The Butterfly Effect
At the moment i am reading Andrew Marr’s “The Diamond Queen.” I’ve wanted to read it since the jubilee in the summer, but the sometimes tightwad that I am I never shelled out the cash for it. However, as we get closer to Christmas and people start to forget about how much they love the Queen once more, I happened to find Marr’s work en masse in “The Works,” apparently having found itself unloved and failing to sell. At a discount price of £3.99 though, I couldn’t help myself.
I’m only about a third of the way through and it is jolly interesting from all sorts of angles – historically, socially, patriotically and just as an interesting book for a enthusiastic young monarchist like myself. Today though I’m thinking about it in philosophical terms. Marr points out on several occasions how different our royal history might have run if such and such a thing had not happened, or had happened. The butterfly effect from within the royal family is really quite immense – the nation we now live in might have been a very different place and it was only the smallest of instances which made it what it is today. The biggest one is that the Queen was never really meant to be Queen – a fact itself predominantly due to the fact that her father, King George VI, was never meant to be king. Even when her father did become king after his brother Edward VIII abdicated (another butterfly moment) it would have seemed an extreme unlikeliness to young Liz that she would ever be queen. She would have expected to probably have a younger brother at some point who would overtake her as the heir – she certainly wouldn’t have expected her dad to die such a relatively young age as he did. Marr points out that King George could have well reigned into the 1970s had he kept his health. If that had happened then the queen wouldn’t have even yet celebrated her golden jubilee, let alone her diamond.
It just goes to show what a funny and unpredictable old man history can be. Things that we today take as such ordinary facts of life – i.e. the Queen is the Queen – have only come to pass because of relatively small decisions or occurrences. Things could have been so different, so easily.
It makes me almost fizz with excitement at the though of all those what ifs floating about in history. I read the other night that when the royal family were in the process of changing their name in WW1 they considered reusing the name “Tudor.” Imagine if that had happened!!! We’d be living in the second Tudor age! That would have been amazing!
You can’t help but then wonder, given all these historical butterflies flapping their wings, of whether similar changes are happening to our own futures. Our lives will likely never be chronicled to the extent that the Queen’s has been, we will likely never have a historian picking apart our pasts and saying whether if this had happened then actually we’d have more likely ended up living here or doing this. But it does make you think – where are even the smallest of my choices leading me? What impact will that event have on my life? We all have the potential to live a million different lives, but we only actually live one. What decisions make us live it, and why? Food for thought!