‘You guy’s still have royalty?’ The American comedian Doug Stanhope says incredulously. ‘How embarrassing is that? You have Queen’s, Dukes, and Princesses. Do you have Wizards and fairies, and dragons? What kind of dungeon’s and dragon’s bullshit is that?’ ‘I am expected to apologise for George Bush. How dare you even make fun of any democratically elected official when you still have this Dark Age’s nonsense going on.’
This to me pretty much sums up the Royal family. An archaic system, that promotes privilege to an elite few. It represents what’s wrong with the UK in the sense of a class system who are expected to rule whilst the rest are there to serve.
In a supposedly democratic country it is quite ridiculous that the Head of State is not elected by the people but obtains the position through an accident of birth. On top of this the Royal family are seen as being more superior than the rest of us mere mortals.
There is the argument that the Royal family no longer has any real power. Its function is more ceremonial and even acts to prevent any individual abusing their position.
This though is untrue. For starters the Queen can actually dissolve parliament and appoint the Government of their choice. In January 2013 the Guardian reported the extent of influence of being able to veto and consent to bills. The Queen completely vetoed in 1999 a private member’s ‘Military Actions against Iraq’ bill that sought to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the Monarchy to Parliament. In total the article specifically mentioned thirty-nine bills that needed Royal consent before it could be passed.
Prince Charles had met with Government Ministers thirty-six times to discuss various policies since the coalition Government was formed in 2010. In another report again in the Guardian, an article states that Prince Charles had been given the opportunity to veto at least twelve Government bills that may affect his interest.
The report is unable to confirm whether there have been any changes due to Royal influence but even if that is not the case it does not make it right. Any bills or laws should be debated and decided by the people which is through their elected official.
Nor should one person or family should have this type of power and influence who are not elected. After all a leader should be answerable to the people who they have chosen.
There is also the little matter of Royal Prerogative which means decisions can be taken without consulting Parliament which is now normally done through the Consultation of the Prime Minister. This is something that has caused controversy such as Edward Heath in 1972 bringing Britain into the EEC and consulting Parliament afterwards. Margaret Thatcher similarly used the Royal Prerogative to go to war in the Falklands in 1982.
Supporters of the Monarchy will state that these laws and privileges are never used by the Monarchy who are led by the elected Government of the day. This though shows that the Royal Family have used this power. Furthermore it is not a particular strong argument when there is always the chance it could be used.
Another argument by Monarchists is about tradition and that somehow they are part of our heritage which would be lost if we abolished the Royal family. Bear baiting, duelling with guns or swords also used to be a tradition but times do move on.
If you mention about the Royals being part of our history well other countries such as France, Russia, Germany, and Italy have managed to cope fine with having an elected head of state. History will always be there but like everything else you have to move forward and if you want a true democracy then it is the people who should be deciding its head of state.
The mention of the money that the Royal family bring through tourism always brings a wry smile to my face. It’s as though money should be a factor over democracy. Forget about British Citizens having a say in the running of their country or politicians being answerable to the people the Monarchy is the only thing that brings money in. If the Monarchy was abolished, tourists would still visit Britain. France attracts a lot of tourists as does the USA.
Sometimes the argument turns nasty when you point out how undemocratic and how much power the Royal family really have. Republicans are accused of being unpatriotic and tarred as being a bolshie militant who wants to turn the UK into the old Soviet Union.
Aside from the fact that I am wary of anyone who wraps themselves in a flag to try to prove a point, I always quote Johnny Rotten who said about the Sex Pistols track ‘God save the Queen,’ ‘You don’t write God save the Queen because you hate the English race, you write a song like that because you love them, and your fed up with them being mistreated.’
The Queen is the head of the establishment. It conveys a message that they are born to rule and we are there to serve. A system like this promotes inequality where certain aspirations are ‘not for the likes of us.’ It promotes a gulf between people simply because of class.
Looking at the set up of the Monarchy is quite ridiculous that Royalty are treated as something special and unique and that in someway they are some sort of divine being and have the right to rule.
I have not heard one argument from a Royalist that has made me think that they have a point. Yes, you can argue that the political system is flawed but it would be a start to abolish the Monarchy and to also get rid of the House Lords. In their place we should have an elected head of state and an elected second house. Only then can we can make a move in the right direction and be able to call Britain a true democracy. I for one I’m not happy to be a peasant and want Britain to be ruled by the people instead of an antiquated system of privilege.
I’ll end as they used to do in the olden days with the National anthem. Well the Sex Pistols version.