I worry about the future of the monarchy
A real test is looming when the current reign comes to an end
Here in Deep England the village green and the pub over the road are resplendent with Union Jack bunting — a pattern repeated in many towns and villages hereabouts. We are girding our loins for the Jubilee fete on Sunday, with climatic contingencies covered by that most British of phrases, “in village hall if wet”.
All over the country street parties and other special events are taking place. On Thursday Central London saw a special Trooping the Colour ceremony, watched from that famous Buckingham Palace balcony by the Queen and most of the royals, minus the Californian branch of the family and difficult Uncle Andrew. For that splendid display the truly dedicated monarchists were setting up their tents for the best view as early as Monday and Tuesday. Even the French sent their best wishes, via their elected King Emanuel I.
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We have heard from a few self-consciously “edgy” dissenting voices. The campaign group Republic have been tweeting furiously about how monarchy is archaic, divisive, racist etc. and how instead of having a knees-up with your nearest and dearest you should spend Saturday listening to an annoying man from Twitter grumble about the Queen.
On the whole, however, the mood is celebratory. Public displays of patriotism are everywhere. The monarchy retains high levels of support, according to recent YouGov polling. 62% favoured our current system over a republic, with only 22% favouring the latter. Her Maj is overwhelmingly popular, as is Prince William. Wise dissidents in public life are reading the room and keeping their heads down. I strongly doubt that Keir Starmer, that archetypal member of the progressive establishment, would choose to attend Trooping The Colour for his own pleasure and edification. I would be surprised to hear of his proposing a loyal toast at his own dinner table. But he will go through the motions in the expected way for the great national beanfest.
But when the dust has settled, and the joy of this unique and wonderful occasion has passed, royalists might be forgiven for having a few qualms about the future. It would be melodramatic to say that the storm clouds are gathering; nevertheless, the world is changing. The new Australian Prime Minister is known to favour breaking the link with the British monarchy. Canada may follow suit.
As Britain becomes more diverse, more secular, more insistently egalitarian, and less connected to its own past, the very concept of hereditary Christian monarchy rooted in tradition and history becomes less intelligible. Support for the institution has fallen in recent years, especially among younger age groups. The magnificent coronation service, parts of which can be traced back to before the Norman Conquest, will surely seem mysterious and even troubling to many modern people. It is possible that the broad and deep popularity of Elizabeth II as an individual — rooted in her longevity and her role as the nation’s grandmother — may not translate, after she is gone, into enduring affection for the Crown as an institution, and all that it represents.
Possibly all that is too pessimistic. Perhaps there is nothing to worry about. After all, this Jubilee weekend is a huge opportunity for the reforging of national unity around a great historic occasion. Britons from all backgrounds and walks of life seem to be entering into the spirit of the thing. The naysayers are ignored and mocked. Nevertheless, it is hard to escape the impression that a real test is looming when the current reign comes to an end, when some very important decisions will be taken about what monarchy in the new Britain will look like.
The biggest worry is that without a monarch some damn fool would propose that we have a President.
To which many would reply “but look at the Irish President”. But though a success, the Irish President can’t connect people to their history.
“As Britain becomes more diverse, more secular, more insistently egalitarian, and less connected to its own past, the very concept of hereditary Christian monarchy rooted in tradition and history becomes less intelligible. ”
When I read that I thought: “Niall has stolen our word” since Australians think egalitarianism is the soul of their country (unlike everywhere else). It’s the argument most used against the monarchy. But despite the national myth, we’ve been heading away from egalitarianism as the rich get ever richer and the gap with the rest widens. Where are you when your national myth is so easily destroyed?
I think Australia will eventually become a republic – hopefully after I’m dead – because it seems a clear, straightforward path to the future for a very multicultural society. It’s only as you get older can you see that history has stitched together arrangements that work very well, and ditching them for something else is quite likely to be a step backwards. At the moment we in Australia have the best of both worlds: the Queen of Australia lives on the other side of the planet. We get visits now and then, a connection to our past, and that wonderful idea that the most powerful person in the nation’s government is, theoretically, the servant of someone else, who doesn’t exercise power. The PM is the servant of an idea that is greater than his/her ideas.
We kind of have a royal family, without having to be constantly reminded of them as characters (or how much they cost!) – we just have the essence of modern royalty, which is a compromise that works.
As to the cost, in 2018 (which was the last year I could find figures for) the Monarchy cost the UK £67M. The UK population that year was 66.46M. The cost to every man, woman and child was slightly under 2 pence per week.
But though a success, the Irish President can’t connect people to their history.
I think we here in Ireland could well do without the English monarchy’s connection with our history. Heaven help me for waxing woke but it set the pattern for colonial exploitation that made England’s name a word the world over.
Come on Mr Mullen, surely you can do better than that? Let’s hear it for ‘the Famine’ or the good old ‘Auxies and Black & Tans’.
Forty odd words of a rather passé anti-English diatribe and all you can say is Troll?
The English peasantry were exploited every bit as much as the Irish peasantry. And Irish leaders would have behaved no better towards your ancestors. Buy some history books – I can recommend some.
Woke is ignorance enhanced by personality disorder.
The English peasantry were exploited every bit as much as the Irish peasantry.
Buy some history books
Better still, read them.
Woke is ignorance enhanced by personality disorder.
Try Akenfield by Robert Blyth.
But I have read them. My ancestors were treated abominably.
Perhaps we could join forces, you and I, and together demand reparations from those who oppress us, in order to ease the pain and suffering of such historic injustice. Alternatively, we could just agree to behave like grown men.
Indeed, this, too, is my greatest fear. The thought of a politically partisan absolute presidency (which seems to be what happens all too often) is a horrible.
In addition to his relative unpopularity, compared with our current monarch, Charles is, arguably, already too politically partisan.
Brenda & Co have served us well these many years. Long may they continue.
Last night at the Jubilee concert we saw a determined attempt, through the speeches of Princes William and then Charles, to point the way towards the succession over the next two generations. William did his best to connect with the environmental lobby whilst Charles continues to act like an old man still in search of his mother’s breast. That’s the thing though – with a monarchy, you have to take the rough with the smooth, and any tinkering with the rules of succession just plays to the abolitionists.
I’m very much in favour of our system which provides for an elected executive which isn’t the highest level of authority. It provides a degree of flexibility which has stood (with plenty of ructions along the way) the test of time, measured in centuries rather than electoral comings and goings.
Another thing – after the eerie absence of human life from the streets of central London during at least the early stages of the pandemic, wasn’t it great to see our national landmarks teeming with joyous humanity again, and spending a fortune to do so to the benefit of the businesses and hotels in the capital. Plenty of tourists from oversees too, making the balance of costs of the monarchy to the public purse almost certainly a positive one. Nothing else would’ve brought so many to London in early June.
If Charles has got any sense (which i’m not sure about) he’ll provide a low-profile kingship which doesn’t attract any reason for republicanism. The essence of the way the monarchy has developed is to provide for constitutional neutrality. Any deviation from it would usher in its downfall.
I have no doubt that Charles’s nano-stint at Cambridge, plus his year as Master & Commander, will stand him in good stead.
I’ve never been an ardent monarchist but the more I witness how corrupt our politicians are, the more I want to retain the monarchy.
I do think that it’s a shame that Charles will soon be king. I’m not sure it will survive his tenure. Prince William would be a better King .
As for Republic, anytime I read a reference to ‘ racist’ I switch off .
The sudden removal of the Queen from Barbados by Prime Minister Mia Motley was a bit odd as it was done without consulting the people of Barbados.
Could it have anything to do with the fact the Chinese are investing heavily in the island and don’t want any outside influence that could possibly provide checks and balances?
I believe the issue of the Monarchy has been widely debated within Barbados and they have decided to move on. The absurd and outdated charade of William and Kate’s tour of the Caribbean must have persuaded many wavering Bajans that it is time to make the break.
I don’t think ordinary Bajans had much of a voice in it, itvwas nodded through on a vote in their parliament.
Unsolicited diversity in Britain is an issue for the Royal Family. Their support base is overwhelmingly white and they should be mindful of that when appearing to support “progressive” agendas.
The Queen has survived, firstly by being around the generation of my parents (I am 70 and there are rather a lot of us) and secondly by providing a link with the war-time generation; these are both wasting assets and for many people the monarchy is a form of soap-opera (when the Queen came to the throne the Royal Family’s private life was largely lived in the stately homes of the titled where discretion prevailed and “mum” was always the word; how we will get on with a Monarch who once wished he was a tampon is uncharted territory)
She has also survived by doing exactly what she is told to do by the Prime Minister of the day with the Privy Council used as a cloak to cover it (there are over 600 members of the PC but only 3 were required to advise her to prorogue parliament because Johnson couldn’t win a majority in the House of Commons, after removing the whip from a number of his Party’s MPs for failure of sycophancy. Should the PM (any PM indeed) turn up to the palace with three members of the PC and request the next election be postponed for 5 years she will sign it.
We need new arrangements
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