Why is the Queen silent on Hillsborough?

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Australia, and other Commonwealth realms) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Queen has not made a public statement about the Hillsborough finding of fact. Despite, 96 citizens being unlawfully killed, she is silent. In 2007 when 56 UK citizens died in a terrorist attack, she and other members of the Royal Family spoke publicly.[1]

These statements were fit and proper. She is both the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of all military services.[2] It is her job, through her government, to keep the public safe. If neither her nor her government cannot keep the public safe, then their legitimacy becomes problematic.[3] Why should the people obey a government or a Monarch if it cannot protect them?[4]

What about Hillsborough?

At the Hillsborough Inquiry, we learned 96 UK citizens were unlawfully killed by the South Yorkshire Police (SYP). So how does this connect to the Queen? Why is this something she has to address? The SYP officers all take a loyalty oath to the Queen. They do not swear an oath to the public or Parliament. In effect, they are the Queen’s police. In the same way that it is Her Majesty’s Government (HMG), so it is Her Majesty’s Police Force because the police draw their authority from the Crown not from Parliament nor the People.

Will the Queen speak so the voice of justice is heard?

The police officer cannot become a police officer, gain their powers, without taking, giving, or attesting the following oath of office.[5]  Most importantly, the police do not derive their authority from the law. The Police derive their authority from the Queen. Statutes provide them legal powers, but their authority is derived from the sovereign.[6] It is not derived from Parliament. It is not derived from the law. It is not derived from the people. The Queen, as the source of all laws and justice, provides them with their constitutional existence and authority.[7] .

Is the executive silent for to speak would invalidate its legitimacy?

The Coroner’s Inquest found as a fact that the South Yorkshire Police unlawfully killed 96 UK citizens. Innocent people died from police acts, yet, the Queen has not made a statement. She has not expressed the same public sympathy for the victims as she did for the 56 after 7/7. In the UK, all the coercive powers rest with the executive; that is, with the Monarchy as expressed through HMG. Parliament does not have a police force. Parliament does not have a military force. At most, Parliament has a ceremonial force in the person of the Serjeant of Arms who can take someone into custody for refusing to attend Parliament.[8] With this coercive power comes great responsibility. The Crown holds the power of life and death over all citizens. If the Crown declares you a threat it can kill you in self-defence. There is no appeal and more importantly, the Crown does not have to justify its use of self-defence.[9]

When a stranger does it, we speak, when we do it, we are silent. Why?

What is it that makes it necessary to speak about a terrorist attack yet remain silent about an injustice by agents of the Crown that killed 96 citizens? Does the Crown’s silence signify that it cannot answer that question? Is it silent because it knows that to condemn the police would be to condemn itself? If the Crown cannot speak to the victims of the Crown’s misdeeds how can it be held to account? Are the people safe when power acts with impunity? Is that just? Why should people obey authority that acts with impunity and refuses to admit when it has acted contrary to justice?

What is the Crown’s highest duty in peacetime?

In peacetime, the ruler’s highest responsibility is to ensure justice. Justice is the common interest that serves everyone. When citizens are killed by terrorists, they suffer an injustice. The Crown reacts to that injustice. In response to the injustice of the 7/7 attacks, the Queen spoke on the issue. For consistency, one would expect the Queen to speak about the injustice her citizens suffered 27 years ago which left 96 people dead. More importantly, one would expect her to comment on the 27 years of lies, denials, and cover-ups by police. Will she speak out about this injustice?

Is it politics or common decency?

Some might object to such a question to say that the Queen does not get involved in politics. In this they would be correct. The Queen has been careful to avoid engaging in politics to avoid a constitutional crisis with Parliament. Yet, where are the People in this equation? Do they not have an advocate in the Queen?  Is it politics that keeps her from comforting the victims, consoling the survivors and reassuring the public? She did call Margaret Thatcher when she hurt her feelings after it appeared she criticized her as uncaring.[10] Is it politics to reach out those who have suffered and endured for 27 years overcoming every obstacle the Crown has created. Moreover, those who have campaign for justice have done so with a dignity and restraint. In this they have embodied the best of the British spirit defiant in face of adversity, resolute in the pursuit of justice, and faithful to the idea of common decency. The Queen did award honours to two of the family representatives for service to the victims.[11] What is the point of the Monarchy if it cannot recognize the damage to the body politics, to her loyal, long suffering, subjects and comfort them at the point where they have been vindicated? What is the difference of suffering when 96 people are unlawfully killed to 56 killed by terrorists?

The Queen’s silence

If the Crown cannot speak publicly on this issue, what issue can it speak on?  The 96 victims have the silence of the grave, perhaps it is time the victims families and the survivors heard the Queen’s voice?

[1] “     Queen Elizabeth II issued an official statement, saying “I know I speak for the whole nation in expressing my sympathy to all those affected and the relatives of the killed and injured. I have nothing but admiration for the emergency services as they go about their work.” On July 8, the Queen visited the Royal London Hospital, near Liverpool Street, where she visited some of the victims of the attacks, and emergency staff who responded to the attacks. She later made a speech described by the BBC as “unusually forthright”, in which she called the bombings an outrage, and said that “those who perpetrate these brutal acts against innocent people should know that they will not change our way of life.” On July 10, the Queen again commented on the attacks, during the UK’s commemoration services for the 60th anniversary of World War II. The Queen also ordered that the Union Flag on Buckingham Palace fly at half-mast.” [Emphasis added]


[2] J1.001.

The government and command of each of the fighting Services is vested in Her Majesty the Queen, who has charged the Secretary of State with general responsibility for the defence of the Realm and established a Defence Council having command and administration over Her armed forces.



[3] We note that parliamentary governments have fallen for their failure to respond effectively to public safety issues. In history we know of regimes that have been overthrown because of their inability to protect the public.

[4] This social contract is as old as the idea of government.

[5] “’I………………..of………………..do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law.’”


[6] To believe otherwise forgets the imperial nature of UK policing. Even if we look a the statute that “created” the police, we misunderstand the nature of law enforcement in that the police do not serve Parliament or the People for they do not owe them an oath of loyalty. As an imperial instrument, the police reflect power not the law. Even thought they are “legitimated” in common law or Parliamentary tradition, it embodies a colonial or imperial tradition.

“An appreciation of the imperial context permits a fresh appraisal. More sense can be made of the police public order role in present society by inserting the material omitted from most police histories—the centrality of colonial conquest and of imperial legitimation to institutional development in Victorian England. “The history of England is also the history of our colonies . . .” (Sumner, 1982, p-8).” p.5

Mike Brogden, THE EMERGENCE OF THE POLICE—THE COLONIAL DIMENSION The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 27, No. 1, WHY POLICE?: SPECIAL ISSUE ON POLICING IN BRITAIN (Winter 1987), pp. 4-14

In many ways, this is the source of much of the UK police residual legitimacy problems. How does it transition from an imperial relationship toa  democratic relationship where it derives its power from the people and their true consent and not the myth of consent.?

[7] See for example http://web.archive.org/web/20090201000000*/https://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/Queenandthelaw/HowUKandEUlawaffectTheQueen.aspx

[8]  Select Committees and Coercive Powers—Clarity of Confusion? Richard Gordon QC and Amy Street   http://www.consoc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Select-Committees-and-Coercive-Powers-Clarity-or-Confusion.pdf p.36

[9] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/syria-refugees-and-counter-terrorism-prime-ministers-statement see also  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/drone-british-citizens-syria-uk-david-cameron  for the self-defence claim see the letter to the UN  http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/688

Ibid “Barack Obama has since faced repeated questions about the constitutionality of such killings, with accusations that the US is engaged in extrajudicial assassinations.

The UK has no such constitution protecting individual citizens.”

[10] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3258361/The-day-Queen-called-Maggie-say-sorry-Thatcher-left-desperately-hurt-branded-uncaring-row-apartheid-era-South-Africa.html

[11] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/hillsborough-victims-parents-margaret-aspinall-5366342 Seh also backed a public display to remember the Hillsborough tragedy. http://royalcentral.co.uk/uk/thequeen/the-queen-backs-hillsborough-disaster-tribute-at-2015-grand-national-47173

About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
This entry was posted in censorship, justice, philosophy, statesmanship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.