This year being the tenth anniversary of Enoch Powell's passing and the fortieth of his Rivers of Blood speech, my next post will be a more fulsome tribute in honour of the Right Honourable Enoch Powell, M.B.E.
The incredibly prophetic Enoch Powell, the man who predicted the Second World War a decade before its unfolding; the staunch monetarist who preceded Milton Friedman's infamy when everyone was piling on the Keynesian bandwagon; his early warning that the EEC, though merely an economic gathering at the time, would spell the end of Britain's sovereignty; and, of course, his accurate foretelling of the consequences of mass immigration to the fabric of civil society - history indeed looms large under the deductive reasoning of Enoch Powell. Unfortunately for monarchists, the doom of the crown itself is waiting to be added to this list. In the long run, good as dead. (Though we shall fight on the beaches...)
Powell basically predicted this on 3 March 1953, when he spoke against the Royal Titles Bill in the House of Commons, in a speech that for the rest of his life he regarded as his finest ever. The High Tory, ardent constitutionalist and One Kingdom conservative said he found three major changes to the royal style profoundly repugnant:
Royal Title, 1948–1953: By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Defender of the Faith
Royal Title, 1953– : By the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith
1. Divisibility of the Crown: The first one was "that in this title, for the first time, will be recognised a principle hitherto never admitted in this country, namely, the divisibility of the crown". Powell said that the unity of the realm had evolved over centuries and included the British Empire: "It was a unit because it had one Sovereign. There was one Sovereign: one realm". He feared that by "recognising the division of the realm into separate realms, are we not opening the way for that other remaining unity – the last unity of all – that of the person, to go the way of the rest?"
2. Suppression of the word 'British': The second change he objected to was "the suppression of the word 'British', both from before the words 'Realms and Territories' where it is replaced by the words 'her other' and from before the word 'Commonwealth', which, in the Statute of Westminster, is described as the 'British Commonwealth of Nations'":
To say that he is Monarch of a certain territory and his other realms and territories is as good as to say that he is king of his kingdom. We have perpetrated a solecism in the title we are proposing to attach to our Sovereign and we have done so out of what might almost be called an abject desire to eliminate the expression 'British'. The same desire has been felt... to eliminate this word before the term 'Commonwealth'.... Why is it, then, that we are so anxious, in the description of our own Monarch, in a title for use in this country, to eliminate any reference to the seat, the focus and the origin of this vast aggregate of territories? Why is it that this 'teeming womb of royal Kings', as Shakespeare called it, wishes now to be anonymous?3. The Loss of Our Common Patrimony: Powell went on to claim the answer was that because the British Nationality Act 1948 had removed allegiance to the crown as the basis of citizenship and replaced that with nine separate citizenships combined together by statute. Therefore if any of these nine countries became republics nothing in law would change, as happened with India when it became a republic. Furthermore, Powell went on, the essence of unity was "that all the parts recognise they would sacrifice themselves to the interests of the whole". He denied that there was in India that "recognition of belonging to a greater whole which involves the ultimate consequence in certain circumstances of self-sacrifice in the interests of the whole". Therefore the title 'Head of the Commonwealth', the third major change, was "essentially a sham. They are essentially something which we have invented to blind ourselves to the reality of the position".
"... if they are changes which were demanded by those who in many wars had fought with this country, by nations who maintained an allegiance to the Crown, and who signified a desire to be in the future as were in the past; if it were our friends who had come to us and said: 'We want this,' I would say: 'Let it go. Let us admit the divisibility of the Crown. Let us sink into anonymity and cancel the word 'British' from our titles. If they like the conundrum 'Head of the Commonwealth' in the Royal style, let it be there'. However, the underlying evil of this is that we are doing it for the sake not of our friends but of those who are not our friends. We are doing this for the sake of those to whom the very names 'Britain' and 'British' are repugnant.... We are doing this for the sake of those who have deliberately cast off their allegiance to our common MonarchySo dear reader, if you are wondering when "British" ceased to be regarded as the common patrimony of the whole Commonwealth, I would say you should go back to when it entered the consciousness of the first man who understood it and argued passionately against it. Of course these changes were the result of the Commonwealth Conference of 1949, which arrived at the formula to provide that India, while removing itself from the sovereignty of the King, should remain in the Commonwealth, referred only to "the King", with no indication of what he was King of. And surely the quite contrary to law, by which the Queen was proclaimed in Britain in 1952, followed by Australia and New Zealand: that is, "Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories", with no mention of what "this Realm" was! It goes to show that where there is no unity, there can only be neutrality, anonymity and eventually, indifference.
During the twilight of our unity under the Crown, when Princess Elizabeth, on her visit to Canada in 1951, declared that she felt herself "among fellow countrymen", she did not mean that she was Canadian, but that we were British. Enoch Powell's belief was that the moment we stopped being British, our personal and national allegiance essentially became a sham. Sadly, I'd say that is exactly what it has become.