In more than a thousand years of English history only one monarch has reigned for longer than Queen Elizabeth II. The Diamond Jubilee will be a chance for the nation to celebrate her remarkable reign of 60 years, but also a chance for the nation to reflect on the moral purpose of the institution of the monarchy itself. In 1952 the UK was a very different country. It's not just a question of deference; today our social, religious, cultural and moral climate have changed almost beyond recognition. Yet in the midst of all of this upheaval Queen Elizabeth has remained a constant; to her supporters a beacon of dedication to the virtues of duty, honour and selfless service - virtues which are sadly lacking in our "what's in it for me society". If these are virtues are they confused, or even corrupted by coupling them to the monarchy, an institution that for many people is rooted in the social mores of the past? And is it any longer tenable to say that our nationhood - or rather our nations - can still somehow be quasi-mystically embodied in the institution of the monarchy?
Witnesses: Dickie Arbiter - Royal commentator, Former press spokesman for the Queen, Joan Smith - Author, columnist for The Independent, Stephen Haseler - Director of the Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University, Vernon Bogdanor - Research Professor, Institute of Contemporary History, King's College London.
Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Kenan Malik and Matthew Taylor.