The Gilded Carriage
of Queen Victoria
Same time in May the United Press correspondent sent this
message from London:
Queen Victorias gilded state carriage, packed
in a huge wooden crate, left today for Baghdad to become the state coach
of Prince Regent Abdul Illah of Iraq. Then followed details concerning
the route the crate would take (by ship to Basra on the Persian Gulf and
thence to Baghdad), and the insurance value of the carriage.
I can see Abdul Illah of Iraq, the uncle of the boy king,
traveling over the dust streets of Baghdad in the shiny gold carriage
and the Arabs staring at him with bulging eyes and gaping mouths. Six
horses at least will draw the carriage, and the dust will whirl high.
Tarbooshed gendarmes will ride alongside and distribute blows with their
whips to right and left.
Queen Victoria, who, at the age of 18, ascended the throne
of England, went in her gilded carriage to the Parliament to read her
royal speeches; in it she traveled to Windsor Castle; in it she showed
herself to her people who loved the girl queen, the beautiful woman queen,
and the widow queen: in this guilded carriage she rode when Disraeli made
her Empress of an Empire. The 63 years of her reign were the years when
Britain was queen among the nations.
If, on rummaging through the attic, you found your mothers
wedding gown, would you give it away or sell it? Of course not. But the
British have lost all sense of propriety. The gilded coach of Queen Victoria,
their great queen, soon will carry Abdul Illah, and donkeys and camels
will look at it in amazement, though they never heard of Queen Victoria.
Nor did the people of Baghdad hear of her.
Neither a chivalrous Disraeli nor a pious Gladstone could
have conceived the idea of wooing an Abdul Illah with part of the regalia
of his queen. But in the mind of Bevin, who was boss of the transport
workers union before he became head of the Foreign Office, Queen
Victorias gilded coach is a proper conveyance for Abdul Illah. There is an obvious desire to buy the heart
of the Prince Regent of Iraq, especially since the treaty of Portsmouth
between Great Britain and Iraq was not ratified in Baghdad and to Iraqi
Prime Minister who signed it was chased out of the country. I have looked
through the annals of Great Britain of the days of Victoria and in all
63 years of her reign I have found no similar instance of such sycophancy
on the part of the British Government.
What Iraq needs are not gilded carriages but plows and tractors
and people. The Iraqi Government has done nothing to absorb a substantial
portion of the human material which drifts as Arab refugees in the Middle
East. Neither has Great Britain done anything to help Iraq become again
the breadbasket it was in the past when its population was 12 times larger
and prospered; its fields were irrigated; and its trade embraced many
countries. But that was long ago! Iraq today is far behind what it was
25 centuries ago.
The state treasury of Iraq is empty because the oil of the
land does not flow to Haifa. Its fields are dry or swampy; they are not
irrigated, not cultivated. Its peasants starve. Its army has shown itself
to be impotent. It may be that all these deficiencies are the psychological
reason for its Regents desire to ride in the gilded carriage of
the Queen who lent her name to an era.
Tekel: Thou art weighed in the balances and art
found wanting (Daniel 5:27).
Were not these words spoken of that very country? And wanting
it has remained until today.