Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Is it Time for an Elected Head of State?
Recently my son and I debated the utility of the monarchy. Unusually for a radical young man like him, he argued in favour of: the symbolism of the institution; the role it plays in giving us an identity grounded in our history; and the unsuitability of a putative elected retired politician as 'president'. All very Conservative sentiments, as I pointed out to him, but all worthy of debate too.
My feeling is that as long as a majority of us want to retain a monarchy then it should, naturally, continue. But should its usefulness be regularly judged negatively at sometime in the future, then I think it will be time to eschew atavistic sentimentality and embrace a new system unsullied by the associations of our generally undistinguished Royal Family. With the exception of the present Queen, who has fulfilled her duty with a devoted, though sometimes grim, sense of duty, the royals have been a pretty useless lot.
I have already posted recently on how 'Dickie' Mountbatten used his royal connections to command military and political positions damagingly way beyond his ability. My source for that post, Andrew Roberts', exceptional Churchillians, also details the die-hard appeasing sympathies of the royals not to mention their sometimes open flirtations with the enemy itself(see Chapter 1, The House of Windsor and the Politics of Appeasement).
The royals are determined defenders of the snobbish social order which is one of the most resistible things about our society; witness their absurd delight and determination in denying first the Duchess of Windsor and then Diana the initials, 'HRH'. They underpin an invidious social system based on the emblems of birth and privilege. Add to that the absurd insistence of Prince Charles that he be addressed as 'Sir' even by his friends at dinner parties. I would hate to be a 'subject' of a man like that- wouldn't you? I, for one, would be perfectly happy to allow an elected president to invite leader of the largest party after an election to form a government and to preside over sundry national days and events. Why-ever not?
If there was a referendum it would at least establish, after a period of focused deabte, what the will of the people is. Downside, a Royalist victory would have to be regarded as legitimising the Royalty and we'd be lumbered with Will of the People's Princess until past my dying day.
Twice a year I see the honours list and can't believe the sheer number of slightly different honours on offer, with the implication of slightly different levels of honour.
The top half of the civil service know the honour entitlement a particular grade gives them as well as any shop steward knows the exact workplace rules.
I would rather trust the luck of the draw(within what has been a fairly good gene pool), than the judgement of an increasing stupidified people, masquerading as an electorate but in fact showing all the characteristics of the proles they are.
Long live the Royals.
As for the Windsor family. A "fairly good gene pool"!! Dear God the whole family between them have a collective IQ lower than that of a wombat.
I imagine that could be one of the greatest Royalist arguments in the unlikely event that this proposal was ever considered seriously.
PS - hard luck Skipper, it would appear to be your tutn to babysit Micky Oakeshott.
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