Saturday, 30 October 2010

What's the point of the monarchy?

We have a country full of pomp and tradition, and in its place that can be welcome. But as much as it may excite the tourists to head to London and see the changing of the guard, why exactly in the 21st century do we still have as our Head of State someone who did nothing more than be born from one particularly lucky womb?

It really is quite bizarre when you think about it that we still give so much money and status to someone based on their class when we live in one of the most developed democracies in the world. We long ago decided that no-one's bloodline should mean that they are given more power than someone else, but we forgot about the monarch.

We all pay for the grace and favour lifestyles of people like Prince Charles, who without the ability to piggyback on the position of Prince would never be able to function in a normal society. The idea that this man could one day be King should frankly be terrifying.

The man had the most prestigious education money can buy, and yet came out with a B and a C in his A-levels. With those grades you'd laugh at most people if they applied to Cambridge, but no, he used his position to get into one of the world's best universities where he again spectacularly failed to live up to his position, scraping out with a 2:2. Now, many people come out with hard-earned 2:2's from university, but not only did he only scrape this despite the UK's best possible education, but this is the man who claims that when he becomes King he will speak up for the country's interests? I'd rather you stayed out of it Charlesy boy.

So what are these views that he'll be 'standing up for'?

Well, he's an ardent critic of modern science, saying it lacks a soul. As such, his charity, The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health (now closed as of this year due to accusations of fraud), were fervent supporters of 'Alternative Medicine', and huge lobbiers trying to force the NHS to pour ever more wasted funds into these quack treatments. They spent money on teaching medical students to 'embrace complementary approaches to medical care. You could replace the word 'complementary' with 'bogus' and it would make much more sense. (For more on why I hate Alternative Medicine with such a passion, other than the fact it doesn't work, read here.)

He also claims to be an environmentalist, standing up against GM crops and warning of climate change. Whilst its a rare positive that he's standing against climate change, and I applaud that, it'd maybe be a little more convincing if he didn't undo all that good work by taking private jets for all manner of trivial visits.

But even if he wasn't an idiot, the argument would be no weaker for scrapping the monarchy. It's a bygone from an age that has passed, and we should be rid of it.

Right now as our Head of State we have someone who was unelected and who is totally unaccountable. The monarch may not have as many powers as they once did, but don't presume they have none. It's through the Crown that some of the most undemocratic aspects of our government are allowed to remain.

  • The royal prerogative allows the Prime Minister to start wars and sign treaties (amongst other things) without having to ask parliament. Laughing in the face of democracy.
  • The privy council, senior politicians who act as advisors to the monarch, can enact laws without having a vote in parliament.
  • The power of the monarch to appoint whomever they likes as Prime Minister. In reality, this goes to the leader with the majority in the commons, but it is not impossible for this to be unclear, (as in 1957) and the monarch could have the deciding vote.

What we need is a change, a change so that we can elect our Head of State. The campaign group Republic have an excellent example of how this could be introduced, with us keeping the power of parliament, whilst gaining an elected head of state who would have the limited powers that are needed to be held outside of government. By being elected that person would be accountable, and finally we could rightly claim that we truly live in a democracy.


radical royalist said...

sounds like Obama during his electoral campaign in 2008. And look how his promises turned sour.

Good save the Queen!

Chris said...

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'Sounds like Obama'. He wanted to abolish a monarch?

And the reasons why Obama hasn't lived up to his expectations are for another day entirely.

It'd be nice if you could point to what you disagree with in my post, as clearly your name would suggest you do disagree, instead of referring to things which are very spuriously related indeed. What you said makes no sense.

'God save the Queen'. In one sentence you've included a deity I have no time for and a relic from a bygone age. Not the best tagline.

radical royalist said...

... we still give so much money and status to someone based on their class ...

Do you know, how much republics cost? With which country would you like to compare the cost of the monarchical head of state of the United Kingdom with that of the president of the French republic? Sarkozy costs the French taxpayer officially twice as much as the Queen. Or would you prefer the German model? It is cheaper than the French, but still more expensive than the British Monarchy. And did you know, that the German taxpayer not only finance one president, but FIVE. The eldest is 91-year old Walter Scheel who was elected in 1974 and since he was not re-elected in 1979 he receives the full presidential salary plus chauffeur driven car, secretary and a full functional office. The same privileges are enjoyed by three other “retired” presidents.

We all pay for the grace and favour lifestyles of people like Prince Charles ...
Prince Charles is not paid by the British taxpayer. He lives of the income of the Duchy of Cornwall. And HE pays for the Duchess of Cornwall as well as for Prince William and Prince Harry.

Check out the The Prince of Wales' finance report.

Chris said...

The system I'm advocating is nothing like the French model, whose President is clearly politically active. The model from Republic sees the President as more of a constitutional head, with the difference to a monarch being that they are elected and accountable.

And they are not cheaper than most presidents, even by the Palace's own very dodgy figures which don't take into account many of their actual expenses.

British Monarch - Officially £40m (More like £183m once all expenses are taken in)

Ireland Head of State - £1.8m

Austria - £3.5m

Germany (most expensive of the presidents) - £26m

And the Duchy of Cornwall only serves Charles because he is Prince, so that doesn't add to the argument. He doesn't fund himself, the status he has as Prince funds him. My argument is that just because he was born from a certain woman shouldn't mean he is entitled to the income from this estate.

That money should rightfully go the taxpayer, and fo the moment we should at least be taxing the income!

Chris said...

I should also add, even if it wasn't the case that the monarch costs more, and worked out cheaper (which it clearly isn't), I would still be in favour of aboloishing it.

This isn't a matter of trimming some fat from the budget, it is about restoring true democracy and taking away the blood rights of a family who did nothing to earn them other than be spectacularly lucky at birth.