Saturday, 20 November 2010
Do we need a Monarchy?
Yes, I’m talking about the Royals - an increasingly endangered species living in a luxurious, media infested, cage. Kate Middleton, the future HRH Princess William of Wales has just said goodbye to freedom and all the things we ordinary mortals take for granted - she can no longer pop out to the Co-op for a loaf of bread, drop into Harvey Nicks for a latte and she will have to drive around with an armed member of the secret service in the passenger seat of her car. Kate will also have to put up with tabloid newspapers criticising her hair, her choice of clothes, her relatives and the amount of money she and her husband spend. Even her wedding isn't really her own to plan. And the image of the groom's mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash while being pursued by photographers, will cast a big shadow over what should be a very happy, personal event.
Personally I think the caged Royals should be released into the wild. They have personal fortunes large enough to ensure their survival and they could lead normal celebrity lives, have normal opinions and make normal mistakes without the general public getting on their tabloid horses and complaining that the Royals should live on some unrealistically high moral planet because they are paying for it.
There is no logical place in a modern democracy for any kind of hereditary power. Make no mistake - the Queen still possesses a lot of constitutional powers - the fact that she doesn’t make much use of them is not the point. A lot of her powers are exercised by the government of the day without reference to parliament in a very undemocratic way. When I hear that legislation has been passed ‘By Order in Council’ (the Queen’s privy council) it sends a chill down my spine. The Queen has wisely chosen not to meddle personally in politics, but her successor might make a different decision and there is nothing in the constitution to stop them. The consequences could be disastrous. Look at it this way, with a President you can vote a new one in every few years - with a monarch you might have to wait 50.
When I was in New Zealand, the Prime Minister stated that when the Queen died, NZ would become a republic. He thought the Queen was quite a nice person, but didn’t like ‘the rude old Duke’ or the prospect of Prince Charles, who was always making gaffes . Australia has also indicated it wants to go the same way.
One of the main arguments for monarchy in this country is that it brings in loads of money for tourism, but not having a royal family hasn’t stopped countries such as Russia or France making a mint out of their empty palaces and royal art collections. Wouldn’t people pay more to see around Buck House if they could see all of it?
I’ve nothing against the Royals at all - I just want them to be happy and I think they’d be a lot happier let loose in Celebrity Land. The queen could spend time with her horses - the real love of her life - the Duke could be rude to whoever he wanted to without causing a political storm - Charles could spout his mouth off about architecture and eco systems and no one would make any kind of fuss. They could all spend millions on booze and betting (as the Queen Mother apparently did) and it wouldn’t be anyone else’s business.
And, best of all, two young people could get married just as they want to and have a life of their own without us peering at them through the cage bars. Does anyone out there agree with me?