flood-ravaged people of Pakistan, where we have sent vast amounts of aid to help them rebuild, this country is anything but an irrelevance.
In their eyes and those of countless other nations, we remain a shining beacon of hope, democracy, freedom and friendship.
But today the curtain falls on the Elizabethan Age. We will say a final, sorrowful farewell to the only monarch most of us have ever known.
Up to two million will line the streets of London for perhaps the most spellbinding spectacle in this island’s recent history.
The magnificent pomp and pageantry of the ceremonies will surely take the breath away of even the most cynical republican.
This will be a fitting farewell for a monarch who guided the nation through 70 turbulent years with deftness, courage and wisdom.
More than any of her predecessors, she won her subjects’ hearts through unflagging hard work and quiet, sober simplicity.
That has been reflected in the remarkable stream of humanity that has braved long queues and chilly weather to pay tribute at her lying-in-state. Also in the impeccably observed minute’s silence last night.
Amid all the splendour and majesty of the occasion, however, it is important not to forget that a family is bereaved.
King Charles said in a poignant message last night that he was ‘moved beyond measure’ by the outpouring of grief and affection for his ‘dear mother’. It had, he said, been a ‘support and comfort’.
His first days as sovereign have – fountain pen mishaps aside – been pitch-perfect. If he follows his mother’s example in the future, he’ll be a worthy successor indeed.