By Andrew Roberts
The Queen's ministers interfere with the constitutional monarchy at their peril, as the Solicitor General, Vera Baird, has discovered to her cost.
Only last week she was opining that "what we have to do with the Royal Family is to integrate them as far as possible into the human race". Her intention was to achieve this by repealing the primogeniture sections of the 1701 Act of Settlement, which she called "unfair" and "a load of rubbish".
She wanted to include the Royal Family in the provisions of her new Single Equality Bill, which would coalesce all existing legislation regarding discrimination by sex, age, race, sexual orientation, disability and religion.
While our front-page poll indicates that Daily Telegraph readers agree with Mrs Baird, Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, doesn't and has slapped her down. She has ruled that there will be no reform to the monarchy in the equality legislation.
Quite right too. The very concept of a monarchy is so ancient, so unlike any other institution in public life, and so inherently, wonderfully illogical that as soon as one attempts to apply today's standards to it - especially modern human-rights legislation - one undermines its strongest reason for existence.
It is precisely because it is so magnificently atavistic, archaic and irrational - so unlike anything else in society - that it exercises such power over the human imagination, connecting us directly to our Saxon past.
To apply the values of Matrix Chambers to a concept that dates back almost to the Dark Ages is, in Walter Bagehot's phrase, to "let daylight in upon magic".
One might as well try to apply heath and safety legislation to the Coronation, where a monarch has to wear the 39oz Imperial State Crown - with four rubies, 11 emeralds, 16 sapphires, 277 pearls and 2,783 diamonds - for hours on end. Or the Working Time Directive to the Queen, who is 82 and yet still carried out 440 official engagements on our behalf last year.
Will Mrs Baird be sitting in Westminster Abbey with her decibel meter in order to check that the singing of Zadok the Priest does not exceed Westminster City Council guidelines at the Coronation? And how does the assertion that the monarch - who is clearly just another public servant in her eyes - rules "by the grace of Almighty God" square with the Trade Descriptions Act?
The monarchy isn't some local council job you can apply for through the appointments section of your newspaper; it is different and ought to be treated as such...
You can read the rest here. As our Swift last year wrote, equality be damned.
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Tuesday, 29 April 2008
By Andrew Roberts