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Ellie2 02-27-2005 03:10 AM

The Mechanics of Abdication and of Succession to the Throne
 
I've been a member of this forum for a long time and I know for the obvious reason members of this site are naturally monarchists. Yet have we had a serious debate about the position or concept of a monarchy in the 21st century? The whole Camilla/Charles news has revived allot of question directed at monarchists that have been left unanswered.



For example, in Britain we live in a society where our government feel it is their moral duty to export democracy and liberty. Tony Blair said it is important that the people of Iraq have a direct choice over who governs them, but he failed to state that in Britain we do not have a constitution, which protects our liberty, and we failed to practise democracy in the selection of our head of state (the queen).



We have a system whereby we have a monarch that has little power to govern them or us for that matter. Let me clarify prince William cannot marry a catholic girl because of an outdated law which breaches the Geneva Convention on Human Rights. Prince Charles and any other heir to the throne cannot marry without the consent of the reigning monarch; this too is in violation of the Geneva Convention. Some of you might argue that the queen had given her consent therefore the argument is void, but the fact that the law remains active is pathetic, we have a situation whereby to adults (50 something’s) need the permission to wed, this is unrealistic.



The Charles/Camilla scenario has uncovered our lack of power, are we British Citizens or are we subjects? We are supposedly citizens (Primarily because they are a reigning monarchy as apposed to a ruling monarchy ala Jordan or Saudi Arabia) yet our only freedom of expression in our potential queen/consulate is via television and newspaper opinion polls and not a referendum. Some of you prince William fans might remember a funny E4 show called A Wife for William; the presenter of the show began each episode with the same line “you pay for her so you choose her”, now some might think that was a silly thing to say after all its his private life, we say it is his private life but it is exactly that life that we are financing, and not just financing for a duration of a 4/5-year term like a presidents, but for his entire life, whereas the justice in that? Some of you might also argue that a monarchy costs less than maintain a president, but at least a president is ultimately ruled by the will of the people.



There are so many contradiction in the concept of liberty and monarchy, we have over the years attempted to ratify the situation by extracting the monarchy of their power of rule, yet what we are left with is an empty symbolic and nostalgic concept void of logic and full of paradoxes.



What do you think?

Australian 02-27-2005 03:41 AM

I absolutely agree with you, Ellie. You said it all very well. It is pathetic that 50 year olds need permission to marry. The laws need to be updated to suit the present time. Royalty is a very backward concept.

I am interested in royalty though because of the history. Not because i am a monarchist. Prince Charles is coming to Australia, invited himself and us tax payers have to foot the bill ($1 million) for a few days orwhatever! how can one spend so much just for a little holiday? We have to pay $1 million when he has a Billion dollar bank account!

Oh well, i mean no disrespect to royalty, i am fasinated with them but only as a royal watcher.

aj00192557 08-17-2005 08:45 PM

Yes, the Queen is your head of state. but your government is independent from the control of the queen. the queen doesn't control it. so the queen is more like a national symbol.

Elspeth 08-17-2005 10:18 PM

I do agree there are some laws that could do with updating, like the one banning a person in the line of succession from marrying a Catholic and the one requiring permission from the sovereign for anyone in the line of succession to marry, which, IIRC, was only made into law because of the antics of some of the Hanoverian princes.

However, I think the system of a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch has a lot of advantages, particularly in light of recent history. The idea of having elected politicians in government works a lot better when there's an effective opposition to act as a counterweight of sorts than when there's no opposition. In Parliament, and in the US Congress and Senate, there are representatives of all the major parties and the one in power can't just do exactly as it pleases in all things because there'll eventually be some significant opposition if the party in power tries to abuse its majority position. Even the Prime Minister is only there as long as his party is the one with the largest number of elected representatives.

On the other hand, the Head of State is a one-of position, with no opposition and usually with advisors who are appointed rather than elected. In the whole of the US Executive Branch, there are two elected officials, who are elected together as a package deal, since the Vice President is on the President's ticket and doesn't run independently. All the major cabinet posts are filled by appointees whose primary recommendation for the position appears to be loyalty to the President, whereas in a parliamentary system they're filled by elected MPs. I don't think the notion of an elected politician in a role like that is an altogether healthy one because he isn't in a position where people can easily say "no" to him, and he can always say that since he was elected, he has a mandate to do any number of things that are damaging in the medium and long term, when he won't be around to have to deal with the fallout.

The other thing I think is dangerous about that sort of setup is the way the Head of State position can be manipulated by the incumbent to equate patriotism with support of his political party. I've been seeing a lot of cases on discussion boards where Democrats and other liberals are actually being called traitors simply for disagreeing with the President and/or supporting the other party. It's very easy for the Head of State to wrap himself in the flag and announce that in these uncertain times people should rally to him and support the country, when what he really means is that people who disagree with his party's position on things should shut up. That isn't how democracies are supposed to work.

If a Prime Minister started trying to give the impression of being the focus and embodiment of the nation, people would either ridicule him for having delusions of grandeur or be downright disgusted at the attempt to twist the system to his own advantage. In a constitutional democracy it's clear that the Prime Minister is the head of the government and a senior party politician, and is going to act as such, and the monarch is Head of State and has the long-term good of the country at heart, not the short- and medium-term goal of reelection.

I really think the criticism of constitutional monarchies for having an unelected Head of State is misplaced; IMO it's a strength of the system, not a weakness.

Tzu An 08-17-2005 11:14 PM

The reason Monarchy is being questioned is because the young royals are beginning to live like regular rich kids. They want to marry whom they please and then behave like regular people, without the stresses that normal people have to deal with. Then the normal people who marry into royal families are more interested in fashion shows and living the rich lifestyle while not performing too many duties (at times Mary for ex.) and wanting to raise their kids "normally" which means many hands on time, but that will result in neglecting their duties which taxpayers finance them to perform.


I think that is what triggered the French revolution. Rather than socialize with the courtiers (who could have helped her in her time of need) and stand on ceremony she preferred to keep herself among a small group of people and tried to give her kids a "normal life". The French paid for a Dauphine (French Crown Princess) and Queen, not a regular rich housewife. Same thing with taxpayers these days. Monarchies that survive are the ones that do their duty and live up to what is expected. "To whom much is given, much is expected" is a quote I heard somewhere and it sums up everything that can be surmised perfectly.

tiaraprin 08-18-2005 02:24 AM

The other thing I think is dangerous about that sort of setup is the way the Head of State position can be manipulated by the incumbent to equate patriotism with support of his political party. I've been seeing a lot of cases on discussion boards where Democrats and other liberals are actually being called traitors simply for disagreeing with the President and/or supporting the other party. It's very easy for the Head of State to wrap himself in the flag and announce that in these uncertain times people should rally to him and support the country, when what he really means is that people who disagree with his party's position on things should shut up. That isn't how democracies are supposed to work. (quote)

Thank you for that eloquent written expression!! I am not a traitor, I love my country!!

Warren 08-18-2005 03:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ellie2
iI Britain we do not have a constitution, which protects our liberty, and we failed to practise democracy in the selection of our head of state (The Queen).
Prince William cannot marry a Catholic because of an outdated law which breaches the Geneva Convention on Human Rights. Prince Charles and any other heir to the throne cannot marry without the consent of the reigning monarch; this too is in violation of the Geneva Convention.

Reduce it to its basics: the current Monarch has her right to the Throne via the Act of Settlement, ie an Act of the British Parliament. Marriage rules are based on this Act together with the Royal Marriages Act, also an Act of Parliament. The constitution is unwritten but is based on precedent and the rule of law. The Sovereign only acts on the advice of his or her Prime Minister.

Ulimately it is the Parliament of the United Kingdom which has the power over the succession and Royal marriages. And as the elected Parliament represents the ultimate will of the people through free and fair elections, one could argue that the current system is entirely democratic. Which is why it is termed a Constitutional Monarchy.
.
.

Idriel 08-18-2005 08:10 AM

The concept of a monarchy... is a good one!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ellie2
The whole Camilla/Charles news has revived allot of question directed at monarchists that have been left unanswered.

Well I had also asked one question to republican that has been left unanswered: What improvement do you expect exactly from a Republic? Do you expect more freedom? More prestige? A sudden leap into the 'Modern World' (whatever that means)? I really don't get that republican optimism, could you please answer that?
Quote:

Tony Blair said it is important that the people of Iraq have a direct choice over who governs them, but he failed to state that in Britain we do not have a constitution, which protects our liberty.
But you have a constitution. The UK is a Constitutional Monarchy so obviously you have a constitution. The fact that it is unwritten does not mean it does not exist. I think Warren told it is made of precedent and common law, and also several texts like the Act of Settlement or texts written by constitutional experts. As for your liberties, you're being unjust IMO. With the Habeas Corpus, the UK has been a precursor in human right. And you invented (I think you were the one, correct me if I'm wrong) the constitutional monarchy, which was genius. Your country has been clearly a model in term of political liberty and stability and human rights, I think. Much more than we (French) ever did with our Revolution.
Quote:

Let me clarify prince William cannot marry a catholic girl because of an outdated law which breaches the Geneva Convention on Human Rights.
That's a very interesting point you make here. Because, as many constitutional experts underlined, it was that very convention that made it possible for Charles to marry Camz. Maybe, if William were to fall in love and wanted to marry a catholic, he could successfully appeal to that very law too. But anyway I agree the discriminatory law is appalling.
Quote:

The Charles/Camilla scenario has uncovered our lack of power, are we British Citizens or are we subjects? We are supposedly citizens (Primarily because they are a reigning monarchy as apposed to a ruling monarchy ala Jordan or Saudi Arabia) yet our only freedom of expression in our potential queen/consulate is via television and newspaper opinion polls and not a referendum.
Well it is also the case with the present government. Republics don't have the habit to call a referendum every two months. When was the last referendum in the UK? I don't know the answer but I don't think it happens very often. As a matter of fact, polls are today the major political indicator (it's true everywhere in Europe).
Quote:

Some of you might also argue that a monarchy costs less than maintain a president, but at least a president is ultimately ruled by the will of the people.
Well I think this is one of the biggest republican illusion. Electing a president don't guarantee that it will follow the people's will. First of all, there's nothing like a people's will. People think differently and there will always have a large part of the population which is not happy with the government. Secondly, politicians, when they access the power, universally become aloof and ore concern with interest 'biggest' than the people's interest. Aznar, Blair and Berlusconi, all elected leaders, did not listen to the people's voice (or at least the majority of people) when they decided to go on war. And you will agree that going on war is the biggest and most critical decision a government could make. Well, they did not bother consulting the people on that matter, did they? I am not saying that it is always a bad thing, like for example when Mitterrand decided to axe the death penalty in France when most people were opposed to it; I'm just saying that it's not because you elect your head of state that he/she will listen to you.
Quote:

There are so many contradiction in the concept of liberty and monarchy, we have over the years attempted to ratify the situation by extracting the monarchy of their power of rule, yet what we are left with is an empty symbolic and nostalgic concept void of logic and full of paradoxe
Half of Europe is a Monarchy, and among them those who are praised as the most liberal states in the world. I don't see any contradiction.
As for being a empty symbol, that's a case of personal sensibility. I know monarchy is still a powerful symbol for a lot of your fellows Britons :) .

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tzu An
The reason Monarchy is being questioned is because the young royals are beginning to live like regular rich kids. They want to marry whom they please and then behave like regular people, without the stresses that normal people have to deal with.

Totally agree with you. I think this careless attitude is the biggest danger for monarchies. the 'bad' marriages issue is one of the reason I support the fact that Princes must have the authorisation of the monarch to marry (but nowadays they can't really object). I think if it had been only up to her, E II would have never let Charles marry Camz for example.
Quote:

I think that is what triggered the French revolution. Rather than socialize with the courtiers (who could have helped her in her time of need) and stand on ceremony she preferred to keep herself among a small group of people and tried to give her kids a "normal life". The French paid for a Dauphine (French Crown Princess) and Queen, not a regular rich housewife.
I can assure you that this is not the case at all :) .
The French revolution was triggered by a bunch of intellectual bourgeois, not by the people. As a matter of fact, Louis XVI was a hugely popular king (even though he was silly as a sheep). I would make a parallel with the people who masterminded the french revolution and the Bolshevik: a minority of revolutionary minds, anti-religious, ambitious, gifted for manipulation and taking advantage of any tension (in the French case, a food penury in Paris) and ready to use any form of violence to obtain what they want. But, and it has to be said one for all, the revolution was not wanted by the people (the 'working class') and they did not gain anything out of it anyway.

PS: I apologize if any part (or all) of my post seems aggressive or arrogant. It is not m intention to be so, and I'm always happy to be corrected if I'm wrong and to hear other opinions :) .

branchg 08-18-2005 08:55 AM

There are pros and cons to every system of government, but the fact is the constitutional monarchy has worked in the UK for hundreds of years. I agree there are many traditions and laws which need to be updated, but there is a strength in not having a written constitution and ruling by precedents and laws passed by Parliament.

Here in the U.S. the presidency is an imperial one and has been since World War I. The immense power of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and his ability to set the foreign policy agenda has skewed the Constitutional checks and balances intended by the Founding Fathers of the Republic. So, it's not necessarily the best thing for everyone.

Frothy 08-18-2005 09:16 AM

I would like to see limited reform along the lines of Sweden, ending male primogeniture and granting succession by birth order alone. That said, the British monarchy is hugely popular in the UK. There is no need for a referendum when 80% + of the public support the monarchy. You could almost see the BBC groaning when the public showed its outpouring of love at the Golden Jubilee.

The monarch has no true powers and that is well and good. I much prefer an apolitical and traditional head of state.

ysbel 08-18-2005 09:49 AM

I think the taxpayer argument is overused and irrelevant a lot of times. Taxpayers pay for a lot of waste in government, you just don't see all of it. People usually pull out the 'we're paying for it' argument when they find something they don't like but don't have any other way to criticize it.

Its also partially inaccurate for the British monarchy in particular. The financial arrangements between the government and the House of Windsor are complex and go way back.

When George III was afflicted with porphyra, his family was concerned he would waste the great fortune that the Crown enjoyed at that time. They made a deal with the government that he would turn over his assets to the government in return for a royal allowance. The idea was in theory similar to giving someone power of attorney today when a person is mentally incapacitated (Alzheimers, etc.) The government received a large unexpected windfall as a result.

But financial recordkeeping being what it was at that time, no one really kept track of how the annual amount given to the royal family in the Civil List related to the original assets that the Royal Family turned over. So, in short, over 200 years later, its impossible to say whether the British taxpayers are footing the bill for the royal family or whether they still owe the Queen money.

Its a mess and I bet the Queen wishes her ancestors had kept watch a little better.

Tzu An 08-18-2005 11:05 AM

Quote:

The French revolution was triggered by a bunch of intellectual bourgeois, not by the people. As a matter of fact, Louis XVI was a hugely popular king (even though he was silly as a sheep). I would make a parallel with the people who masterminded the french revolution and the Bolshevik: a minority of revolutionary minds, anti-religious, ambitious, gifted for manipulation and taking advantage of any tension (in the French case, a food penury in Paris) and ready to use any form of violence to obtain what they want. But, and it has to be said one for all, the revolution was not wanted by the people (the 'working class') and they did not gain anything out of it anyway.
Good point, but I am saying that Marie Antoinette did not take her role as queen seriously. She used it as an excuse to do what she wanted, not doing her duty to her country.

Idriel 08-18-2005 11:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tzu An
Good point, but I am saying that Marie Antoinette did not take her role as queen seriously. She used it as an excuse to do what she wanted, not doing her duty to her country.

I certainly agree with you on that point.

Elspeth 08-18-2005 12:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tzu An
The reason Monarchy is being questioned is because the young royals are beginning to live like regular rich kids. They want to marry whom they please and then behave like regular people, without the stresses that normal people have to deal with. Then the normal people who marry into royal families are more interested in fashion shows and living the rich lifestyle while not performing too many duties (at times Mary for ex.) and wanting to raise their kids "normally" which means many hands on time, but that will result in neglecting their duties which taxpayers finance them to perform.

I think the general point here is a good one (leaving aside the criticism of Crown Princess Mary, who I gather is attending some of these events in an official capacity). People do tend to want to see the monarchy reflecting the better aspirations of the people at large, and if the young royals start behaving just like all the other spoiled rich celebrities, especially when the royals have got that position and wealth from inheritance rather than their own efforts and qualities, I think people may well become cynical. That would be a shame, because the European constitutional monarchy seems to have worked well in the 20th century, and I believe it's worth keeping.

Tzu An 08-18-2005 12:50 PM

Quote:

People do tend to want to see the monarchy reflecting the better aspirations of the people at large,
Prince William is not doing that. Right now he's popular, but he may end up squandering it if this whole thing with Kate goes through. As of late most new consorts talk about "modernizing the monarchy" which is beginning to sound like "tailor it to my desires and needs so I can do what I want". William by now should be participating in duties by the truckload.

Warren 08-19-2005 12:30 AM

Self-funding?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ysbel
The government received a large unexpected windfall as a result... no one really kept track of how the annual amount given to the royal family in the Civil List related to the original assets that the Royal Family turned over. So, in short, over 200 years later, its impossible to say whether the British taxpayers are footing the bill for the royal family or whether they still owe the Queen money.

From the Crown Estate Website...

THE CROWN ESTATE ANNOUNCES PROFITS OF £184.8 MILLION .. 12 July 2005

The Crown Estate has announced today a 4.5% increase in net revenue surplus to £184.8 million for 2004/05. All of this money is paid to the Treasury for the benefit of UK taxpayers. Capital value rose 10.8% to£5,090 million, the first time it has broken the £5 billion mark.

This is what the Monarch gives up at the start of each reign in return for the Civil List.
When he becomes King Charles should tell the government that he will not sign over the income from the Crown Estates; instead he will fund the whole Royal operation himself. Then no-one could complain about the cost of the Monarchy!
.

A.C.C. 08-19-2005 02:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Warren
From the Crown Estate Website...

THE CROWN ESTATE ANNOUNCES PROFITS OF £184.8 MILLION .. 12 July 2005

The Crown Estate has announced today a 4.5% increase in net revenue surplus to £184.8 million for 2004/05. All of this money is paid to the Treasury for the benefit of UK taxpayers. Capital value rose 10.8% to£5,090 million, the first time it has broken the £5 billion mark.

This is what the Monarch gives up at the start of each reign in return for the Civil List.
When he becomes King Charles should tell the government that he will not sign over the income from the Crown Estates; instead he will fund the whole Royal operation himself. Then no-one could complain about the cost of the Monarchy!
.

Yes, I personally never understood why there was always a fuss about the 35 million pounds or so tax payers pay for the monarchy when The Queen is turning over 184 million pounds to the government. Maybe the people dont know that the money from the crown estates is given up by The Queen in exchange for the money She receives from the government. I agree Warren that maybe the money from the crown estates could be used to fund the monarchy and there could still be money left to turn over, or something to that affect. I wonder why that isn't the case right now.

ElisaR 08-19-2005 12:24 PM

It's really sad that people can't (or don't want to?) understand that they receive from the Crown more money than that which they pay for the Queen. But it should be said that there is also much misinformation (or no information at all). Newspapers always write about those 35 millions from taxpayers, they write for days or weeks each year. But who talks about the Crown Estate revenue? Articles should say: "this year the monarchy cost 35 millions from taxpayers money, the Crown Estate revenue was 185 millions, so we have gained 150 millions." Titles should claim: "Monarchy gives taxpayers 150 millions".

I agree with Warren and A.C.C.. Monarchy should take the money it needs from the Crown Estate revenue. It would be the same thing in terms of numbers and maybe people would stop to complain as, apparently, they don't bother about the Crown Estate revenue.

branchg 08-19-2005 05:15 PM

It's politics folks, as it always is. In a democracy, things are messy by nature and there are some in Parliament who are die-hard royalists and some who are Republican, just like the British people as a whole.

So all the fuss over the "cost" of the monarchy gets the media play, rather than the fact the Crown Estate funds the Government to the tune of $300 million annually, a great return on your investment by any measure!

ysbel 08-19-2005 05:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Warren
From the Crown Estate Website...

THE CROWN ESTATE ANNOUNCES PROFITS OF £184.8 MILLION .. 12 July 2005

The Crown Estate has announced today a 4.5% increase in net revenue surplus to £184.8 million for 2004/05. All of this money is paid to the Treasury for the benefit of UK taxpayers. Capital value rose 10.8% to£5,090 million, the first time it has broken the £5 billion mark.

This is what the Monarch gives up at the start of each reign in return for the Civil List.
When he becomes King Charles should tell the government that he will not sign over the income from the Crown Estates; instead he will fund the whole Royal operation himself. Then no-one could complain about the cost of the Monarchy!
.

Ah, I didn't know that, Warren. You learn something new everyday on this site!

That just goes to show that the taxpayer argument is nonexistant. Why doesn't one of the Royal Family PR reps earn their keep and highlight that?


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