Mark Steyn Club members can enjoy our content in any form they wish - audio, video, or text. For the original broadcast of Mark's appearance on The Megyn Kelly Show, visit this page. The transcript follows below.
Megyn Kelly: Hey everyone. I'm Megyn Kelly. Welcome to the Megyn Kelly Show. What a day what a 24 hours. As the world mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth, a new chapter begins. A remarkable moment in London just a short time ago, as King Charles III arrived at Buckingham Palace along with his wife, Camilla, now, Queen Consort, the couple greeted by cheering crowds and well wishers. Many saying to him, God save the King, one woman seen kissing his hand. Many in the crowd had tears in their eyes. It's been an emotional day, not just for our friends over in Great Britain, but for a lot of Americans too. I've been feeling it. All walks of life young and old were there to welcome their new King. Somebody many of them watched grow up and pay respects to his beloved mother. It's starting to look like after Princess Diana died outside of Buckingham Palace.
My first guest grew up in England and has met members of the royal family. He even told us the last time he was on about how he dined at the palace with the royal family, after Prince Philip saw a piece that he had written and wanted to have him over to discuss. He's an old friend from The Kelly File as well. Mark Steyn is the host of the Mark Steyn Show on GB News in Britain. So great to have you back, Mark.
Mark Steyn: It's lovely to be back with you, Megyn, even on a very sad day for those of us who have never lived under any other monarch, which is most people in the British Commonwealth these days.
Megyn Kelly: So let's start there. What is it about Queen Elizabeth's passing that has led to this level of news coverage and outpouring of support? To me this feels very different from the passing of any normal leader, a former president, especially somebody who's 96. This one feels very different.
Mark Steyn: I think it is. She became queen when Harry Truman was in the White House. Now that is ancient history to most Americans. It's a whatever it is a third of the entire history of the United States but the Queen has been there through Truman and Eisenhower and Kennedy and Johnson and all the others and has been a constant presence. My country, the Dominion of Canada is 155 years old. And she was Queen for 70 of those years, which is virtually half the entire history of the country. And I think at a time when we live in a super hyper present tense culture, as we do these days, that it's useful and comforting to have something that isn't up to the minute and that doesn't change and that just endures decade after decade, and even at 96, it's a tremendous shock when she's there one minute. Her last official act was she sent a message to the people of Saskatchewan on Wednesday after a terrible mass murder in that province in Canada. That was the day before she died. She's 96. And she's working until the day before she dies.
Megyn Kelly: And even on camera, as recently as Tuesday, she passed on Thursday, with incoming Prime Minister now Prime Minister Liz Truss. That was amazing. I mean, think about it, if you're that ill. And there was news about her hands looking bruised and darker on the back of her hands. So clearly, she'd been undergoing something. To bring yourself up, just to get dressed in that kind of state never mind go before the cameras, pose for the photo op. I mean, to the end, she sacrificed self in the name of public service.
Mark Steyn: Yes. And she'd been trying to will her failing body into being strong enough to fly back down to London, and be there to swear in the new members of the Privy Council and her doctors put their foot down and said you can't do it. But that's the thing. That's what she'd been doing....I was going to say since 1947, when she gave her famous speech from Cape Town in South Africa, pledging her life to the service of the peoples of our great imperial family. But in fact, she'd been doing it since before then. I was talking to a friend of mine, friend of mine's mother, who's a little old lady in her 90s. And she remembers being invited to tea with the Queen when Princess Elizabeth was a little I think it was a 7-year-old girl. And they arranged a sort of photo op for her with other 7-year-old girls from around the Empire. And my friend's mum got to go to that. I mean, that is the world is completely....that would be like 90 years ago. Everything about the world has been utterly transformed since then, but she's still there.
Megyn Kelly: Just a little sampling of today's papers. This is the Wall Street Journal for our YouTube audience. You can check this out: "Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96." And this is a picture from her 1953 coronation looking absolutely beautiful and spectacular. We'll be soon seeing one of those of King Charles. New York Times: "Queen and spirit of Britain, Elizabeth II whose seven decade reign linked generations, dies at 96. A country in turmoil enters a period of mourning, and transition." A more recent photo of the Queen and then the New York Post. Pretty great. Just a picture of her when she's younger, a glamour shot, "1926 to 2022. The Queen." She looks spectacular, she was a great beauty when she was younger, she really doesn't get enough credit for her natural good looks at a time when you know a lot of women were doing a lot more than she was to try to stay good looking in the public eye. But she was a beauty inside and out. And that's what made the British people and people around the world fall in love with her.
Mark Steyn: Well, people thought at that time, particularly in the U.S. that it was actually her sister, Princess Margaret, who was the great beauty and Princess Margaret was the one who led I guess a kind of pre Meghan Markle life. She was the one who would be going to parties with Frank Sinatra. And Frank and she would sing duets at those parties. And so she was generally thought, Princess Margaret was generally thought to be the beautiful and glamorous one. But in fact, I think as you said, as you put it, I think the Queen had an inner beauty and that beauty was basically her sense of service and her sense of duty. And so it meant that she didn't just think about frippery and surface things but she had a deep, profound inner beauty and a sense of what she needed to be through all the decades.
Megyn Kelly: Her elegance, her dignity, her supreme intellect, her education, all of it made her more attractive, and her reluctance to weigh in on anything controversial. Right, which, I mean, I'll get to that in one second with now King Charles whether he shares the same, I think, astute reluctance as his mother but there was a reason for that, there was a reason for that. Mark talk to us about when she took over the throne, and what was happening, and basically why she was so savvy in not making that position, political, what she was trying to do?
Mark Steyn: Well, she, she always took the position that the queen—and this is very different from her son, the queen doesn't need to do; the queen just needs to be. It's a system of government. And simply by the fact of her existence, she diminishes politicians, which I happen to think is a useful thing. There's a difference in the fact that Justin Trudeau is merely the First Minister of a government, he's not the head of state. The fact of the Queen's existence diminishes politicians, which I think is of supreme importance these days. And at the risk of sending all my conservative American friends bonkers, I think, is a defect of the American Constitution, which combines the head of state and head of government.
She had a firm view, she knew everything. I mean, I've had a couple of encounters from her, but they were private events. And so I got to have fairly extended exchanges, and to be in the presence of extended exchanges. She knew everything about everywhere, she took her job seriously. And so if she's going to a literary reception for the Commonwealth novel of the year, or whatever it is, and there's going to be some West African novelist there, she'd bone up on the West African literary scene. There wasn't anything she didn't have an informed view of. And that actually, if you're just there for year in year out. So if you can imagine Harry Truman was a smart guy, if you can imagine that Harry Truman was still here now 70 years later, how much experience and knowledge he would have, then that's actually the equivalent of what the Queen did through all these years,
Megyn Kelly: There was also talked throughout her reign about abolishing the monarchy. And you know, do we still need a royal family? And what about colonialism? And shouldn't there be payback and so on and so forth. And somehow, from the time she hit the microphones at age 14, to speak to other children who had been taken out of London during World War II, straight through to that that speech she made should I live? Should it be a long one or a short one in terms of her life, I will serve, I'll give you my heart. Somehow, she always found the way to really to be in service, to almost bend the knee to her people, to make sure that they knew she didn't see herself as ruler, she saw herself as someone who would work for the people and give to the people and try to do right by the people. Right? And to me, that seemed very clever when you're in a position that's precarious.
Mark Steyn: Well, I don't think I don't think it's clever. I think you're right, that in that South African speech for her 21st birthday, when she said, I pledge myself to our great imperial family and all the rest of it, she says, but I can't do it, without your support. So that view of it was there, you know, 75 years ago, in 1947, and has been generally true. She was born in 1926, which is just a couple of years after all the great empires of her cousins had fallen during the Great War. So the Russian Empire had gone, the German Empire had gone, the Austrian Empire had gone, the Turkish Empire had gone. And that's the world she was born into, in which you could be in the most stable and powerful royal family, and you had no great expectation of becoming queen and staying queen, because this is no longer an age of kings. And so to survive, you have to be pretty nimble, and you have to walk a very fine, careful tightrope between moving with the times, and at the same time, representing, you know, the mystic chords of memory, or whatever Lincoln would say. And she did that, you know, just a couple of months ago, she was doing a comedy sketch with Paddington Bear for her Platinum Jubilee and doing actually, you know, Joe Biden couldn't have managed those lines with the comic timing of the Queen and the Queen's 20 years older than him. So she was pretty good and pretty surefooted with one or two exceptions, until the end.
Megyn Kelly: Truly, when you look back on her public persona, you talk about the missteps. I'm sure you have them all but the only one that you know I think of is after the death of Princess Diana and you know she misread that situation according to reports. What we knew as lay people was she wasn't saying anything soon enough and people started to think she didn't respect Diana and that she wasn't getting where the public sentiment was and then the report was that Tony Blair went to her and said you need to get out there right away and say something. This calls for a grand gesture. And then she did, she made a speech, she I remember bowed the head as Diana's casket went by and you know, it's like a monarch doesn't bow, the monarch is bowed to but she did that. And she seems to have been very quickly forgiven by most folks for that.
Mark Steyn: Yeah, it was it was a troubling moment because it was a slightly deranged moment in London that week. And when the Queen was prevailed upon to make a statement, because initially they took the view that the boys were in shock, her grandsons had just lost their mother and they wanted to stay in Scotland, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and just look after the kids, which actually is a normal family thing to do. And Tony Blair said no, no, no, the mob's gonna smash through the gates of Buckingham Palace and ransack the joint if you don't get out there. But even then, even though she was prevailed upon to make that speech, I always remember that the Queen was very adroit in her choice of words. I remember she went at one point "Diana, Diana was" and there was a long pause, "an extraordinary woman." And in that choice of adjective, you can read anything you want, but the Queen was telling us, look, I understand there are certain things I have to do, but I'm not going to be shanghaied into peddling a load of hokum just because you guys are going bananas.
Megyn Kelly: Well, that is one of the things about Diana is, you know, now that we learn more about her and you know, she was not a particularly emotionally well person. And so the picture becomes more clear that there was damage being done by both parties. And so it wasn't all one side of the royal family against her. And now, you know, of course now you have Meghan Markel, trying to be the next Diana trying to make similar claims to what Diana made about the royal family, ignoring her alleged suicidality, and so on. Here we go again. And we know, well we have reason to believe that she's a serial liar who makes up things to generate public sympathy. So the Queen it wasn't her first rodeo when Meghan and Harry got married and pulled all that nonsense. Can I ask you about her though? Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead, Mark.
Mark Steyn: No, I just want to say something about that. I mean, Harry and Meghan are the weird ones....the Queen's view of the royal family, of being royal, is it's a job. It's a dull job a lot of times, it involves going, you know, and visiting a primary school in New Zealand and talking to a lot of five and six year old boys and girls from some corner of New Zealand or some corner of Belize or some corner of wherever. And that's not the most interesting thing to someone like Meghan Markle, who seemed to think she was marrying into A list celebrity. So her wedding guests, which is weird. I've never heard of this from anybody's wedding, you invite people you've never met before. So she invited George....normally at a wedding, you invite your family and friends. She invited total strangers like George Clooney. Now, I don't know why she would do that. But it seems to me that's a misconception of what being a member of a royal family is. One of the last pictures of the Queen's working life, from just a few weeks ago, was her receiving the governor of New South Wales, who's a very nice lady who happens to be the Queen's vice regal representative in Sydney, and whoop dee doo. I don't think when I'm 96, if I make it that long, I don't think you'd want to do it either, Megyn, be receiving a lady who's the governor of New South Wales and you're expected to be able to talk about the ins and outs of public life in New South Wales in an informed manner for half an hour or 45 minutes or whatever. That's not something most 96 year olds want to do. Meghan Markle thought that being in the royal family was just having a card to pal around with George Clooney all the time. And when she found it meant, you know, visiting regiments and visiting hospitals and being nice to small kids from the other side of the planet, she lost interest in it, thought this is yawnsville, this is a big yawnaroo, there's no George Clooney, there's no— I'm out of here. She had a fundamental misconception of the job.
Megyn Kelly: The reminds me of a line by Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm where he's trying to explain why he's not going to go play golf, even though he lost a bet that would require him to play golf, or go to temple, I think it was and he said, "I'm a senior citizen. My time is limited. At this point in my life I shouldn't be compelled into doing anything I don't want to do." Well, that's Larry David in his 70s. Look at Queen Elizabeth at 96. She still did it. She did her duty even though as you point out, I'm sure it wasn't exactly a top her list. She would have rather been with her dogs and her horses and her family.
A question on the Meghan Markle thing, because I've been thinking about it. I really think the Queen was the anti Meghan Markle. And it's one of the reasons we're so sad to lose her. Meghan Markle, and it's not just Meghan, but she's representative of a new generation that loves to whine, loves to complain, loves to invent problems, loves to take one random slight that may or may not have happened and blow it up into the entire narrative, when which she claimed in that interview with The Cut that the press are calling her children, the N word. Who? Where? That would have been a massive story, there would have been international backlash. So clearly, she's on the comments sections of random posts about her online where somebody got away with offering a terrible remark, if that—I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. And she blew it up into her narrative about how she's treated by the British press in an interview with New York Magazine. That says something about Meghan Markle, in the same way as the Queen has said something about her that it was never, never complain, never explain. She would, she would be the last to run to the cameras or the press, and start lambasting anyone in her family, even those who deserved it, or attackers of the royal family.
Mark Steyn: Yes, I think that I think that's true. And she regarded all that as part of the job. Another reason I actually quite like constitutional monarchy as a system, is because it ensures that there's always a certain percentage of people who object to it. You know, that's the nature of monarchy, you'll always have a small republican movement that doesn't want anything to do with it. Yet last night, there were pubs in Londonderry in Northern Ireland, which is within Her Majesty's dominions, where there were people laughing and joking and sneering at the idea of the dead queen. The Queen wouldn't have cared about that for a moment. She accepted that as part of the job. When she did Trooping the Colour, whatever it was, I think, about 30 years ago, she was riding her horse down Horse Guards Road in London, and some guy stepped out and pulled a gun directly in front of her and in front of her horse and the coppers got to him. It's not like president whatever in his 48-car motorcade, there's just the Queen on a horse. The next year she was back on the horse, because she regards that as part of the job. The risk is part of the job. The insults are part of the job.
And she handled it so well that for example, Maoris, Dan Wootton would know about this, but disrespectful Maoris tend to greet the Queen by turning around and dropping their trousers and baring their bottoms and after about after about the third time it happened, the Queen just would wave her gloved hand at all those pert Maori bottoms and its de facto incorporated in New Zealand ceremonial, the Queen just waving her hand at the massed ranks of Maori bottoms. The insults come with the job, the slights come with the job, the dangers, the risks come with the job, and the idea of Meghan Markle recycling the same half dozen grievances to ever diminishing returns on Oprah or whatever shows she's down to by now is absolutely pathetic.
Megyn Kelly: The Queen is taking criticism to this moment in a way that is offensive. Maybe the Queen would have blown it off. Almost certainly, yes, she would have, but the rest of us don't have to. People have lost their minds, Mark and it's just so disgusting. I'll give you one example I mentioned in the intro, her name is Uju Anya. She's a professor at Carnegie Mellon. And she currently teaches and conducts research as an associate professor of second language acquisition there. She tweeted yesterday, right after we found out about the Queen's death. "I heard the chief monarch of a thieving, raping, genocidal Empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating." She went on: "That wretched woman and her bloodthirsty throne have f___d generations of my ancestors on both sides of the family. And she supervised the government that sponsored the genocide of my parents, that my parents and siblings survived. May she die in agony."
And goes on and on and on. Carnegie Mellon has now distanced itself from her saying that this does not, It does not condone the offensive and objectionable messages. Even Jeff Bezos responded to her saying, "This is someone supposedly working to make the world better? I don't think so." And she continued to rip on him, just well, an additional bit of color. Chris Ruffo points out that she's a critical race theorist actually at Carnegie Mellon, who believes that "White women consistently vote to protect white supremacy and that white mothers of biracial children have Mandingo BBC" means big black, you know, what fantasies of black men, "and regularly call their own children the N word." Oh really? Okay, so this is who's teaching America's children. That's the biggest problem here. But she represents a fair amount of folks on the left, the far left who have reacted this way.
Mark Steyn: Well, people need to get real, you know, we live in a world where essentially, many Western nations no longer think of themselves as conventional states. But our enemies do, China and Russia and Iran do, they think in conventionally Imperial terms, that strong states dominate weak states. That's been a fact of life throughout history. The fact is, the British Empire was the most benign empire the world has ever known, which is why almost all its colonies are now quite happy to recognize the Queen and now the King, which I can't quite bring myself to say, as head of the Commonwealth. They belong to a modern Commonwealth of Nations, all these supposedly downtrodden colonies in which according to this idiot, the Queen inflicted genocide on them. They're all quite happy to be photographed alongside her at the Commonwealth conference every two years. This was the most benign empire in history, which is why it's held together as a post Imperial Commonwealth, whose High Commissioners in London on Saturday morning will be partaking of the Accession Council and helping proclaim the new sovereign. So she's talking absolute ahistorical codswallop. And it's the imposition of her own peculiar obsessions on an institution that, in fact, was one of the first post racial institutions in the Western world.
If you look at any picture, you can pick a picture from Buckingham Palace a couple of years back of the Queen with her viceroys from all over the Commonwealth. She's there, the little white old lady surrounded by black and brown, and yellow men, and she is perfectly happy with them, because the monarchy was one of the first truly post racial institutions until Meghan Markle came along and decided that in fact, it's basically Bull Connor in whatever it was in the 1960s. Until that the Queen was recognized as actually having presided over a post racial transformation in the Commonwealth.
Megyn Kelly: There's now going to be a 10 day period of mourning in the UK and no parliamentary business will be done is my understanding. So what is this? What's next for Britons? Can they get around King Charles? What do you think is coming at us in the next 10 days and year?
Mark Steyn: Well, we don't have.... in the Westminster system we don't have that thing, which I frankly think is one of the worst elements of the US Constitution, the so called three month peaceful transition of power, as you call it, and it was actually shocking to me at 6:30 yesterday evening, when Buckingham Palace announced "The Queen has died peacefully at Balmoral, the King and the Queen Consort will remain there this evening and leave for London...." And I thought, "Wait a minute, the King and the Queen Consort?" Yes, it all takes place in 15 seconds. And I haven't heard anybody actually say "the King" to me since I was a little boy and occasionally little old ladies recalling some event after the war, would say "Oh, yeah, I remember I think it was in 1947 that the King came to my village."
And so I find even just, you know, the King, His Majesty, I find the sort of overnight change in lingo actually very unsettling. And it fills me with great foreboding. I think the Queen held a lot of things together with great skill. And I'm not entirely sure that her son is up to it. But monarchy, the price of monarchy is that you have to weather substandard and low grade monarchs and get through it until the next one and you hope you have a Queen Victoria, you hope you have an Elizabeth II, you hope you have a George V. And if they're not quite in that league, you just get by with the throw of the genetic lottery dice, and you make the best of it.
Megyn Kelly: We're certainly wishing King Charles a long and healthy life. But I will say that the folks who take care of the monarchs and their families at Buckingham Palace seem to do a great job. The Queen mum dying at 101, Prince Philip dying at 99, Queen Elizabeth dying at 96. Pretty good health care inside the palace. So I'm thinking he's going to have a long and healthy reign.
Mark Steyn: I think a lot of people in the United Kingdom will be taking that as a subtle dig at the National Health Service, Megyn, which has completely fallen apart during the COVID years. But you are right. The women in the House of Windsor have generally been long lived and the men not so much. And I certainly did hope that the Queen would carry on and I want to just say the Queen was fantastically funny, which I always loved about her. And the other thing that people don't get about her, I think Monsieur Macron mentioned this, she was completely fluent in French. And I remember being at an event, a Canadian event with her and a rather surly Quebec separatist was presented to her and she had a very spirited conversation in French with him. But I what I loved about the way she spoke French was she spoke fluently but exactly like the queen, so she would be going "Oh Monsieur, c'est absolument délicieux." And the guy was completely stunned by it. But he had to admit that she spoke fantastic French, but just like you would expect an English monarch to speak, with that cut glass accent. I loved listening to her do that and it absolutely threw that guy.
Megyn Kelly: It seems to me if the Queen wanted to win you over, you would be won over. That is why today she's got statements coming out from every single, you know, obviously living and former US President. Vladimir Putin came out with a statement talking about what a loving person she was. I mean, it was just the number of people has been absolutely stunning. Mark Steyn, such a pleasure to see you and hear from you today. Thank you for being here.
Mark Steyn: Thanks a lot, Megyn. Always a pleasure.
Comment on this item (members only)
Viewing and submission of reader comments is restricted to Mark Steyn Club members only. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. If you are already a member, please log in here: