He will discuss how the past few years have been transformative and how, as it draws towards its end, the whole of the UK faces huge uncertainties about its future.
Marr has written a book on the subject, ‘Elizabethans: How Modern Britain Happened’, which explores the scale of social change since the Queen ascended the throne in 1953.
He said: “When the Queen dies it will be a tremendously traumatic moment for a lot of people. I think it will cause the British to look again at themselves.”
Regardless of anything, he sees climate change as the greatest issue confronting the world. And it is a world that has changed in many ways during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
He said: “If you gathered together a random group of people in 1953 and now you would see a lot of differences. Today many more people would be black and Asian, we wouldn’t be wearing hats, we would be fatter.
“But it’s only when you get inside their heads that you see the real differences – those are of attitude – towards class, gender, sexuality, race, our place in the world. That’s where the really big changes are.”
He notes that the UK in the 50s was a country with grand ambitions and said: “When the Queen came to the throne the British had two great projects. One was largely a project of the left, which was to build the greatest, most generous welfare state in the world – on the back of the success of the NHS.
“The second was, broadly speaking but no means entirely, a project of the right, which was to replace the empire, which was already going, with a big new important role in the world. Both of these failed, largely due to a third factor, that we never earned enough to pay for them.”
Despite this, Marr says there have been many positives: “We pulled away from the heavy industry that we felt so much defined us and had a big success in replacing it with soft power.
“Historians and others often underestimated our success in areas like the arts, film, advertising, financial services. We are an immensely creative country. The book celebrates many of those creative people.”
● Andrew Marr will be speaking on Tuesday, September 29 at 11 am. For full details see www.wigtownbookfestival.com.