Time For Brits To Think Again?

by Englishman 20 Replies latest jw friends

  • Englishman

    Lots of people have been asking me why the United Kingdom has a monarchy. What, they ask, is the point?

    It's a complex issue that I haven't really thought much about until recently. All my life there has been a King or Queen on the throne, so maybe I've just got used to it. Whenever a citizen of the UK becomes a soldier, a boy scout or policeman, or even joins the Freemasons or Buffaloes, oaths are sworn to serve the reigning monarch faithfully, even until death.

    However, the wind of change is starting to blow, and I believe that major changes will soon take place in the way that our country is governed. The following article is a letter that appeared in today's Times, and explains why we have needed a monarchy up until the present time:

    Time for Britain to think again

    From Professor Philip Allott

    Sir, It is a wonderful thing to watch a whole nation rethinking itself. For 12 centuries, from Alfred the Great to Elizabeth II, the monarchy has been a mirror in which the British people see what they have been, what they are, and what they could be. We have never accepted, in theory or in practice, the idea of absolute monarchy, and we have disposed of three kings and a pseudo-monarch (Cromwell) who misunderstood their role. Alfred was the first and the last of our kings to be called Great.

    By avoiding a written constitution, we have been able to renegotiate and reinterpret constantly what Thomas Hobbes and John Locke brilliantly identified, in the 17th century, as a social contract — that is to say, a contract with ourselves to which the monarch is also a contracting party. Century after century, we have used the monarchy as the focus of our unity as we have resisted one threat after another to our very existence — from Danes, French, Spanish, Dutch, French again, Germans, and Russians.

    In the 21st century we face a new threat and hence a new challenge to our self-imagining. As the essential task of government becomes the almost impossible task of managing a national economy within a half-formed European society and within a chaotic global society, the parliamentary political system which we inherited from the 19th century is no longer adequate to meet the needs of post-imperial Britain.

    Great state occasions encourage us to suppose that the deep structure of our constitution will allow us yet again to find a way to survive and prosper as a nation. But they remind us also that the struggle to rethink ourselves is unrelenting and never gets any easier.


    Interesting, eh? Me, I like all the Pomp & Circumstance that goes with a monarchy, but I guess it's not everyones cup of tea. Would you like to see the United Kingdom relinquish its monarchical status or do you think that it's time we let it go?


  • Naeblis

    I think it's good to hold on to tradition, if for no other reason than people in general find security in the familiar. As long as your real government is controlled by (semi) competent people then why not keep the monarchy? I think it will be a LONG time before England ever abolishes it. THe support for the monarchy is waning here in Canada, but it's still strong.

  • Sirona
  • D wiltshire
    D wiltshire


    How do Britts, Irish, and Scotts feel about the money used to support the royal families?

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  • Amazing

    Hi E-Man: Didn't Britain get rid of the Monarchy once, but it failed?

    Brits shouldn't feel bad about taking oaths to the King or Queen ... in the USA we take a oath or pladge to a piece of cloth called the Flag! At least Brits have a live person to think about serving.

    Our federal politicians take an oath to be loyal to and enforce the Constitution ... and idea or concept ... so that is okay I guess ... but I never have gotten use to the pladge to the Flag. It is a symbol of a concept, but I would rather pladge to the concept.

    I am sure Brits will hold onto the Monarchy for many decades to come. I have a feeling that by the time Elizabeth passes away, Charles will be too old to be much of a King ... and his oldest son will likely be the first younger Monarch in a long time. Maybe he will help bring an end to it. All he has to do is take the Windsor family money and run. And have fun in the sun ... why go through all that pomp and circumstance? Just take off for the south seas, and enjoy life.

    Whatever the case, the UK seems to work well with the Monarchy as it is ... so there is no rush to get rid of it any time soon.

  • LittleToe

    I think we should do the reverse of Cromwell and get rid of parliment.
    Think how much we could save by removing the buerocrats.

  • Englishman

    D Wiltshire,

    The monarchy actually produces many more times it's cost in revenue from tourism alone, plus, the Royals have private incomes from vast property holdings of their own. The actual amounts voted to them by the government is relatively miniscule, it's known as the "Civil List". http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_819000/819489.stm


    Yup, Charles 1 went against the wishes of Parliament and was eventually found guilty of treason, so he was disposed of. http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~crossby/ECW/history/index.html

    Although he was always a small fellow, he was the only King of England who commenced his reign at a height of 5 feet 2 inches and finished it at a little over 4 feet.


  • Abaddon

    I like the monarchy for pragmatic reasons.

    What is the point in having an elected President if the President had no power and was just a head of state?

    This is the most likely choice if England became a Republic; we're unlikely to go for anything like the American Presidental system as it invests too much power in one person - a common complaint of Prime Minister Blair is he has a 'Presidental style', which essentially means he does what he wants. The English don't like that.

    If then we are talking about a figurehead we are talking about creating or allocating a residence, staff, salaries, security etc., just to have some powerless foobar shake hands at important events and choose a temprary Prime Minister if the previous one spontaneously combusts or chokes on a peanut.

    Canadian and Australian Republicans seem to miss this point; they don't even pay for the buggers, bar a lick of paint and some ribbon whenever there is a Royal Visit, and for reasons that completely elude me want to pay to have some dickwad waste their money when we offer a free service.

    The Royal Family do all this head-of-state crap this quite nicely. We breed the poor bastards for it, although looking at the coverage of the Queen Mother's funeral, it's interesting to note William and Harry, by benefit of Diana, have crawled out of the horse-faced short-arsed gene puddle that is the Royal Family.

    What's more, technically speaking, although the Royal Family do get money from the State, this is in return for a huge amount of land that the Crown gave to the Government in the 18th C, I think. If they stopped giving the Royal Family the money, they would, under law, be allowed to sue for the return of their land under the laws of breach of contract.

    As the rental revenue from the former Crown Estates FAR exceeds the amount the Government pays the Royal Family, this would be dumb, especially if, in addition to loosing several tens of millions of revenue each year, the Government would then effectively have to carry on paying for the new President.

    Also, President's suck ass and lack class. They are elected to their post, and even if (like Eire) they are just a figurehead, they should act a certain way and seldom do. If they are a President with power, like the American President, then it's even worse.

    If one of our Royals makes a booboo, we don't have to say a thing. Why would anyone take the idle mutterings of an inbreed anachronism seriously? Entertainment? Yes! Diplomatic disaster? No!

    On the rare occasions they do something good, to paraphrase Prince Hal in Henry VI pt1, by how much better than their word are they? They didn't choose, they were born to it. If they make a good job of it, well done, if not, what do you expect?

    The Royal Family's behaviour in the '80's and '90's was actually NORMAL... it's only it clashed with the image that the Queen Mother had strived to create since the '30's.

    Before that the Royals were a debt ridden bunch of immoral adulterers who were more often than not slightly barmy. Even the son of a notorious prude like Victoria managed to screw, drink and gamble his way round England until the old dear had the decency to snuff it and let him be King for a while. The only thing the Royal's didn't do this century was assasinate each other... but then there's Diana...

    Fergie and Charles are fine examples of Royals, and Charles is now doing a Prince Hall par excellence;

    So, when this loose behavior I throw off
    And pay the debt I never promised,
    By how much better than my word I am,
    By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
    And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
    My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
    Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
    Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
    I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
    Redeeming time when men think least I will.
    (Act I, Scene ii: Lines 200-210)
    Think about the bad rep he had after Diana snuffed it, what with Camilla and all! He's turned PR ace and will probably be marrying her in the next year or two, with the "Nation behind him"! Marrying the women he boned behind "England's Rose's" back (although Diana was a parvenu, poor thing), and with common approval!

    As well as being a nice amusement for the English, there is one more reason why the Royal Family is better than a Presidency.


    Yup. Huge plaid-clad, baseball-hatted, camera-waving crowds of tourists from the US of A. Hordes of incomprehensible Japanese carrying cameras so small and advanced they not only tell you where you are but where you will be in five minutes. Generic Scandanavians with backpacks. Excitable Italians and Spaniards. Gaggles of French school kids who, for reasons unknown, have all sprayed their hair yellow. Dour German's muttering under their breath "In Germany zis never vould be like zis... ". Canadians sneering at the American's because they feel so culturaly superior to them (Canadian's tend to do this far more than is strictly neccesary). Australians and New Zealanders getting mortally offended if you mistake one for the other (fun game).

    Would a Presidency generate the huge piles of moolah that a Monarchy does?

    No. Even if you retained the horses and the furry hats and the gold braid and the bands, Royalty is a neat way of making money.

    I suppose the question is, will Queen Elizabeth II (or tree sloth as I like to think of her... ) abdicate in favour of Charles.

    I always used to joke she wouldn't until the Queen Mother died, as she was waiting until then, as if she abdicated she would be the King Mother, and the Queen Mum would become the King Mother Mother, which is just daft.

    But sadly, I think she'll wait until she's dead, if you know what I mean. Given the fact that, horse-faced and short-arsed the Royal Family might be, they have good genes for longlevity, Charles III could be a very old man and be King for quite a short time before we get to William III.

    As for a proper Constitution, this is repugnantly overdue, but given the bunch of wankers in Parliament at the moment, I'd rather rely on Common Law and Magna Carta until their a bunch of people in their who can frame of Bill of Rights worth a damn.

  • Pathofthorns

    I don't mind the tradition or Canada's ties to Britain. It is a piece of tradition that sets Canada apart from the US, and without it I think we'd lose alot of the bit of identity we have and be seen as more American than we really are.


  • ozziepost

    Some observations from afar:

    Last year Mrs Ozzie and I toured through Europe. (Didn't quite make it to Weston!) We found that travel across borders was so simple now by way of the European Community. But the constant changing our 'thinking' from one currency to another was a real bugger! I personally found it OK with the notes but what happens when you get change? And which coins make up the notes? OK, it sounds schoolboy stuff, but when you're travelling, you don't have time to sit and study. Now I understand the Euro is in place and travel through Europe must be so much easier.

    I mention this because, as we know, the Brits have elected not to go Euro, but to retain the pound sterling.

    Until I tasted and saw for myself, I held great sentimental value for each country having its own currency. But now? I'm still sentimental but I can see that the practicalities outweigh the sentimentality.

    It seems to me that the things we're sentimental about, we simply have to move on from and 'join the crowd', as it were.

    But does this mean that the Crown is passe? I don't believe so. Other monarchies are retained in a perfectly 'modern' setting. Doesn't the Dutch queen ride a bike through the streets?

    Imagine if Britain (or Australia for that matter) became a republic. With all due respect to the Yanks but their presidents in the past 20 or 30 years have not exactly been a great recommendation for the presidential office, have they?

    Eman, you make an excellent point about the tourism dollar, too, that's generated from the monarchy.

    So who gets Ozzie's vote? Ozzie's a socialist BUT my vote goes for the Crown.


    "If our hopes for peace are placed in the hands of imperfect people, they are bound to evaporate."

    - Ron Hutchcraft Surviving the Storms of Stress

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