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[P]
50 years ago today

By loaf in Op-Ed
Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:37:01 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Fifty years ago, the world was different, the majority of K5ers weren't here (indeed, many parents of K5ers might not have been either) and King George VI of the UK and all its dominions, protectorates and assorted other bit of empire-related ephemera died. His daughter, the then Princess Elizabeth, while on a visit to Kenya, acceded to the throne. A seat she has now occupied for half a century.

The UK press is growing increasingly full of articles marking the Golden Jubilee (which offical date will be 2 June, the anniversary of the coronation).

But while the world loves the Queen, what should happen when she pops her clogs? What place does a hereditary monarchy have in the 21st century?


It's often said that if the UK decided to reform and vote itself a president as Head of State, we would probably vote in Elizabeth Windsor.

Barring official visits, general elections and occasional illness, she's had a briefing from the Prime Minister of the day every week for the last fifty years. Her knowledge and counsel will be second to none and, the majority agree, while her role is pretty toothless, she does it well.

With her mother still just about clinging on to this mortal coil, she might still have another 20-30 years to go, but what happens to the monarchy on her demise? Does Prince Charles engender such feelings of trust and good will? Could we really see his son William (even with the good sense to stand up Britney) on the throne in 50 years?

With the current government sweeping away much of the hereditary power of the House of Lords (our upper house) as well as allowing for the possibility of elections to that chamber, the winds of change are blowing ... but is that freshness or just change for its own sake?

The House of Lords should be about being a counter-balance to the whims of the government of the day, so increasing its meritocratic composition should be encouraged. The monarchy, though, is a different matter.

The Prime Minister is not the head of state, indeed, they are appointed by the sovereign. All laws must be signed by the sovereign - but in the last 170 years there's been little threat to say that they'll never not be. So what is the Queen if not just a tourist figurehead, the symbol of our role as Theme Park UK.

The US constitution separates the three parts of government: the executive, the judiciary, the senate. In the UK there's no such clean division; there is no explicit executive, the house of commons is elected (and includes the Attorney-General), the house of lords appointed (and includes by default all the senior judges) and the monarchy is hereditary.

The monarchy after our current Queen is not long for this world. Charles' stock has risen since his ex-wife's death, but there are too many for whom the Queen is acceptable, but her son will not be. Whatever the successor system, there will not be concensus, but we need to start planning for it now.

There is another answer. Pop Idol. A week by week audition of likely hopefuls, being whittled down by expert panellists employed for their rapier wit and ability to make 80s pap music. Government by the MTV generation; you've got to be able to look good on camera, react with dignity to the brickbats and to have the stamina to win out from your contempories.

One day all countries will be governed like this.

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50 years ago today | 49 comments (45 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Been there, done that (3.33 / 3) (#2)
by mjs on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 07:36:42 AM EST

One day all countries will be governed like this.

Over here on the other side of the pond we tried that not too long ago. You may remember Ronald Reagan, former film star, former President of the United States, et. al. Most of us rather liked him, at least enough to elect him to the office twice by wide majorities. Of course, he was in his dottage: we seem to prefer our heads of state to be either unsavory or unhinged, but pay that no mind that's just us.

Brittney for queen? Hmm, have to think about it. Would she wear see-through tops for this gig, too? I'd fear someone like Christopher Walken, though: he creeps me out. :)

mjs

Mad captain, able crew (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by Torgos Pizza on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 11:58:46 AM EST

I think that's because we know that the people that the President surrounds himself with are so able, that we tolerate such foolish behavior. The current Bush administration has some of the most intelligent, experienced people in it that it could run without the President. Since the Carter administration, each President has assembled a great cabinet to work with.

Double that on Christopher Walken. (shudder) I remember Jay Mohr doing a skit on SNL where he did Walken selling Skittles. Funny, but strangely creepy at the same time.

I intend to live forever, or die trying.
[ Parent ]

The Monarchy must die (2.53 / 15) (#3)
by bc on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 08:00:52 AM EST

The United Kingdom can't hope to sort its problems out till it annihilates the old establishment completely and utterly, and sweeps these parasites out.

The Monarchy is just the tip of the iceberg. The whole house of cards must be shaken and turned up. It's a sad state when even an off the shelf UN written constitution would be better than the shambles we have now.

There is no need to plan for a successor. The Monarchy could have been gotten rid of by a labour government with the guts at the time of Diana's death - but they showed they are but reactionaries at core.

Death to the Monarchy!

♥, bc.

Monarchy is irrelevant (4.28 / 7) (#5)
by FredBloggs on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 08:22:56 AM EST

Denmark has the oldest monarchy in the world, and they dont seem to be having too many problems.

"The Monarchy could have been gotten rid of by a labour government with the guts at the time of Diana's death - but they showed they are but reactionaries at core."

I cant think of a worse time for a government to have attempted to abolish the monarchy! For those of you not present here at the time, Diana`s death invoked a sort of mass hysteria with otherwise sensible people showing strong emotional responses to the death of someone they`d never even met.


[ Parent ]
Reply (3.12 / 8) (#6)
by bc on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 08:32:09 AM EST

I cant think of a worse time for a government to have attempted to abolish the monarchy! For those of you not present here at the time, Diana`s death invoked a sort of mass hysteria with otherwise sensible people showing strong emotional responses to the death of someone they`d never even met.

It would have been easy. At the time there was a huge upsurge in dislike for the Monarch, as people milled around Buckingham palace where the flag flew proudly, not even at half mast, because the Queen was at Balmoral. This was turned into a huge national story, and the seeming coldness of the Monarchy turned many people against them. The government could simply have declined to comment when asked if it would support the royal family, and it would have been curtains for them.

As for the Monarchy being irrelevant, well, the flag example shows that symbols are important. The Monarchy is nothing if not symbolic - but what is it symbolic of? An old, outdated, Imperial Britain of no relevance to the people of today. Nonetheless, this is important, and this disjointed, schizophrenic identity of England needs resolution, and the sooner the better.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Not quite the oldest (4.00 / 3) (#10)
by brotherhayashi on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 09:45:47 AM EST

While Denmark may have the oldest monarchy in Europe, Japan has the oldest monarchy in the world.



[ Parent ]
Monarchies (4.00 / 4) (#14)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:04:20 PM EST

Japan's monarchy is older than Denmark's by a large margin. (Though I suppose that proves your point.)
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Principle at atake. (3.33 / 9) (#16)
by Tezcatlipoca on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:27:16 PM EST

The abhorrent fact that somebody is born in a certain family and for just that reason has the *right* to influence the daily life of its subjects (even if this is all only ceremonial) is the most basic negation of democracy and equality.

I should be evident by now that these people, that more often than not are not more than parasitic figureheads, are not better or worst than anybody else, and thus the idea that they reign over other fellow human beens completely horrorizes me.

What is worst is to see how many people in so many democratic countries don't seem able to grasp this basic idea excusing themselves with how well all seems to work. Wait that one of these countries gets somebody that decides to use his powers that are not ceremonial and then we will see...




---
"At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look;
at forty-five they are caves in which we hide." F. Scott Fitzgerald.
[ Parent ]
Um, yeah. (4.71 / 7) (#21)
by Stickerboy on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:56:04 PM EST

The whole reason that Queen Elizabeth has never not signed a law that was passed by Parliament is that, in exercising her technical rights to take action (and not be a mere figurehead), dislike for the ceremonial monarchy would increase immensely, which would probably cause the removal of the monarchy as an institution altogether in Britain.

My point is, the power of the monarchy in Britain has already devolved to the people, and successive Queens and Kings in the UK have realized this. There's no point in debating a hypothetical abusive monarch, because the first one that came along would merely serve to get the monarchy abolished by the people of the UK.

The royal family in the UK doesn't "reign" over anybody. The people of the UK generally agree (as a whole, anyways) that the Queen serves a useful purpose as moral and emotional leadership, and a connection to tradition and history. They therefore allow the monarchy to continue existing. The will of the people rules the monarchy, not the other way around.

[ Parent ]
UK people are subjects not citizens. (4.28 / 7) (#24)
by Tezcatlipoca on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 01:10:54 PM EST

It is just enough to see that people that are not willing to swear allegiance (sp?) to the Queen (not the country, a constitution, the state, democracy, the people or whatever. The Queen) like elected Sin Feinn MPs (dislikeable certainly, but democraticaly elected nevertheless) can not take a set in the UK Parliment.

In the UK Republicanism, a perfectly legitimate political aspiration, and the complete unwilligness to swear allegiance to a monarch, overrides any democratic credentials one could have.

There you have it, monarchy undermining democracy in this day and age.

On top of that, I think we should know by now that self regulation and self restrain are the worst tools to ensure clear-cut situations.

There is absolutley nothing to stop a monarch to try to excercise his or her constitutional powers.

Why would a democratic country want to be at risk of this if all could be easily avoidable by electing somebody with genuine popular support earned by means of political? Why some countries are not brave and decide that is better to have a head of state that earned his postion than to have archaic costumes remanent of the dark ages?
---
"At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look;
at forty-five they are caves in which we hide." F. Scott Fitzgerald.
[ Parent ]
Re: Monarchy (4.66 / 3) (#25)
by wierdo on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 01:34:24 PM EST

Why would a democratic country want to be at risk of this if all could be easily avoidable by electing somebody with genuine popular support earned by means of political? Why some countries are not brave and decide that is better to have a head of state that earned his postion than to have archaic costumes remanent of the dark ages?

Because "the People" are fickle, stupid, and quite unwise on the whole. They allow their emotions to govern them, and therefore let politicians trample all over them. Theoretically, the monarch would not allow the people to harm themselves in such a manner, as they do on a daily basis here in the US. The older I get, the more I realize that people in general aren't wise enough to govern themselves. Perhaps it was different in the 18th century.

-Nathan



[ Parent ]
Conflict between elected leaders (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by driptray on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 12:06:36 AM EST

Why would a democratic country want to be at risk of this if all could be easily avoidable by electing somebody with genuine popular support earned by means of political?

Because that country already has a democratically elected leader - the Prime Minister. Having two democratically elected leaders, with no real constitutional demarcation over their respective powers, would lead to a terrible constitutional crisis.

That crisis is currently averted due to the fact that the monarch has no democratic legitimacy, and therefore feels constrained in actually exercising her powers. It's a social convention, but a powerful one.

Of course it's messy and undemocratic, but it cannot be fixed by simply electing the "monarch". A wholesale constitutional change must also take place in order to spell out the powers each of the democratically elected leaders would have, and ensure that conflict between them would be minimised.

In the case of England they'd first have to write a constitution. In the case of Australia, they'd have to codify the so-called "reserve powers" of the Governer-General. Some serious constitutional scholars have suggested that it is impossible by definition to spell out these powers, as they are designed for "exceptional circumstances", and "exceptions" can never be defined in advance.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Just born of a family... (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by phliar on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 11:22:32 PM EST

The abhorrent fact that somebody is born in a certain family and for just that reason has the *right* to influence the daily life of its subjects
Wait, I thought we were talking about the UK, not about Dubya!


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Or... (none / 0) (#45)
by Stickerboy on Fri Feb 08, 2002 at 09:51:47 AM EST

...about the Kennedys or Rockefellers or any else of the mid- to upper-upper class - the true social elite.

With or without formal titles, who you're born to matters just as much here in the US as in the UK. That's how it is everywhere, not just in Britain.



[ Parent ]
Monarchy and Freedom of Speech (3.85 / 7) (#7)
by Ranieri on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 08:43:35 AM EST

Death to the Monarchy!

Over here a statement like this would net you a neat file in an internal security service cabinet, or even a Lee Malatesta-like visit. They keep track of all the anti-monarchists and anarchists, it's the main part of their job description.

Welcome to Holland, land of tollerance.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

Are you sure? (2.33 / 3) (#15)
by Tezcatlipoca on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:18:53 PM EST

Death to the monarchy is clearly an allusion to an idea, a political idea.

I can't believe that any democratic country that is still in the sorry state of having a monarch, would consider an statement like this a threateaning statement, even in the paranoid times we live now.



---
"At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look;
at forty-five they are caves in which we hide." F. Scott Fitzgerald.
[ Parent ]
Having a monarch isn't always a bad thing. (4.40 / 5) (#20)
by aphrael on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:53:18 PM EST

Two examples spring to mind:
  • When the socialists won their first election in Spain, it was King Juan Carlos who argued the army down from its intention of overthrowing the politicians and installing a military dictator.
  • In Belgium, the King is often the key mediator in political squabbles between the dutch-speaking flemish and the french-speaking walloons.


[ Parent ]
There are many examples of good monarchs. (2.00 / 1) (#41)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 04:53:53 AM EST

The Royal family in Thailand, for example, has been at odds sometimes against military rulers in the country even hiding students during demonstrations against military rulers.

The point I am trying to make is that these people are not better than you or I, had not been a King Juan Carlos surely there would have been another figure that would have led oposition against the handful of rebels that were dreaming of a fascist dream.

Russia had Boris Yeltsin in its time of need, Checkslovakia (sp?) had Vaclav Havel, Poland had Lech Walesa. No need of Kings or Queens, that by their mere holding such position challenge the principle of equality in a democratic society, we need only ordinary commited people that want to improve their society without honoring "blood lines" that have their origin in shoddy dealings and back-stabbing (many times in a literal sense) back in the middle ages.

Compare Nelson Mandela to King Juan Carlos and one can see there are degrees of "goodness" appreciable (no wonder that Queen Elizabeth, which by most accounts one can judge as a good monarch, was overshadowed by the stature of Mr Mandela during his visit to London. Even a pasionate monarchist society could recognize were true greatness lies).
---
"At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look;
at forty-five they are caves in which we hide." F. Scott Fitzgerald.
[ Parent ]
Ahhhh ... (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by aphrael on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 05:31:18 PM EST

but the point is, there are instances when the position of monarch, in and of itself, creates power which can be used for good; eg., in the Juan Carlos case, what is demonstrated is both that Juan Carlos is a good guy and that the institutional power of a monarch, in Spanish society, is a useful and important power.

Which isn't to say that it's everywhere a good idea, of course. It depends on the culture and the society.

[ Parent ]

Pop idol? (3.00 / 6) (#4)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 08:10:56 AM EST

Isn't that sort of the way William and Mary ended up on the throne? Parliament went looking for someone who would take up space, and not get in the way. There's a College of William and Mary here in Virginia, not far from Williamsburg.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
Oddly ... (3.75 / 4) (#18)
by aphrael on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:51:12 PM EST

the dutch perspective on it is quite different; to them, it represents the pinnacle of their power --- they conquered England! :)

(No, i'm not making this up)



[ Parent ]
Do they know about (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 01:56:17 PM EST

his association with the Troubles in Ireland? William of Orange, after whom the Orangemen are named, IIRC.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
*blink* (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by aphrael on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 07:33:44 PM EST

wow. i don't think i'd ever made that connection before. thank you! :)

[ Parent ]
Troubles (none / 0) (#40)
by Curieus on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 04:38:50 AM EST

With some it is known that there are links between those 'orangemen' and Willem III.
It is quite ironicthat Willem I, (the guy during the 80 years war) was a proponent of an neutrally religious country, combining both protestants and catholics.
This trait has been shown by several of his successors, for example, Frederik Hendrik, (a protestant of course) shocked the establishment when he kissed the ring of the bishop of Den Bosch.

Given this background i think that much of the problems also can be found in the religious climate as was found in england at the time. If the gentry (high/low) and locals are very polarised, then any situation will be polarised independent of the inclinations of the monarch.

Willem III may well have been polarised too, considering the fact that his wife was bound to be opinionated.

But for purposes of dutch history, what his religious stance in enqland was irrelevant, so his irish and english wars are unknown here.

[ Parent ]
One day all countries will be governed like this. (3.37 / 8) (#9)
by jabber on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 09:21:03 AM EST

There is another answer. Pop Idol. A week by week audition of likely hopefuls, being whittled down by expert panellists employed for their rapier wit and ability to make 80s pap music. Government by the MTV generation; you've got to be able to look good on camera, react with dignity to the brickbats and to have the stamina to win out from your contempories.

That is SO not true.. Case in point, the last USian election. Al Gore had it all over GW Bush with respect to looks, poise, grace under fire, wit (and how!).. He also had the stamina, all the way to the Supreme Court (Regan and Bush appointees, the lot, no?). Ultimatelly, he did lose.. Not for lack of personal attributes but simply because the MTV generation is nowhere near as well organized as the Old Boys Club that in actuallity runs the country.

The Good Old Boys grip on the national consciousness had slipped under the charisma and audacity of Clinton.. They could not unseat him for being a crook or a philanderer.. This is a fair reflection of the values of the population, I suppose.

And so, having put a puppet in the Office, the national consciousness needed to be polarized, to once again see the "Illuminati"-like handlers of society in afavorable light. You all know what happened to bring that about.

In any case, THAT is what all governments will be like.. An invisible hand holding power with a steel grip, behind a fuzzy cloud of feigned Democracy.. Incognito Totalitarianism with an impotent figurehead and plenty of people talking about how things need to change.

Keep Charles around and don't lie to yourselves about the alternative being any better. At least you'll be fully cognizant that you're saluting a gelding.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

God... (4.33 / 3) (#13)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 11:59:20 AM EST

Al Gore had it all over GW Bush with respect to looks, poise, grace under fire, wit (and how!)..
This statement is completely true, which given how utterly uncharismatic Gore was is incredibly depressing.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Dammit man (2.71 / 7) (#17)
by trhurler on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:51:06 PM EST

"accede" does not mean what you think it does.

Further, the whole point of a monarchy is that the opinion of the people regarding the present monarch is quite irrelevant. If in fact this is not the case in the UK, then you do not have a monarchy, but rather simply pretend to have one.

Finally, thanks for writing a story that has brought out all the nutcases in the US. Whenever you see the word "Illuminati" used seriously, you know you've aroused the moron crew. Thank you SO very much.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Off Topic (2.12 / 8) (#19)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 12:51:29 PM EST

But while the world loves the Queen, what should happen when she pops her clogs?

I had a (British) professor in school, who assigned a British<->American translator. His example British sentence was "Lawks a lawdy, Lord love a duck! My moggie has popped it's clogs!" The translation was "Oh my, good gracious! My cat has died."
___
Length 17, Width 3
Elizabeth is More than the Head of State (3.50 / 8) (#22)
by AzTex on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 01:01:44 PM EST

Isn't the English monarch also the head of the Church of England?  If you were to get rid of the monarchy in favor of an elected president, then would you also elect the Anglican Pope?  Funny.



solipsism: I'm always here. But you sometimes go away.
** AzTex **

Turkey dealt with this problem in the 20s (4.50 / 4) (#23)
by aphrael on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 01:07:38 PM EST

The Sultan of Rum, as he was called by the Turks, was also Caliph (think 'emperor' and 'pope'; they aren't the same but it's an ok rough equivalence for this conversation). When the Sultanate was abolished in the crises that ensued after the end of the first world war, the position of Caliph and Sultan were first seperated by legislation; only after that happened was the Sultanate abolished. Some time after that the Caliphate was, as well.

[ Parent ]
Amusing, but (4.00 / 3) (#26)
by plunkymeadows on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 01:37:36 PM EST

you do raise a good point. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that there is a separation between church and state. England's constitution is also not a clearly laid-out document, but a collection of documents. Therefore, there is no quick-fix solution like getting rid of the monarchy in favor of an elected president.
The entire government would have to be restructured with a new constitution, elections, and dissolution of much of the church's power.
Would the people be ready for this? Would it take a not-so-peaceful revolution?
And finally, where would Ireland fit in?
"Dad, I dont think I'm gonna do it Hamster Style anymore."
[ Parent ]
The real problem (3.33 / 3) (#28)
by gloin on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 03:07:04 PM EST

The real problem here is that the decline of the monarchy mirrors a decline in British culture, and a decline in the values that made Britain great. Could you imagine the British of today keeping a stiff upper lip, and doing their duty, regardless of the cost? Or would they rather whine about the troubles of their life, and give in to evil?

The values that imbued the Empire with her sense of greatness are abandoned, and Britain will wither and decline. Of course Britain should abolish the monarchy; its people are no longer deserving of it.

Great? (5.00 / 2) (#32)
by Paul Johnson on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 05:58:46 PM EST

Could you imagine the British of today keeping a stiff upper lip, and doing their duty, regardless of the cost?

Yes. I could. Indeed I seem to recall a few years ago seeing a lot of road protestors doing exactly that. More recently our armed forces have been doing their duty in a lot of the worlds trouble spots. The Americans seem to bear a lot of the expense of armed conflict these days, but when it comes time to go and put people in weapons range of the unfriendlies it seems to be the UK leading by example.

What has changed is not preparadness to do one's "duty" but the perception of what that duty is. Fifty years ago it was simple (God, King and Country, in that order). Today society is much more diverse, and richer for it. But with that diversity comes a diversity of opinions about what should happen and how to bring it about.

Or have I just been trolled?

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

No the real problem.... (none / 0) (#48)
by morkeleb on Sun Feb 10, 2002 at 10:37:37 PM EST

Is that they had one bad apple in the bunch - King George. He lost the colonies! Imagine where the British would be right now if they had made peace with their cousins in the west and held onto the New World.


"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
[ Parent ]
is this our destiny? [OT a bit] (4.33 / 3) (#29)
by knightbg on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 04:36:49 PM EST

think about it... only about 100 years ago, probably much less actually, no one would have even half-seriously spoken about breaking up the british monarchy. it would just have been inconceivable. it forces me to wonder if there will come a point when US style representative-democracy is considered a relic of the past and a tourist attraction...

Actually (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 05:38:58 PM EST

...a good many people spoke about such things pretty seriously. G B Shaw comes to mind, and of course The Communist Manifesto was already some 55 years old by 1902. Your great-grandfather was probably less quaint than you realize. :)

[ Parent ]
Not true (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by driptray on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 12:20:07 AM EST

It's simply not true that the trajectory of royal popularity has always been downwards. From my studies (over 10 years ago now) I remember that for much of its life, the British monarchy has been either unpopular, or not widely cared for. The high point in popularity was certainly around the middle of the 20th century, where they were much more popular than at any time in the 19th.

Historically speaking, we are in a time of very high royal popularity.

As for the monarchy being considered a "relic of the past", the idea of the monarchy as "steeped in the the traditions of the past" is itself a very modern invention, as are the so-called "traditions". (By "modern" I mean the late 19th and 20th centuries.)


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Off with their heads (2.00 / 6) (#30)
by smallstepforman on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 05:06:24 PM EST

All royals should be be-headed. Without a moment of hesitation. If they had any sense, the microsecond they assume power they should abolish a monarchy and return all possessions (land and wealth) to the people IMMEDIATELY, drop to their knees and beg for forgiveness.

It sickens me to see normal people attending "royal" functions, cheering and banner waving, when 200 years ago their ancestors probably were tortured, molested, imprisoned or beheaded because they opposed the monarchy. Their land was confiscated and given to the royal family (various monarchies all over the world). Today their descendands celebrate when seeing a royal (and buy a crap-load of supermarket magazines). It makes me sick.

Comes the tumbril! (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by phliar on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 11:15:23 PM EST

All royals should be be-headed. ... return all possessions (land and wealth) to the people IMMEDIATELY, drop to their knees and beg for forgiveness.
Amen, Comrade!

However, it's their country, they can do what they want with it. I wish that in this country [USA] we'd content opurselves with harmless flag-waving and cheering of monarchs instead of the rampant militaristic clap-trap and hysteria. This is the country where just four months ago, 49% of the people polled said they'd support legislation requiring all persons of Arab descent -- including citizens of the US -- to carry a special ID card at all times. In the middle-east, Palestinians and Israelis are still killing each others' children. Elections are still being rigged and Houses of Parliament are still being bombed.

Let's take care of those issues before worrying too much about the Windsors of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

(Besides, fifty years ago, Elizabeth II was rather foxy!)


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

By your logic... (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by dadragon on Fri Feb 08, 2002 at 01:59:01 PM EST

The government of the USA should get down on its knees and beg the world for forgiveness. Especially: Arabia, for their modern totalitarian monarchy propping, Black people in the USA for their slavery, Canadians for their sins against United Empire Loyalists who moved there.

Me, because my ancestors were UELs who moved to Canada after the American Revolution.

It sickens me to see normal people attending "royal" functions, cheering and banner waving, when 200 years ago their ancestors probably were tortured, molested, imprisoned or beheaded because they opposed the monarchy. Their land was confiscated and given to the royal family (various monarchies all over the world). Today their descendands celebrate when seeing a royal (and buy a crap-load of supermarket magazines). It makes me sick.

It sickens me to see otherwise normal people attending State functions of the USA, cheering and banner waving, when 200 years ago their ancestors were tortured, molested, imprisoned and beheaded for opposing the new republic. Their land was conficated and given to followers of the new republic, (various white protestants in the USA). Today their descendants celebrate when seeing a President. It makes me sick.

Stupid people, talking out of their ass. Most people don't seem to realise that both the pot and the kettle are black.

[ Parent ]
The Crown can turn a profit anyway. (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by Apuleius on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 10:38:12 PM EST

The house of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha can make good enough use of its possessions to cease any need of British taxpayer money. So, barring a tax hit, who cares? If some people want to admire royals and get all teary at the Queen Mum's birthday, and so on and so forth, it's no skin off my back. Compared to slavish admiration of members of the entertainer class, royal worship is downright benign.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Being a Commonwealth citizen ... (1.00 / 1) (#42)
by ragnarok on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 06:06:10 AM EST

and brought up in Australia, I was always cynical about the Royal Family. So British, so un-Australian, let alone un-X, or un-Y or un-Z. But as to the question:

What place does a hereditary monarchy have in the 21st century?

I'm sorry, I can't help you. In certain parts of the world you have hereditary monarchy as a matter of course, and I'm sure the Jordanians, the Saudis and a few others would be very interested in getting the answer to that question as well, with differing expectations according to location. While in the Grand Ol' U dot S dot A dot com, you have the beginnings of the end of the republic - in spite of constitutional provisions dictating there is to be no taint of blood for anything, the Americans have incriminated the Bush family twice, as being too incompetent to hold down real jobs, and expect them to put on the figurehead show for the world. Kind of like the show in Syria, where the current President was unanimously elected upon the death of his father.

(Just slightly Off-Topic - the constipational situation in the UK and the Commonwealth Settler States, is aptly dissected in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the Galactic Emperor is nearly dead, and has been so for many, many centuries. Little wonder the Aussies can't see much point to Their Royal Pains-In-The-Butt.)


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies

What I don't understand (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by Lord INSERT NAME HERE on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 06:21:17 AM EST

Is why we need a "head of state" at all. Why not simply declare the parliament to collectively be the head of state, in some abstract sense?

Then any law passed enters the statute books without needing to be signed by any one person... that's almost what happens right now anyway, we'd just be automating the "Queen-signs-the-bill" part.

And if there is some good reason that I've not thought of, why not make the Speaker of the Commons the head of state? In the UK, the speaker is largely a non-party-political position.


--
Comics are good. Read mine. That's an order.
What about the House of Lords (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by mickwd on Fri Feb 08, 2002 at 07:25:41 PM EST

I'm surprised so little mention has been made of the House of Lords (for non-UK readers, this is our (currently) unelected second chamber). It is in the process of being reformed by the current Labour government, but current proposals are that ONLY 20% of the members of the new house should be elected. I'm not certain of the details, but I think the plan is to have another 20% selected by an independent commission, but have 60% appointed by the political parties.

For all its faults (such as containing many non-elected peers of the realm) the House of Lords did act independently of the House of Commons, often sending government bills back for amendment (although the government could then force them back through the House of Lords if needed).

They may not have been democratic, but they actually served a useful function as one "check and balance" on the government in power (and not just against the Labour party - they also frequently challenged recent Conservative governments).

But how independent will a second house be where 60% of its members are directly appointed by the political parties ?

The "20% elected" proposal is still being debated (it is proving somewhat controversial), but this is an issue which is actively taking place, and will actively affect the way we are governed in the near future.

So why has this important and relevant issue been so overlooked in a debate about the largely-symbolic power of the monarchy ?

monarchy not strictly speaking hereditary (none / 0) (#49)
by blacksqr on Tue Feb 12, 2002 at 07:26:56 PM EST

Although the English monarchy is hereditary by tradition, in fact in the early 1700's the Parliament gave itself the right to appoint the monarch by vote of its members, without regard to any other criterion.

The first Windsor king was appointed in just this way, he was a distant German relative of the royal family, all of whom at the time were distasteful options. The new king agreed to take the job and spend most of his time at home in Germany (in order to reduce political tensions), and thus appointed the first Prime Minister to run things day-to-day.

The Parliament today could do something similar if the members wished; it could bypass Charles and go right to William, they could tap Tony Blair once he retired from active politics, or give Geri Halliwell a promotion from UN Representative.

50 years ago today | 49 comments (45 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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