Friday, 14 January 2011

The monarchy

I would say for most of my life I've been a "non-royalist", that is to say I'm not a rabid supporter and find much of the trappings of the monarchy a outdated anachronism. I don't like the pomp and splendour with it - I think it overblown, too expensive, and condescending to the general population.

However as I've got older I've had to asked myself - "So say you could replace the monarchy. What would you do?"

And increasingly I find myself struggling to come up with an alternative. Do I really want an elected president? Hmm... possibly not. Why not? Well it'll mean again candidates who are there for themselves not the people. Candidates on zealot missions which might spark the public for a period but potentially leave us with messy legacies.

Also look around you, this maybe again a product of my age and getting to realise that no one is any better or worse than another generally but here is a question. Where are the statesmen (and women)? Last real statesmen we had a prime minister I'd argue was Ted Heath - he'd probably have been a better president than he was a prime minister. But today? I don't see a candidate that I'd like to see the complete "Head of State".

So advantages of the monarchy?

It is fixed. We don't have the political fighting of presidents and presidential elections - the Queen is the Queen she doesn't come and go.

The monarchy therefore does give continuity and a personal allegiance point. You can swear allegiance a flag but to swear "for Queen and country" gives a personal bond to your oath.

So I think on balance the monarchy is a good thing perhaps. I'd like to see less grandeur in the trappings of it but lots of people love all that. As I say I still think that harks back too much to a time gone by.

However the monarchy should know it's place - we did chop off the Kings head once before - only to replace it with a religious zealot, maybe that is why we did decide we ought to have them back. But the monarchy is not an absolute ruler the monarch is as much a servant of the people as a soldier. I think our current Queen knows this well. I don't agree with Prince Charles when he enters political debate - sorry that isn't your place, and your birth right as heir to the throne should make that clear.

Having watched "The Kings Speech" some other questions that have been rattling about in my head for ages came to the fore. Can Charles ascend to the throne now he is married to Camilla? She is a divorcee and he will be the head of the Church of England - a side job that comes with the crown courtesy of course of Henry VIII and all that. Given that only 80 years ago Edward VIII had to abdicate due to this issue has the constitution changed that much? The church doesn't recognise divorce and therefore the Head of the Church can't marry a divorcee.

When the time comes it will be interesting to see how this is handled in the modern age? Personally I wouldn't mind seeing Charles forgo his ascension the throne in favour of his son William as that would side step the issue and as I say I have a distaste for Charles' making political commentary.


  1. I was very anti in my teens (through being a punk fan mainly), but seemed to have got more time for the institution and tradition as I've got older.

    I can't see Charles ever being King..

  2. Off to see the film this weekend. Agree with you about Charles, passed his sell by date if he ever had one, bit of an old dinosaur really.
    Still wondering if rumours about the butler putting toothpaste on his brush every morning can really be true?!

  3. It's the stuff like having to curtsey and leave a room backwards. More the fact that the Queen expects it. Lots of nonsensical fuss.

    I agree there's not an alternative but think monarchy definitely needs updating.