When dealing with British politics, it's important to acknowledge that as long as the Monarchy and Parliament are in place, formality and practicality coexist. The Monarch is the figurehead, and Parliament is the functioning system of government. Although the Prime Minister leads the country in the way the Americans associate their Head of State doing, King George VI during WW2 actually served a practical function. But how? The King and Queen weren't allowed to fight, and due to their elevated status and entitlements, were insulated from the rest of society. The King and the Queen often made visits to bombing sites and munitions factories, speaking to the common people to boost their morale. During the peak of WW2, the royals experienced the same food rations as the rest of society, and still made public relations visits to speak to their people. I give them credit for that. They could've sought safety until the end of the war. Thus, it looks to me like cheerleading the soldiers during wartime is the most practical function of the impractical, formal Monarchy. Impressively, the British didn't create propaganda to skew this fact; that's Churchill, not George VI, with Stalin and Roosevelt in the above photo at the Yalta Conference. This lack of propaganda speaks volumes about the British political orientation.
The willingness of Britain to allow a Parliament to coexist with a (plastic) Monarchy is part of what prevented them from having a civil war. Sure, there was economic strife and class warfare, but it was not totalitarian, and actually up until the latter half of the 20th century, when it became more free-market based, it was pretty Socialistic. This is why they l-o-v-e-d the USSR. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is exactly the type of political organization the British desired at the time. Though Britain was too small to be economically sufficient, they didn't want to be capitalists because to them that meant uber-class warfare and imperialism. The Soviet Union was huge and economically prosperous so they became the benchmark for British government and economy; socialistic, anti-imperialistic, and non-isolationist.
Although the British had Leftist leanings, they weren't overly politically organized or charged. "English political thinking is much governed by the word 'They.' 'They' are the higher-ups, the mysterious powers who do things to you against your will. But there is a widespread feeling that 'They,' though tyrannical, are not omnipotent. 'They' will respond to pressure if you take the trouble to apply it: 'They' are even removable. And with all their political ignorance the English people will often show surprising sensitiveness when some small incident seems to show that 'They' are overstepping their mark. Hence, in the midst of seeming apathy, the sudden fuss every now and then over a rigged by-election or a too-Cromwellian handling of Parliament." (p. 625) Their orientation had a sort of sleepy allure; they minded their own business and allowed themselves to be governed until the government abused them, only then asserting themselves. What's even more important is that the English people knew their system of government was secular, in that it was made by man, instituted by man, and thus wasn't all-powerful or perfect. There were no saviors or prophets or revolutionaries (they had a remarkable apathy toward revolution, as it were), which is impressive because historically the terms 'monarch' and 'deity' has been fused together. In mid 20th century Britain though, the royals were simply humans who drank tea, and government officials were simply humans who shuffled papers. Or smoked long cigars.
Due to the resounding secularity of the Monarchy, the English people felt that they lived in a sort of democracy. No, it clearly wasn't a democracy, and "it may have to work in indirect ways, by strikes, demonstrations and letters to the newspapers, but it can and visibly does affect government policy." (p. 625) Not only did the people have the capacity to affect policy, they knew they had the power to affect policy. These mechanisms are different. Ignorance is often used to cover up limitation, but since this wasn't covered up in some great governmental conspiracy, the English didn't feel threatened into a position of striking at their own government.
Winston Churchill knew what he had to do and didn't hesitate. He wasn't about to let the Nazis trample Europe without a fight, and didn't deceive himself into "neutrality" because the Stormtroopers would soon be busting doors down. His political leanings at that point were irrelevant. Reality was reality. He led the sole resistance (at the time) against Nazi Germany, but credit must go to where it's due. King George VI didn't flex a royal ego through demanding disproportionate recognition or more participation than he was worth during the Third Reich. His morale-campaign helped energize the British on the battlefield, which improved what Orwell described as the British "royalist sentiment"--which has waxed and waned throughout history--allowing their political system to continue into the second half of the 20th century.
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