It is with a heavy collective heart that your editorial staff breaks its lengthy silence today, which it does out of the necessity of reporting the demise of an old friend and benefactor of humanity: The Queen’s English Society, dedicated these past four decades to the proper use of Her Majesty’s language.
Rhea Williams, chairman of the Society (whose punctuation guide alone runs a hefty 6,000 words), announced the venerable organization’s departure from the stage in a message to its members. Despite her gender, Ms. Williams insists on the title ‘chairman,’ in accordance with proper linguistic practice. Her crusades have, over the years, included efforts to raise the speech of BBC commentators, whose local accents the Society has derided in favor of Received Pronunciation, a structuralist term for what’s proper. In explanation – or defense – of its mission, the Society has stated “we prefer the prescriptive approach to the descriptive approach, as we do not want the language to lose its fine or major distinctions.” The British paper The Daily Mail blamed the demise of Ms. Rhea’s group on Twitter, contractions, and Americanisms.
At the news of the Society’s closure, Gyles Brandreth, a former Conservative member of the English Parliament and patron of the Society, sounded an optimistic note: “The Queen’s English isn’t under threat,” Brandreth told The Independent. “Her Majesty can sleep easy. The language is still in the good hands of all the people who speak good English.”