Republicans will always try their hardest to persuade us that Monarchy is harmful to the UK and that it does no good. Republic UK make a point of trying to ‘bust myths’ about the Monarchy which Monarchists use to argue in favour of it, so we thought we’d ‘return fire’ and bust the ‘myth busting’.
Is it though? Whilst the system of Absolute Monarchy is obviously undemocratic, Constitutional Monarchy actually compliments democracy.
The argument that Monarchy is undemocratic has been disproved many times, most notably in a recent survey of the ‘world’s most democratic countries’. This placed Norway, a country with a Monarchy, as the most democratic country in the world. Second was Sweden, also a country with a Monarchy and in fact of the top ten in that list, 7 are ones with Monarchies.
A Constitutional Monarchy can be vital to a country’s political system. Take a look at Belgium for example. Their former King, Albert II, famously worked to resolve a constitutional crisis in 2010-2011 when Belgium’s parliament was unable to agree on a government. When the crisis was resolved, Albert swore in the new government too.
Part of the system of how Monarchy works is through the Head of State being a fixed hereditary figure. Republicans would have you believe that this is entirely undemocratic and unfair.
They would say that people should be able to aspire to be leader of their own country… but they do. Frequently, you hear people aspiring to be the Prime Minister, because that’s where the real political power lies in a Constitutional Monarchy. The office of Monarch acts frequently as an arbitrator in Political matters, not as a leader of Government.
Having, as we do, a Monarch as Head of State, we prevent two things from happening. Firstly, having a fixed Head of State prevents any leader with ulterior motives from taking power and acts actually to keep the United Kingdom democratic. Secondly, keeping the office of Head of State apolitical means the King or Queen can take a neutral stance in any political conflict without being influenced by personal party preference.
Quite simply: yes it is. In fact, Monarchy is one of the cheapest types of Head of State. Below is a table comparing the British Monarchy with two other Heads of State who are not hereditary Monarchs.
A lot of presidencies don’t publish their travel costs, staff costs and sometimes President’s salary, so it was very difficult to get hold of other information to compare more presidencies. Conversely, The Queen’s expenses are always published in full every year along with other senior members of the Royal Family.
Each person in the United Kingdom pays just 58p (2012-2013) for the Monarchy – hardly ‘breaking the bank’.
This point is simply unarguable. Every poll taken by a reputable source will show that the Monarchy is more popular than the UK becoming a republic.
The most recent and reliable one from YouGov shows that 73% of people think Britain should continue to have a Monarchy and just 16% support having an elected head of state (11% unsure). There’s no hiding from the fact that Republicans in the UK are a minority – albeit a minority with a particularly loud voice sometimes.
And to say that no one is interested in the Monarchy is completely wrong. It was estimated shortly after its broadcast that the Royal Wedding was watched (at least partially) by a total global audience of 3.126 billion, or 45% of the world’s population.
Polls show that Queen Elizabeth II’s popularity is the highest in the Royal Family with around 90% of people approving of her.
Republicans argument, because of the popularity of The Queen, is to say that nobody supports Prince Charles becoming King and that the Monarchy should therefore end after Queen Elizabeth.
Again, this is not true. Polls in 2012 show that 61% of people think Prince Charles will do a good job once he becomes King, with 26% thinking he won’t.
Even those who aren’t fans of the Prince of Wales aren’t anti-Monarchist because many people support the Duke of Cambridge, in fact 83% of people think Prince William will do a good job as King and just 5% of people saying they don’t think he’ll do a good job.
photo credit: hmcotterill, UK Parliament via , theharv58, PhotoGraham & Defence Images via photopin cc
I support the monarchy, but point 3 is wrong.
The US President is the political leader as well as head of state,so it is a dual role. The equivalent would be the joint cost of PM and HMQ. also the US costs include security and HMQs does not.
the French President is closer to HMQ but again, that role is political and there is a PM as well ( off topic but are the French paying twice??).
the BRF are vfm but I think comparisons as in this report are a mistake. Or include security costs.
Otherwise, excellent article.
I concede on the point about the US presidency, though I believe the French President has a similar role to Her Majesty in as-much as their powers are similar. France’s Prime Minister has the Governmental power.
but the French President attends meetings such as the G8. i admit to not fully understanding how the French system works.
is there a figure for security forthe BRF or is it never published?
no that’s incorrect the president has real power in France including control over all the armed forces, suspensive veto and controls the appointment of prime minister. In fact the prime minister only really has power in France if there is cohabitation (i.e. the president and prime minister are of different parties)
In the US they have the Secretary of State, i.e. the equivalent of the PM
Yes and no. in the UK the prime Minister is a Cabinet Member and head of the Governemnt, in the US the Secretary of State is also a Cabinet Member but he or she is not head of the Government.
Well the Republicans in UK are welcome to come to the U.S. and see how great it is having a political Head of State. On a good day 50% of the people are disgruntled by the leadership and on a bad day even members of the party in-charge are disgruntled. I am very much in favor of Constitutional Monarchy.
I read that the Baby has already generated $40 million (US) in revenue for the London…and it’s not even born yet! xo Lulu
How can having a fixed leader stop ulterior motives? If anything it exacerbates existing ulterior motives as they are in place for life! Royals aren’t necessarily neutral e.g. George III or in fact Prince Charles and the black spider letters. Surely having an elected head of state is better on this front because it means we can vote out someone with ulterior motives rather than being stuck with them
It means there is a mechanism there to stop powers from taking over the system. I.e. The Queen can dismiss Prime Minister etc. should it need to happen.
But who can dismiss the Monarch if they get out of hand (as happened with George III)? In the German system for example the president has a largely ceremonial role similar to that of a monarch but elected and the chancellor has a similar role to that of Prime Minister. That system has been running for nigh on 70 years and no ‘powers have taken over the system’
Then a regent can be appointed – as with George III. – Regarding reference to German system, I don’t need to go into detail about what happened in the German system you’re talking about before 70 years ago, but suffice to say the British system has never suffered any kind of unwanted power take over because the Monarchy is in place and not just anyone can take power.
But George III’s regent was not appointed due to any democratic sensibilities and fear of him undermining the constitution it was done because he went bonkers at regular intervals. Are you really playing the Nazi card? British history hardly smells of roses in respect to Empire, and yes it has repeatedly since the dawn of time. The romans, the vikings, the normans, even the glorious revolution was an unruly power take over in favour of a protestant king rather than a catholic one. Any road, the German system today is very different from that in the 20s and early 30s, is much more stable and have no far right parties represented in any house of parliament, unlike the Dutch or Danish who both have monarchies and have had far-right parties in a ruling coalition in the last 20 years. What I’m saying is no system is perfect but if we can choose to change who governs us regularly then it safeguard us against tyrants and takes power away from those whose only qualification is who their dad was and back into the hands of hard working ordinary people who deserve to have a say in how they are ruled
I think it must be remembered that the Monarch does not govern. The monarch does not rule. They really have no political power and their role is symbolic and ceremonial. I would be much more worried about an elected politician abusing power. The way the monarchy is practiced today, if a monarch were to try and exersize political power it would not be seen as constitutional, it would not be tolerated and they would be gone and I think the monarch knows that.
they do have a large amount of potential political power, remember it is only through convention they are party political neutral but that hasn’t stopped prince Charles trying his hand at influencing politics, the monarch is naturally political in their role as head of the Church of England, a practise that should be stopped immediately! They may not govern or rule but neither must a president, one need only look to Germany for an example of a non ruling president, Switzerland has a non ruling president too (although that system is atypical across the entire world.) Just because a president is political it does not mean they will abuse power, especially if they are held by a written constitution and constitutional court. Even as their ceremonial and symbolic role they are damaging, they symbolise hereditary succession over hard work and aristocracy over plutocracy. I personally would like to live in country symbolised by a hard worker, someone who has not had a silver spoon in their mouth their entire life, someone like most of the British people. I’m not saying get rid of the parliamentary system and replace it with a presidential system, what I’m saying is get rid of a group of people whose only qualification is being born in the right place and at the right time and replace them with someone who has had to work hard to get there. You can keep the pomp and circumstance, you can even keep the coronation and title, but in this day and age we should be able to choose who we want to be represented by, its as simple as that
The hereditary aspect of monarchy is also part of its appeal. It gives a connection to the past , to history. It also points to the future. Also, the monarchy is represented by a family and as we today saw the birth of a future king, it is a family in which the entire nation can feel connected to and share in its joys as well as sorrows. That is something that can bring a country together much more than an elected family that is only there for a few years. Yes, these people are born to these roles but as you can see every member of the Royal Family is very hard working. From the queen on down they are all very hard working. Even with an elected Head of State you are still looking at people who, by and large are often born into wealthy families.
its not necessarily the case that they will be wealthy families, thats not a forgone conclusion, and even if they are they’ll probably be self made which is much better than being from some german family that happened to be protestant when all around were catholic. I would dispute the point that every member of the royal family is hard working, prince andrew made money from contraversial relationships, and prince edward dropped out of the royal marines after 4 months. The real hard workers are their staff, some of whom are on zero hour contracts, feudal employment laws for a feudal tradition. Every family has a connection to the past, but my family were mill workers not royals, that doesn’t make my past any less historical (just a bit less interesting :p ) we live in Britain we need no articifical connections to the past! you can walk in london and see ancient monuments, i live in birmingham and i can see our past and our history all around me with chamberlains buildings and warwick castle and baddisley clinton. We don’t need to cling to the past so verciforously because its all around us here! also it doesn’t point to the future it only looks back (i think we both know the whole pointing to the future thing is bull) @Amber-Lee, at least you have a vote, it may be one out of millions but its still a choice and your people as a whole are able to choose who they want, if thats lying politicians so be it, but you have the ability, in a written constitution, to vote for whoever you like so its up to you guys to get the good guys in and the bad ones out. I don’t want someone born and bred to lead to lead me. Its a dangerous thing for someone to know someday they will rule (just watch simba in the lion king :p ) i’d prefer someone that can relate to me, thats had to struggle by some days, thats gone hungry, thats been rejected for jobs and by universities, someone thats lived a little. The best leaders are those who can not just sympathise with their followers but can empathise because they’ve been there.
Guess what!? Most politicians and presidents can’t, wont and don’t care to relate to their own people. You are living in a fantasy world if you think that Presidents of the world are ordinary people. Let’s look at the 20th century for the track record for leaders of republics – Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Mobutu, Pinochet, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini etc. I’m sure you can relate to them!
I suppose it’s a case of what you know. I hate being American and our system. We feel like our votes don’t count and all the politicins lie. Give me someone who’s born and bred to lead over that any day.
Revolutions and abdications are what bring down a monarch when they get out of hand. George III had much more political power than Elizabeth II has. It was Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, that helped Victoria see that she needs to be above partisan politics and remain nuetral. Ever since then the monarch has done just that. The Prince of Wales can be outspoken but I am sure once he becomes king he will walk the path of nuetrality.
You’re right but there is no set mechanism for changing the monarch it takes considerably more effort to change a monarch than to vote out a president. Personally I’m not so sure, the lack of transparency is very worrying to me and with very little accountability who knows what might happen in the future
Keep in mind that a “Republican” in England is NOT the same as a “Republican” in America. It is two very different systems.
Excellent article! It’s true of the Commonwealth Realms, as well!
I have always felt that the Queen (or any Constitutional monarch) is more accountable to the public than any politician. More accountable to all rather than just a particular interest group!
the only reason the royals continue to flourish is through a) vicarious fairytale living and b) an extreme case of cognitive dissonance.
1.a) Still not elected, inheriting a public office which most importantly morally wrong.
How so? I do not see the imorality of inheritance. Could you please justify your statement?
As far as I am concerned, why bother to think that democracy is sacred to those who believe in the republican ideals when people will realize that republicanism could spell a real disaster to their societies and economies around the world?
I suggest that ideological activists and their motivated allies must feel very sorry for the shortcomings of democracy and republicanism that allow the kind of political correctness remain uncontrollable – it is a real disgrace to good, tried-and-tested traditional values and customs, traditional institutions, including the institution of monarchy, a more stable society, more durable economic principles, a more principled environmental protection consistent with sound science, and a lot more.
People like me need to take action on mainly marxist political correctness before republicanism rears its ugly head again, and ensure that the monarchy will remain alive and well to this day. – J.P.K.
the problem with a monarchy is that it creates and perpetuates the notion that some members of the society – by virtue of being royal – are superior in breeding to the so called commoner. One can see this sort of class prejudice in the UK routinely – even so called commoners will claim that so and so is better because they are the granddaughter of an Earl etc. This sort of elitism is very destructive in a society. Now the Royals themselves clearly do not appear to be elitists in this sense – it is the institution of the monarchy and the attendant nobility which perpetuates such elitism. The tabloid coverage of the younger royals especially trivializes the ancient meaning of the monarchy – turning it into a soap opera as if they were rock stars or such. Furthermore to say that the income brought in by the monarchy also justifies maintaining the institution further trivializes the monarchy – as if it were just a tourist attraction like Disneyland. It is also not helpful to have -mostly the younger royals – seen as being “imprisoned” by their status. If the monarchy is to survive it cannot survive as a tourist attraction or a tabloid soap opera. The ancient meaning of the monarch to the UK people is the only justification for the continuance of the monarchy – all these other extraneous things actually cheapen the meaning of the monarchy and endanger it’s long term viability. In times of such deep austerity it becomes especially important that the monarchy be seen as being on the side of the people and diminishing notions of elitism.
I would like a democratic system whereby I could decide whether that 58 pence of mine went to the monarchy or maybe, I don’t know, just maybe children that have suffered abuse? Or people that are suffering extreme hardship instead of living in complete luxury with every whim catered for? It must be difficult for the royal family during such hard times, but I’m sure they could all find a way to help the underprivileged if they could only see past their own traumatic lives whereby our beloved Queen has to live hand to mouth in the same manner as her ‘subjects’. The very fact that this parasite believes that she is our queen and ruler is the exact reason that this should not be the case. I hope that I have the honour of living long enough to witness the fall of the monarchy and I will happily torch her effigy in front of a baying crowd
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