Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Monday, 9 October 2006

Monarchy is democratic, just not elected

The idea that some people have that monarchy is undemocratic and is based solely on hereditary principles conveniently ignores the three-hundred year old supremacy of Parliament on both those scores. Absolute hereditary power based on devine theory first died with Magna Carta way back in 1215, and although it experienced a later resurgence, particularly with the Stuart kings, who sought to re-establish the doctrine by importing it from Scotland during the 17th century, the beheading of Charles I by the Rump Parliament in 1649; the parliamentary coup d’etat that forcibly deposed James II in 1688; the English Bill of Rights the year after; and the Act of Settlement governing succession law since 1701; British sovereigns have served at the pleasure of the people more than themselves, a fact that was most recently reinforced in practice by all Westminster parliaments during the abdication crisis of Edward VIII in 1936.

Yes yes, the Queen is not elected, but technically neither is anyone else under our model of government. It is not a contradiction of principle to understand that virtually no position of authority is directly elected in the British parliamentary system of democracy. The queen's representatives certainly are not, nor are her advisors in the Privy Council; our judges are not elected, not the officers of parliament, not the house speakers, nor even the cabinet and the prime minister who heads it. We do not vote for ministers of the crown; we do not choose which members will be assigned the tasks of government. The prime minister is not a president - we do not directly elect him or her into office; rather, he owes his position to the confidence of Cabinet, of the House of Commons and of the Queen-in-Parliament. All we elect are MPs, that body of men and women whose collective wisdom and judgment it is to determine all of the above on our behalf.

And yes, that even goes for the Queen herself. Her Majesty’s accession to the throne may have been automatic, but only because of an Act of Parliament that permitted it, and subsequently only because she was democratically confirmed on other legislative occasions, such as when Canada passed the Constitution Act, 1982, recognizing her as sovereign, or when Australia held a referendum in 1999, in which the people overwhelmingly endorsed her in a national plebiscite. The old dictum that “the Queen reigns but doesn’t rule” is technically incorrect – the Queen reigns and rules, but only with the advice and consent of Parliament.