Queen's Private Opinion Goes Public

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Queen Elizabeth II on tour in Chester, England celebrating her Diamond Jubilee
From and

Is it possible to lead a country without disclosing your political allegiance?

Granted, some of the world's rulers back in the day might have been a little difficult to read. But in the 21st century, the idea that any head of state could keep his or her views about the world private is, frankly, ridiculous. Unless, of course, you're the Queen of England. Part of her mystique is the fact that, in all her years, no one has let slip what she might have said behind the closed doors of the palace.

That is, until now. The BBC was forced to apologize this week after revealing the Queen Elizabeth's views on the radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, which were disclosed off the record in a private conversation. 

Paddy O'Connell, host of the BBC's Broadcasting House, explains that although this breach might not seem like such a big deal on this side of the pond, in the UK, it is thought to be essential that the royal family remain impartial political - or at the very least, keep their views to themselves. "The issue here is that the Queen's views are meant to be private, and when expressed on the air on the radio, they cause shock, because the last time we've ever seen this sort of view portrayed was probably in that film with Helen Mirren."

Of course, it is unrealistic to expect the royals not to have views at all. It is widely known that Prince Charles writes letters to ministers in order to attempt to influence their positions and actions. There is a push by the press in the UK to have these letters made public, the argument being that the electorate has a right to know what is being said by their nominal leaders.

Paddy O'Connell thinks that complete openness of the kings and queens would lead to "madness" - but whether the support of a royal would help or hurt a candidate or a cause, it is difficult to say.