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, 24 September 2007

"Terminological Inexactitude"

Once upon a time when politicians revelled in the English tradition of parliamentary debate, when levity and humour and a vigour of expression were mastered to a high art form, it was a mark of pride among Members of Parliament to be able to insult their opponents in the House of Commons without use of unparliamentary language. Churchill was a notable master at this game, but by no means the most creative in dodging profanity and tackling the dishonesty and conduct of "honourable members". To declare that this art form has now passed us by would be an understatement - one need only follow our sad decline by comparing what was ruled unparliamentary in its heyday ("parliamentary pugilist", 1875; "inspired by forty-rod whiskey", 1886; "a dim-witted saboteur", 1956) with the outright vulgarities of today ("sleaze bag", 1984; "racist", 1986; "scuzzball", 1988; "you fat little, chubby little...sucker", 1997). Oh, how our once mighty civilization has fallen. (Source: see Wikipedia - unparliamentary language)

I bring this up because I am in need of an euphemism to fight republican sophistry, and to counter frequent claims that Her Majesty is a "foreigner" and an "offshore Queen". To be charitable, they have fallen prey to what Churchill called "terminological inexactitude", which is a nice way of meaning liar without actually saying it. I would gladly deplore their assertions until blue in the face, were it not for the equally deplorable terminological inexactitudes of my fellow loyalists. Indeed, nothing reeks of wishful desperation quite like the Canadian monarchist. Unlike his Australian counterpart, who appears to be much more at ease with Her Majesty's Britishness, he will stop at nothing to turn the Queen into a bona fide homegrown Canuck, ready to counter any misconception that she is a foreign monarch, even if it means inventing such hollow fabrications as the "Canadian Royal Family". They've successfully polluted Wikipedia with this fiction in all the right spots; but a misinformed public will not be fooled. The public instinctively knows who the Queen is, and what she represents; they certainly know members of the Royal Family are British. So please, it's time to dispense with the wool, gents.

As the world well and truly knows, the Queen of Canada is British. Not in the sense of being a British citizen, which she is not, since Her Majesty predates such republican inspired nostrums as citizenship, and is indeed not entitled to some of the rights of citizens, such as voting. But she and her family are British because they are lifelong inhabitants of that nation, and not of anywhere else. It's more than meaningless to state that the Royals are "non-resident Canadians", because it does absolutely nothing to counter the inexact claim that she is a foreign Queen. The only way to put this term of abuse to bed, technically speaking, would be to concoct a monumental insult to Her Majesty's position: grant honourary citizenship in the same way as was done for Nelson Mandela. In other words, turn monarchy on its head and engage in the handiwork of "a dim-witted saboteur".

Postscript: What is so foreign about 16 Anglo nations sharing an Anglo Queen?


Brian said...

It is on this point BB, where we beg to differ. Her Majesty is a Canadian, not in the Citizenship sense as such, but in the fact that Her Majesty Makes up what Canada is. Her Majesty imo is part in parcel of Canada, thus she is Canadian via default.

The unfortunate problem of your argument, is that it helps the republicans I believe

Beaverbrook said...

Her Majesty has not moved; she has been who she is all along, which is British. It is us who have moved away from this Britishness, and in the process becoming more estranged from the British Monarch. It is understandable the desire to be creative and make this estrangement less so by nationalizing the monarchy to greatest extent possible, but at the end of the day these are merely modern inventions. The Queen in right of Canada is a necessary legal distinction, but that doesn't mean we should get silly and downplay the reality that we are in "personal union" with the British Monarch. Especially when it is this shared association that is its most glorious aspect.

James said...

I don't believe anyone has ever tried to deny that the Queen, and her family are British. How could they? However, I see a bit of sophistry in the attempt to argue that she is *not* Canadian. As Brian rightly points out, if Her Majesty is the personal embodiment of the Canadian state - if she herself is Canada - then she must be as Canadian as she is British. She equally must be as Jamaican as she is Canadian. To argue she is more British than any other nationality because she lives in the UK is, to me, not much different than the republican arguing she is a foreigner because she lives in the UK.

Though I'm a strong monarchist, I sometimes sense that there is a desire amongst certain participants here to undo what our previous Commonwealth prime ministers and Colonial Office occupants did some 76 years ago - namely raise the Crown to become an institution that stands above and beyond even the United Kingdom, to become an umbrella that covers all its countries equally. There can be no equality in turning back the clock to make the UK numero uno over its Dominions.

The Queen may live in the UK, but that does not mean she is any longer the Queen of the UK reigning over other states. When each country has become a full, free-standing kingdom in its own right; and the crowns of those kingdoms are united in one in equality - by Her Majesty's laws, no less; then it strikes me as a "terminological inexactitude" to state that Elizabeth II remains nothing more than a Brit.

James said...

I should add, furthermore, that it was Her Majesty herself who openly spoke of the Canadian Royal Family. Surely, Beaverbrook, you aren't accusing her of sophistry...?

Beaverbrook said...

Needless to say, I don't agree with every word Her Majesty has ever said throughout her long reign. Things do unfortunately get slipped in there from time to time, though I never knew "Canadian Royal Family" was one of them.

That's my beef: unlike this site, they don't promote it as a shared institution, which is why the incessant need to "Canadianize" it all the time. Well, there's only so far you can go with that, and I think we've reached the limit. I may be a traditional monarchist who doesn't get all squeamish over the word "British", who insists there is nothing wrong or foreign with the word British, or "British Crown Commonwealth", but it most certainly doesn't mean seeing the "UK numero uno over its Dominions", because the UK has nothing to do with it. Besides, I think the word "Dominion" has passed us by and fallen out of use. Canada is an independent Realm now. Not even I would refer to it as a Dominion today.

Beaverbrook said...

That being said, you gents may be right that I overplayed my hand: the Queen is indeed the personification and embodiment of the state, so yes the Queen is wholly Canadian from that perspective, as defined in the Constitution, and yes the Maple Crown is equal with the British Crown. But from a shared perspective, I don't see anything wrong with referring to the British Crown as Primus Inter Parus, especially given that the official website of the Queen is called "The British Monarchy". Others will say that is a UK website, but I'm afraid none other exists.

Lewis said...

I've always found this argument fascinating. As Brian notes, the reason the MLC / MLNZ / ACM make this argument is essentially to neuter republican sentiment for a resident head of state, and to deny the British (and hence 'foreign') aspect of the monarchy.

IMHO Beaverbrook is right on this one - the Queen IS British, moreover the best argument for retaining the monarchy in the Commonwealth realms is that they are all ethnically linked - i.e. Anglo-Saxon. That is not something the self-appointed supporters of the monarchy really want to say, however.

Beaverbrook said...

I don't think I really need your help on this one, Lewis, but thanks for offering. If we are all "ethnically linked" as you say, then I suppose we would remain so whether we had a shared monarch or separate presidents, so your reasoning that ethnicity is the best argument for retaining the monarchy is rather not well thought out.

It would be much more persuasive to say that there is an undeniable British institutional heritage - both political and military - that naturally link the Commonwealth realms together, and that that is the best argument for retaining the Crown.

BTW, have you shut off the comments at your site?

Lewis said...

No, I don't think so. New Zealand has fairly strong links to South Africa even though that country isn't very "Anglo-Saxon" in an ethnic sense, neither are the former British colonies in the Pacific Islands, with whom we have strong links. The main reason is that we play the same sports, speak the same languages and have a heritage as British colonies. That does not mean we need the British monarchy to keep such things - hence my reasoning that ethnicity seems to matter more. I'm not implying racism here, simply stating what I see as the underlying truth of the attraction of being British.

PS - No. Refresh your browser, you have to allow the Haloscan component to load (I don't like Bloogers comment system - Haloscan has more cool features).

Lewis said...

Opps, that should be "Blogger" not Blooger... although sometimes I think thats what it should be called.

JJ said...

Lewis' thesis can also be proven by the fact that nations without an Anglo-Saxon majority, ie; the former dominions of India, Pakistan, and British Africa, were the most eager to abolish "their" monarchies upon independence.

Lewis said...

...and the African countries that weren't were under white-minority rule - e.g. Rhodesia and South Africa.

Beaverbrook said...

There is a common ethnocultural strand that runs through CANZUK (Can-Aus-NZ-UK), that there can be no doubt - I just don't buy that as being the "best argument" for keeping the monarchy today. Historically it is true that the settler nations felt a greater bond towards the "mother country", which partly explains why we kept it and the more indigenous countries didn't, but ethnicity does not explain why the Anglophone Carribean and 12 of the 16 Commonwealth realms have stayed with it all these years later, however. Obviously they were and are motivated by something different.

In any event, CANZUK has long since morphed into Anglo-multiculturalism, so ethnicity as a reason can no longer be relevant in holding on to the monarchy into the future. We shall see within our lifetimes, but I know oodles of people of non-British stock who do support the monarchy and oodles of so-called Britishers who don't. So I would be wary in believing that monarchy is somehow written in our DNA.

JJ said...

But you're somewhat inconsistent in arguing that, my Lord.
Is promoting the monarchy's Britishness a good thing, or a bad thing? If you accept that Canada is a multicultural nation, isn't it counter-productive to focus on the British cultural pride aspect of the crown, since that only serves to alienate?

Beaverbrook said...

It depends on your perspective. Generally speaking, I think the fact that we have a non-resident Queen is by far the worst argument for keeping the monarchy, not the best argument. It's unfortunate that the Queen can only live in one of her 16 realms, and so if I was a republican I would focus on that part of it. Monarchists will counter that it is the shared aspect that makes it great, and they are right, but you can't disguise this lack of a permanent national presence, which is by far the biggest downside.

It will no doubt be counterproductive to promote the Englishness of our monarchy if we all have irreversibly become dreaded multiculturalists. It's unfortunate that this ideology has pervaded our societies to the extent that it has, so no I can't except that we are a multicultural nation. I'm here to fight it, and to say that the English-speaking nations have a common culture worth defending, which is worthy of our pride and patriotism. The Queen is symbolically the head of this great culture, which is why I support it. Why it is that every nation on this Earth is entitled to its own culture, and the English-speaking nations not, is simply beyond me. Why more Anglos are not consciously proud of their heritage is one of the great questions of our time.