Republicans attack Prince Charles


by Rumbold
21st April, 2009 at 4:35 pm    

The monarchy is an integral part of Britain’s constitutional fabric: laws are not passed until they have received royal assent; ministers hold their offices courtesy of the crown; MPs speak in the chamber by addressing their remarks to the monarch’s representative (the Speaker); and the monarch is the head of the armed forces. Yet while these constitutional niceties have lip service paid to them, in reality it is the government of the day that really controls the country, in conjunction with the European Commission. Thus, debates about whether we should have a monarchical state or republic lack urgency, as Britain would neither dive into destruction nor soar into the clouds were we to abolish the monarchy. Therefore, the debate ultimately boils down to little more than personal preference.

Graham Smith, head of the republican lobby group Republic, is not a fan of the monarchy. Fair enough. Yet he fails to make much of a case for a republic in his latest attack on Prince Charles, in which he accuses the prince of ‘political meddling’, amongst other things.

His Royal Highness is slated for “meddling in politics”, after the prince wrote a letter to the Qatari owners of Chelsea barracks, complaining that the proposed redevelopment by the architect and Labour peer Lord Rogers was hideous. Prince Charles wanted the building to be redone in a more neo-classical style. Lord Rogers, best known in Britain for the building below, then complained that Prince Charles was interfering in a planning process which was ‘open and democratic’.

The taxpayers' money-eating machine

Now, for me, this seems to boil down to a matter of taste. Which design does one prefer? Prince Charles didn’t actually interfere in the planning process, he merely wrote to the owners of the site, and expressed his opinion. Mr. Smith thinks this wrong, not realising the irony of one unelected person voicing their opinion that another unelected person shouldn’t voice their opinion. Mr. Smith does make a good point about how Prince Charles’ role must change once he becomes king, but he doesn’t even allow for that possibility.

The main focus of Mr. Smith’s attack seems to be that since he doesn’t like Prince Charles, we shouldn’t have a monarchy. It is a bad idea to argue for systems on the basis of whether you like the potential head of state. Otherwise Mr. Smith and his supporters may find themselves cheering for the prospect of a President Brown, then a President Cameron. Or maybe even a President Blair? Nor are Republic, as far as I know, campaigning for a withdrawal from the EU, on the basis that significant number of our laws now emanate from the undemocratic European Commission.

Thus the debate comes down to personal preference. Do you feel that it is sufficiently worthwhile to significantly change a constitution that has worked well, in order to have an elected head of state?


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  1. Republic Staff

    RT: @pickledpolitics: New blog post: Republicans attack Prince Charles http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4341


  2. pickles

    New blog post: Republicans attack Prince Charles http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4341




  1. atropos — on 21st April, 2009 at 4:43 pm  

    “MPs speak in the chamber by addressing their remarks to the monarch’s representative (the Speaker);”
    since when has the Speaker been the Monarch’s representative? The Speaker originally represented the Commons to the Gov’t ( in the person of the Monarch). It is only since 1997 that the Speaker has effectively been part of the Gov’t.

  2. Don — on 21st April, 2009 at 4:45 pm  

    I’d prefer a republic, but doubt it’s worth the hassle involved. Scale back once Brenda has passed on, uncouple the monarchy from the church, introduce gender equality and let it wither. I doubt it will end in my lifetime, but it doesn’t keep me awake at nights.

    But Charles is bloody annoying, isn’t he? It’s not so much the architectural pronouncements as the homeopathy nonsense and those over-priced biscuits.

  3. Bob Brookes — on 21st April, 2009 at 4:52 pm  

    “not realising the irony of one unelected person voicing their opinion that another unelected person shouldn’t voice their opinion.”

    Don’t think you’ve quite understood this Rumbold. Mr Smith’s point is that as “heir to the throne” Charles can’t speak out on political issues.

  4. faisal — on 21st April, 2009 at 4:59 pm  

    He’s a complicated man
    And no one understands him
    but his woman
    Prince Chas!

  5. Emily — on 21st April, 2009 at 4:59 pm  

    “It is a bad idea to argue for systems on the basis of whether you like the potential head of state.”

    If we were talking about an elected office, this would be a very fair point; if you don’t like an individual you have the means to get rid of them. Under a hereditary system, things are not that simple. The question of the individual ruler is intrinsically bound up with a system which foists the ‘next in line’, upon us regardless of their abilities, character – or indeed, their popular support. This is why the monarchy is so problematic.

  6. Sophia — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:02 pm  

    No, it isn’t a matter of taste at all, and it is not the case that ‘The main focus of Mr. Smith’s attack seems to be that since he doesn’t like Prince Charles, we shouldn’t have a monarchy’. The main focus is that Charles does not understand the limits of his role, this exposes the inherent weaknesses of monarchy and, in turn, the threat it poses to democracy. He makes a convincing, cogent argument. Engage with it rather than setting up straw men.

  7. Leon — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:07 pm  

    Therefore, the debate ultimately boils down to little more than personal preference.

    And the amount of money they use.

  8. Roger Ivan Hart — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:07 pm  

    Quote: ‘It is a bad idea to argue for systems on the basis of whether you like the potential head of state. Otherwise Mr. Smith and his supporters may find themselves cheering for the prospect of a President Brown, then a President Cameron. Or maybe even a President Blair?’

    Why do monarchists always seem to come up with this same tired argument? Is it because they are incapable of thinking of anything beyond their comfort zone that they hide behind that which they know, afraid to think outside their own limited mindsets for fear of opening their minds? A republic would encourage someone new and dynamic to emerge, someone who would otherwise never be considered a candidate for head of state. Anything new scares monarchists and that is why they would prefer someone like Prince Charles, someone whose refusal to accept anything new shows he is firmly rooted in the past.

  9. David — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:07 pm  

    This is a pretty thin piece of blogging. If you head over to Republic’s website Graham Smith has plenty of very good reasons for wanting rid of the monarchy.

    That said, Prince Charles is a prat. His love of ‘neo-classical’ architecture and psuedo-science bears a striking similarity to Adolf Hitler’s pet projects.

  10. Morfar — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:07 pm  

    Of course the monarchy is strong. Just look at http://www.royal.gov.uk/ThecurrentRoyalFamily/Successionandprecedence/Overview.aspx

    If His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, PC, ADC, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland were to pop his clogs, then they’ve got Prince William of Wales, Prince Henry of Wales, The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York, The Earl of Wessex, Viscount Severn, The Lady Louise Windsor, The Princess Royal, Mr. Peter Phillips, Miss Zara Phillips, Viscount Linley, The Hon. Charles Armstrong-Jones, The Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, The Lady Sarah Chatto, Master Samuel Chatto, Master Arthur Chatto, The Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, Lord Culloden, The Lady Davina Lewis, The Lady Rose Windsor, The Duke of Kent, The Lady Amelia Windsor, The Lady Helen Taylor, Master Columbus Taylor, Master Cassius Taylor, Miss Eloise Taylor, Miss Estella Taylor, The Lord Frederick Windsor, The Lady Gabriella Windsor, Princess Alexandra the Hon. Lady Ogilvy, Mr. James Ogilvy, Master Alexander Ogilvy, Miss Flora Ogilvy, Miss Marina Ogilvy, Master Christian Mowatt, Miss Zenouska Mowatt and The Earl of Harewood all lined up to jump into his shoes. Neatly tied-up, what?

    Sorry, Royalists, it makes me want to puke.

  11. Tom — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:09 pm  

    This is only a matter of whether you believe in democracy or not. You may not like certain politicians but the fact is that they were democratically elected. I don’t care what views the monarchy has, who they are. They are born into that position and is against everything a modern democratic society is in favor of.

  12. Paul Owen — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:19 pm  

    It’s got nothing to do with personalities, although Charles’s does leave a lot to be desired, it has to do with democracy and fairness. This man of very limited ability who has been demonstrably wrong on all manner of subjects into which he has intruded has huge influence and is attempting to increase his influence. At the same time he is not accountable to anyone. Politicians opine on all kinds of matters and have to justify themselves. The royals can give speeches and go on ludicrous environmental tours in private jets lecturing us all about global warming but they are answerable to nobody. Only death or an act of Parliament can remove them. That is simply wrong and, with someone as outspoken as our next king, dangerous.

  13. Graham Smith — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:20 pm  

    Hi Rumbold

    With respect you’ve completely misread the argument and misunderstood the British constitution.

    The argument has nothing to do with not liking Charles, it has to do with having a highly influential public figure – holding public office – who is entirely unaccountable and lacking in all democratic legitimacy. Such a figure could cause considerable political problems no matter who it is. The point about Charles is that he, unlike his immediate predecessors, is clearly happy to use his influence to further his own agenda.

    This particular article is dealing with that one aspect of the republican argument – it is not a point by point all-encompassing argument for a republic.

    The broader republican argument demonstrates that there really is urgency and importance in this debate: the power exercised in this country by our government is essentially unlimited, it is arbitrary and it is largely unaccountable. That is the result of having a 17th century constitution based not on the sovereignty of the people but on the sovereignty of the Crown – and that is why the government can do as it pleases with regard to rights and liberties and why it can decide, without any democratic process, to sign us all up to EU treaties.

  14. Jaf — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:28 pm  

    It seems that you haven’t properly read the original article.
    Mr. Smith hasn’t personally attacked Prince Charles, but the system which allows him to live the life of Riley, merely by dint of an accident of birth.
    This is supposed to be a democracy; we should be able to elect our leaders.

  15. Billy — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:34 pm  

    Surely most unelected officials are appointed on the basis they know about what they’re supposed to be official on.

    What does Prince Charles know about architecture?

  16. Michael Morriss — on 21st April, 2009 at 5:52 pm  

    Itis not a question as to whether you like Charles or not. He is not entitled to involve himself in politics. This cobold together democracy we preach to other nations is no democracy at all.

  17. Willy — on 21st April, 2009 at 6:02 pm  

    Rumbold Old Chap, If you put forward a rational argument I and my family would listen to you, but you don’t, as far as Prince Charles and his busy-boddy interference AGAIN!. Actually it is a very serious point that Mr Smith has raised. Regrettably you are speaking hogwash however and are plainly so tainted by Pro-Monarchy prejudice that you are unable to think clearly and see let alone understand the important point that he is making. Anyone who has visited the wwwrepublic website for example will soon learn that its aim is not as you so rudely put it “one of personal preference”. I think you owe Mr Smith – a man of integrity, an apology. Once you have visited his website I am sure you will do the decent thing..

  18. Don — on 21st April, 2009 at 6:08 pm  

    Charles has had decades of leisure and wealth in which to educate himself. He could have been dispensing opinions backed by earned doctorates and years of research. But he doesn’t need to because he is HRH and that is all the expertise he needs to grab media attention.

    His opinions on anything are about as valid as those of Richard Gere or Sharon Stone. Or Joe the Plumber, come to that.

  19. BROGA — on 21st April, 2009 at 6:14 pm  

    This article is so silly. The issue is that the Monarchy is undemocratic and the sooner we become citizens instead of subjects the better. You might as well say that David Beckham’s son should play for England regardless of ability. Grow up, for goodness sake.

  20. James Graham — on 21st April, 2009 at 6:27 pm  

    I’m not a partcularly trenchant republican, but I have to say this article is based on at least two entirely false premises:

    1. The UK constitution has not “worked well” – it is falling apart at the seams.

    2. Personality DOES matter when it comes to the monarchy. Whoever we end up with, we will have to lump. It is entirely different from an elected head of state. I might not want to see President Cameron, but if he was elected, at least I would be able to appreciate the fact that was the democratic decision. I will have no vote over whether King Charles (George actually, but let’s not get pedantic) gets to take over, or even an alternative to plump for.

    Reforming (abolishing) the monarchy is a reform that comes very low on my list of priorities, but articles like this remind me why it is there at all.

  21. Ros — on 21st April, 2009 at 6:45 pm  

    Terribly sorry to suggest a more relevant topic
    THE IRANIAN POSITION AT THE UN RACE CONFERENCE AT GENEVA.
    Ahmednejad was spot on about Israel and its racist/apartheid policies but its allies don’t want to know. They are lost in denial.

  22. Mikemo — on 21st April, 2009 at 6:45 pm  

    I think Graham Smith makes a very good case for Republic. It would seem reading the comments made here that the monarchists are the ones losing ground. No one is suggesting that abolishing the monarchy would solve all our problems. It would however create a fairer society where there is potential for real effort to be rewarded.

  23. theleveller — on 21st April, 2009 at 7:15 pm  

    “Otherwise Mr. Smith and his supporters may find themselves cheering for the prospect of a President Brown, then a President Cameron. Or maybe even a President Blair?”

    Rumbold obviously has no truck with democracy. If we abolish the monarchy, we will have a head of state who is the choice of the people rather than someone who is there merely by accident of birth, has no ‘job description’ and cannot be censured or appraised for the ‘work’ they do. I, for one, will give four cheers for democracy if that happens. Rumbold, no doubt, will depart and seek a totalitarian state to live in.

  24. Philip — on 21st April, 2009 at 7:16 pm  

    Prince Charles was not simply acting as an ordinary member of the public, nor was he excercising influence with a position he had been elected to or had achieved by his own merit. For this reason, Mr. Smith, as a member of the public and someone with a position gained by his own merit, is correct that Prince Charles is meddling in politics. Were there not a monarchy, Prince Charles would indeed be simply giving his opinion as the individual Charles Windsor and not as someone with a status gained undemocratically and regardless of merit.

  25. justforfun — on 21st April, 2009 at 7:16 pm  

    PRINCE Charles – LORD Rogers – is there a pattern emerging here?

    While a monarchy may be better than a president – argue if you like either way – but a worse blot on our constitution is the House of Lords. They really need reform – immediately.

    justforfun

  26. Don — on 21st April, 2009 at 7:20 pm  

    In an ideal constitution – no king, no bishops.

  27. Philip — on 21st April, 2009 at 7:24 pm  

    P.S. – I would like to say that, while I’m no fan of Ahmandnejad, I agree with Ros that what the Iranian President said in Geneva was bang on and if what he said was fanatical then tattoo the word “Fanatic” to my forehead!!!

  28. justforfun — on 21st April, 2009 at 7:30 pm  

    In an ideal constitution – no king, no bishops. … and no appointed or hereditary Lords.

    At least the monachy makes no laws and is the least of our problems.

    got to dash

    justforfun

  29. Rumbold — on 21st April, 2009 at 8:16 pm  

    Crikey- a co-ordinated republican attack. Lots of new names. How interesting.

    Don:

    Yes, the biscuits aren’t wonderful are they?

    “His opinions on anything are about as valid as those of Richard Gere or Sharon Stone. Or Joe the Plumber, come to that.”

    Exactly. I never said people should listen to him.

    Leon:

    I would certainly stop giving money to the minor royals, but a lot of money that goes to the royals is spent on buildings, which are major tourist attractions. The system could be improved though.

    Roger Ivan Hart:

    “A republic would encourage someone new and dynamic to emerge, someone who would otherwise never be considered a candidate for head of state.”

    Maybe. It depends on how the system would work.

    Graham Smith:

    Thank you for responding.

    “With respect you’ve completely misread the argument.”

    I certainly didn’t intend to misrepresent you and I think that you, like many republicans, put forward reasonable arguments often. However, as I said, I believe that whole debate is partly a matter of preference, and that, combined with what I believe to be my reasonable arguments, combine to make me a monarchist.

    “This particular article is dealing with that one aspect of the republican argument – it is not a point by point all-encompassing argument for a republic.”

    But, for me, you weren’t convincing (a fact I freely admit was partly caused by my opinions before I read your piece). Yes, Prince Charles voices his opinions. Traditionally, the heir to the throne often did that. It wasn’t considered a problem unless it descended into outright opposition, as with George III and the future George IV.

    “The broader republican argument demonstrates that there really is urgency and importance in this debate: the power exercised in this country by our government is essentially unlimited, it is arbitrary and it is largely unaccountable. That is the result of having a 17th century constitution based not on the sovereignty of the people but on the sovereignty of the Crown – and that is why the government can do as it pleases with regard to rights and liberties and why it can decide, without any democratic process, to sign us all up to EU treaties.”

    I accept that our constitution could be improved. However, it is the elected government that makes all the laws. The monarch doesn’t actually interfere in the law-making process. Therefore I don’t regard the constitutional debate about republican vs. monarchical ideas, but rather a debate about the over-powerful executive.

    In all honesty, how much power do you think the monarchy really exercises?

    James Graham:

    On average, in comparison with most countries, the constitution has worked pretty well. That’s not to say, as Graham Smith points out, that we can’t do more to reform it. But it is unclear to me why abolishing the monarchy will bring to heel an over-mighty executive. If anything, it will strengthen it.

  30. Philip Hosking — on 21st April, 2009 at 8:24 pm  

    If you want another point of view on the Duchy of Cornwall and its relationship to the territory and people of Cornwall then try the website from the Duchy of Cornwall Human Rights Association: http://duchyofcornwall.eu/

    Or the Cornish Stannary Parliament: http://www.cornishstannaryparliament.co.uk/

    Not such a private estate after all.

  31. Gareth Hughes — on 21st April, 2009 at 10:03 pm  

    What a ridiculous article by Rumbold! I’m a regular reader of Pickled Politics, not a ‘new name’, and am appalled at this article. Rather than Graham Smith’s article being the one that is based on personal dislike and fails to put the case for a republic, it is this article that is pure ad hominem drivel. One has to develop this inability to think straight to support a monarchy.

    If we started a community on a desert island or different planet, we would not choose monarchy, not even ‘constitutional’ monarchy. Even in our present state, there are no good reasons for keeping such an institution. Monarchy is anti-democratic: voters have no say over who should be monarch and cannot hold them to account. No one today can support the principle of hereditary peers sitting or snoozing in the upper house. For the same reason, we should not consider hereditary principle a good way of choosing head of state for life.

    Charles’s qualification is by birth: that’s not a real qualification nor a valid mandate for leadership. We all possess this qualification in a democracy. Charles regularly pontificates on various subjects on which he has no professional qualification, nor support from those who have. He is merely abusing his position of unearned privilege.

    If this argument looks personal, it is because the monarchy makes it personal. The royal family is a soap opera set at the apex of our state. If anything, republicanism is about promoting principles above persons. Even the circus of the US presidential election involves more political principles than Charles whinging about ‘carbuncles’.

  32. Willy — on 21st April, 2009 at 10:18 pm  

    Thank you so much Gareth Hughes, your comments were excellent and gets to the guts of this so rotten,rotten monarchy that we are unfortunately lumbered with at present.

  33. platinum786 — on 21st April, 2009 at 11:07 pm  

    Why is everyone so anti Royal? What have they taken from you? The statistics show the Royal family contribute more to the economy than they take.

    It’s a shame to see people so willing to strip the country of part of it’s heritage. If the Egyptians were to remove the pyramids as they were “Un-Islamic pagan buildings” how many of you would support that move?

    We all also seem to forget that this country is owned by the Royal family. Their only fault is being weak enough to give away what was there’s to politicians over time.

    For better or for worse, I think Royalty would show more integrity when making decisions in the interest of the nation than the likes of Tony Blair, at least they would feel a responsibility to the country they own. It is the ancestors of the Royal family who have established this nation, they built this nation, simply because they have put power in your hands does not mean we should be ungrateful.

    But what can you expect from a country where you put must of your old people in a home when you decide they infringe on your lifestyle.

  34. douglas clark — on 21st April, 2009 at 11:45 pm  

    platinum786,

    That was satire, wasn’t it?

  35. cjcjc — on 22nd April, 2009 at 7:11 am  

    It may have been satire, but I broadly agree with it!

  36. Rumbold — on 22nd April, 2009 at 8:15 am  

    I don’t think that Platinum is being satirical.

    For me, I don’t see the point in creating a republic for the sake of creating a republic, when our royal family has virtually no power in reality. Moroever, as Platinum points out, they more than pay their own way as tourist attractions. Or perhaps the punters would flock to see Hazel Blears and Ed Balls instead in the monarchy was abolished?

    Gareth Hughes:

    Yes, were we to create a community from scratch on a desert island I would certainly advocate a republic. However, constitutions do not exist in a vacuum, and so the question is whether a republic would improve this country’s constitution a lot. Note, not anything else, merely a republic.

    Using other countries as a comparison, does France have a better political system than we do? Is Germany’s better than Holland’s? Italy’s than Sweden’s?

  37. Gerishnakov — on 22nd April, 2009 at 8:16 am  

    platinu786,

    Why don’t we just give over all power to the monarchy and have a completely appointed government, if you think it would work so well?

    They didn’t build this nation, their subjects did it for them.

  38. platinum786 — on 22nd April, 2009 at 8:25 am  

    It wasn’t Satire, I don’t see the Royal family as a challenge to democracy, rather something important within our culture.

    Geri, if you were to give all power back to them they might not be as incompetent as you think. All the rich arab countries are run by kings, they seem to run their countries to an acceptable standard. It may not be paradise on earth but neither is Britain is it.

    I haven’t heard 1 good reason to remove them, apart from the fact people are jealous of their wealth and their lifestyle.

    It could be worse you know, nobody travels to Saudi to see their king, the Saudi Monarchy cost the local economy, ours contribute to it.

    There is also the matter of honour involved. Their ancestors honoured agreements in the past to allow the people to have power. They could have fought back in later years, built their strength, hundreds of years agot here were plenty of feudal lords and loyalists and royalists to fight anotehr civil war, they didn’t they honoured the agreement they made. Why should we turn on it?

    I just don’t understand your problem with them.

  39. FreethinkerUK — on 22nd April, 2009 at 8:27 am  

    It never ceases to amaze me that whenever the topic of finally becoming a democracy and electing our own head of state comes up, numbers of people say “What! Imagine Tony Blair or Gordon Brown as President.”

    Try to get your head around it people; We would get who the majority voted for, nothing more, nothing less and it’s called Democracy. In addition if it turned out that we didn’t like our choice then in four or five years we can vote for someone else. With a king or queen we have no choice and are stuck with them ’til they die and then we have someone else from the same family appointed appointed to take their place. That is NOT Democracy!

  40. Graham Smith — on 22nd April, 2009 at 10:09 am  

    “For me, I don’t see the point in creating a republic for the sake of creating a republic, when our royal family has virtually no power in reality. Moroever, as Platinum points out, they more than pay their own way as tourist attractions.”

    Firstly, do you have any evidence to back up that second statement, about the royals “paying their own way”? In what sense do they earn any money for the taxpayer in return for the millions we spend on them?

    Secondly, this isn’t about the power of the royals. Listen to the arguments and read our website. It’s about a number of things, but no-one is suggesting that the royals are exercising much power (although the Queen can exercise some).

    Put simply: this is a debate about our constitution – the monarchy is not just some harmless cultural relic or decoration, it is central to our constitution. That is different to saying the Queen or her family actually exercise powers themselves.

  41. platinum786 — on 22nd April, 2009 at 10:09 am  

    ^^^ But what do they actually influence? Nothing.

  42. Graham Smith — on 22nd April, 2009 at 10:12 am  

    “It could be worse you know, nobody travels to Saudi to see their king, the Saudi Monarchy cost the local economy, ours contribute to it.”

    Can you back any of that up with evidence?

    The cost isn’t actually hugely important to the debate because it’s actually about power and politics, but you can’t just make these sweeping statements without backing them up. Our monarchy costs the nation tens of millions of pounds a year – where’s the evidence they contribute anything in return?

  43. Leon — on 22nd April, 2009 at 10:19 am  

    but a lot of money that goes to the royals is spent on buildings, which are major tourist attractions.

    If they are those tourists would have no problem paying for their upkeep. Why should the British tax payer be lumped with this bill?

  44. Graham Smith — on 22nd April, 2009 at 10:22 am  

    “But it is unclear to me why abolishing the monarchy will bring to heel an over-mighty executive. If anything, it will strengthen it.”

    This really goes to the heart of your misunderstanding about the British constitution.

    It is not possible to strengthen the British executive except to do away with parliament and the courts altogether. It is one of the most powerful executives in the democratic world – far more powerful than that of Germany, Ireland or the US. The reason for that is the Crown and the monarchy.

    The Crown is sovereign – which means it is the source of all power in this country – there is no higher authority than the Crown. The Crown is “in parliament” which means parliament can exercise sovereign power for the most part. Parliament is essentially controlled by the executive. Those Crown powers not in parliament remain with the monarch, but are exercised either directly or indirectly by the PM. The Cabinet is a sub-committee of the Privy Council, a body which remains in place to allow the PM to use the monarch to pass laws and regulations without going to parliament. It also allows the PM to exercise sweeping prerogative powers in the monarch’s name.

    There is no limit to the powers of the sovereign (that’s what sovereign means). In this country that means effectively there are no limits to the powers of the executive and parliament. In a republican democracy the sovereign would be the people and the parliament and executive would therefore have their powers limited by a written constitution which recognises our sovereignty.

    This is the point with republicanism: in Britain the monarchy makes the government sovereign and therefore gives it effectively unlimited power. The institution itself, as we see on this thread, helps protect this outrageous constitutional arrangement by making it look like a harmless cultural icon rather than a serious part of our constitution.

  45. Leon — on 22nd April, 2009 at 10:25 am  

    combine to make me a monarchist.

    I’m not sure monarchism and libertarianism are actually compatible…

  46. Katy Newton — on 22nd April, 2009 at 10:33 am  

    Oh, it all depends how interventionist your monarch is.

  47. Willy — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:06 am  

    Platinum 786 – you are too set in your ways I fear and no matter what, will remain a monarchy freak for as long as you live. Indeed I am prepared to place a huge bet with Ladbrokes on your inflexibility and become rich.Not that I am a gambling ‘addict’ – not at all – I just enjoy a flutter now and then. As for the Satire you mentioned, I suggest you read a five star rated book (on Amazon) I read a few months back – Monarchy:Politics of Tyranny & Denial. Possibly, if you survive choking on your morning toast and the spluttering over your coffee, you will be persuaded to reject Monarchy? I really would not mind losing my wager under those circumstances. As for your “statement” – ‘but what do they actually influence’. Duh???

  48. paskell — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:14 am  

    Its not just Charles its the whole unelected lot of them , lets be plain about this,
    it makes an nonsense of the idea of democracy .Let people make up their own minds lets vote on it!
    I will abide by the outcome ,but I fear we will never get a chance some democracy eh!

  49. Shuggy — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:44 am  

    The main focus of Mr. Smith’s attack seems to be that since he doesn’t like Prince Charles, we shouldn’t have a monarchy.

    Hmmm, however I think the charge of political meddling is justified. When Prince Charles was told that his public pronouncements on agriculture had implications for UK membership of the EU he allegedly said, “So?” To be unable to understand what your role should be is a significant shortcoming for the heir to the throne to have. And since this is the role he was born to take, it seems unlikely that remedial education would remedy his shortcomings. That is, in and of itself, an argument against monarchy, no?

  50. kinder suprise — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:52 am  

    Morfar plenty there for the Tumbrill ! Where can i find one ASAP off with there heads

  51. platinum786 — on 22nd April, 2009 at 11:57 am  

    Name a single measure passed by parliament the Queen has refused to sign…i might be wrong, but i can’t think of a single one.

  52. Wiccad — on 22nd April, 2009 at 12:13 pm  

    The arguments of monarchists never cease to flabbergast me with their misinformation, inanity and utterly ridiculous claims and statements. ‘they own this country’ ‘they make money for this country’ To believe the first statement surely you have to be some sort of masochist with a slave fetish and for the second well as the tinker said to the commodore “You don’t know what the bloody Hell you’re talking about”. Re this apparently widely-read and influential blog (eh? I can’t comprehend that either but I suppose it’s with other pickles) Charles just makes himself such an easy target and in contrast Anne’s progeny stand out in that list as ‘Mr’ and ‘Miss’ but no we’d not want her as queen, we want no monarch at all, whether snivelling Charlie or a half decent person, of course it’s not about personality.

  53. Anon — on 22nd April, 2009 at 12:14 pm  

    so the current constitution has worked well has it?

    what is meant by ‘worked well’?
    im sure hitler thought those concentration camps worked well.
    ‘worked well’ for who?
    not for the poorest of society.
    it is simply WRONG to have a monarchy that is so rich while people in the world are starving

  54. Mike Frain — on 22nd April, 2009 at 12:27 pm  

    Attaching the name of a politician unpopular with a large section of the population to the word ‘President’ is a poor argument against Republicanism.

    Try this test which I have devised and which has been trialled on a sample of 1 person for a couple of minutes with staggering results:-

    Who, in your opinion, is the most impressive person in Britain today? Who do you respect and trust? Who do you hugely admire and perhaps fancy a little bit?

    Now say the following out loud : ‘President (insert name here)’

    Now that’s not so bad is it?

  55. Leo Goatley — on 22nd April, 2009 at 12:49 pm  

    Is Rumbold suggesting that the lack of urgency in considering the question of the constitutional head of state is derived from the fact that really the monarchy’s role and significance is inconsequential?

    If this is the case, then, apart from the question of democracy, or lack thereof, he should not mind whether we have a monarch or a President.

    My motivation for joining Republic was and remains one of democratic principle; individual royal personality does not come into it. However, individual royal conduct in relation to duties, public propriety or finance clearly is a matter of public interest.

    On the question of Rumbold’s pondering the selection of potential Presidents, it appears he overlooked the vast scope of talent that might be brought to the job, from trade and business to science,architecture, the arts, music, and literature. I am sure there are many who support the Republic who would not want to see a crusty old, weather-beaten politician as President!

  56. Graham Smith — on 22nd April, 2009 at 1:07 pm  

    “Name a single measure passed by parliament the Queen has refused to sign…i might be wrong, but i can’t think of a single one.”

    Who said she’s done that? Not me. She doesn’t actually put pen to paper to give laws assent now anyway, that hasn’t happened for a long time.

  57. Chris Baldwin — on 22nd April, 2009 at 1:16 pm  

    Don’t you think it’s a bit of a smack in the face to have a head of state who only got the job because his ancestors had bigger sticks than anyone else? People like to sneer at the prospect of President Blair or Cameron, but at least those people have actually done enough stuff to come to public attention. We know who they are. Who’s Elizabeth II? What did she ever do to qualify her to be head of state?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_The_Commonwealth.svg

  58. Paul Nicholas Bellamy — on 22nd April, 2009 at 2:09 pm  

    ending monarchy is an issue of human rights, monarchy must end because it violates the right for all to be elected head of state, monarchy is racist because of this human rights violation, monarchy is a crime against humanity because monarchy is a form of apartheid, god has put an end to monarchy in the world.

  59. dave bones — on 22nd April, 2009 at 2:38 pm  

    Yeah totally. Down with the Monarchy. Orrrf with their ‘eds and the ‘eds of all the flappers who suck up to them.

  60. Gareth Robson — on 22nd April, 2009 at 6:53 pm  

    England needs a bold, new, republican constitution. For the last 30 years (at least) we have been sleepwalking, frozen inside the sclerotic UK with its unalterable, monarch-dominated constitution. Let’s wake up and vote for a less supine future. Stage 1 – the people vote “yes” to the “Republic?” referendum. Stage 2 – a long, transparent, high-profile series of events, consultations and broadcasts is kicked off, at the end of which the new republican constitution is defined and published. Stage 3 – the people vote again in a referendum on the new proposed constitution. Stage 4 – the first presidential elections take place, and …. the English Republic is born !!!! YEEEESSSSSSS !!!!!!!

  61. S — on 22nd April, 2009 at 7:36 pm  

    “not realising the irony of one unelected person voicing their opinion that another unelected person shouldn’t voice their opinion”

    Surely the difference is that we can all state our opinion, whether it be for or against the monarchy – indeed, someone with an opposing view could just as legitimately form a pressure group. One may even already exist. But Graham Smith will, sadly, never have the influence of Charles or any of the other royals, simply because he was not born into the correct family. Alright, in this case the issue is architecture – in the future, who knows what the price (or any other royal) may choose to mess with? The sooner we’re rid of the undemocratic, anachronistic farce that is the monarchy, the better.

  62. Don — on 22nd April, 2009 at 7:39 pm  

    David Attenborough for President.

    Let’s move fast, he ain’t getting any younger.

  63. Don — on 22nd April, 2009 at 7:49 pm  

    http://www.duchyoriginals.com/detox_tincture.php

    Future monarch peddles snake-oil. At ten quid for 50 ml.

  64. persephone — on 22nd April, 2009 at 8:57 pm  

    I don’t know about snake oil but Echinacea works better than Lemsip. Not all natural remedies are fakery. I did think that Charlie was progressive in supporting organic farming decades before it became prevalent. So not all stuck in the past eh? .

    I don’t agree with Charlie’s comments on architectual carbuncles – certainly some of Rogers buildings are landmarks & major UK tourist attractions – something Charlie forgets

  65. Shamit — on 23rd April, 2009 at 7:27 am  

    Keep the Monarchy and our current Queen is an ideal example of a Head of State who has served her country well over 50 years and as an icon have held the nation together. Without the monarchy, and the phrase Queen and Country, I think there would have been an England, Scotland and Wales rather quickly — and as a British Asian who does not fit the boxes of those nationalities, I prefer the United Kingdom and its monarchy.

    I am not sure about Charles though — may be skip a generation that would probably do the country and the monarchy a lot of good.

  66. Chris Baldwin — on 23rd April, 2009 at 10:21 am  

    That’s impossible Shamit. The instant Elizabeth II dies Charles will become king automatically. We don’t get to choose. That’s the whole point.

  67. Shamit — on 23rd April, 2009 at 10:54 am  

    Chris

    Ulitmately, under our constitution, the Parliament ie House of Commons is Sovereign and we can change the laws of succession.

    Secondly, Charles has done some really good work with the Prince’s trust and I don’t think Charles would be such a bad King.

    Third, the moment you have an elected President — who as been suggested here would be elected directly by the people — actually would have more political authority than the Prime Minister who after all has been elected only by his party and his constituency. Now, an elected leader of all the people not having any say in how our country is run. That sounds rather undemocratic.

    So, unless you change the entire system of governance of this country then we would create confusion and in the process destabilise the country.

    Now, if the system change you call for — asks for a proper Federal structure of governance with an elected President and similary elected executives across the land — then you might get some support from me. But I don’t see that happening in the near future.

    Also, what say did we have in Gordon Brown becoming PM. He would lose a dog catcher election any day.

    Another point Republicans make continuously, is the Royal perogative — again the Parliament can stop the usage of that– what makes you think getting rid of the Monarchy would end executive privilege.

    If this is the level of debate that Republicans can muster, then the Queen and her successors are safe. Especially going against the Queen show them to be rather idiotic — name one person who has served the nation more faithfully than HM in the last 50 years.

    Give the old lady her due.

  68. Chris Baldwin — on 23rd April, 2009 at 3:10 pm  

    Well Gordon Brown might not be able to be elected as dog catcher (surely not an elected position), but he was elected MP for Dunfermline East five times and MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath once so far.

    “Ulitmately, under our constitution, the Parliament ie House of Commons is Sovereign and we can change the laws of succession.”

    If you’re suggesting that parliament should choose the next head of state, well that sounds a lot like a Republic to me!

  69. Shamit — on 23rd April, 2009 at 3:40 pm  

    But it does not make us a republic — it makes us a Constitutional Monarchy and it works for us.

    So why change it especially since the change would require us to change the entire system of governance as I have highlighted @68.

    I do see another interesting problem if Parliament is allowed to elect the Head of State. It means the Head of State would be in the pocket of the PM and the governing party — and that person is supposed to decide who forms a government when there is a hung parliament?

  70. Ian McIntosh — on 24th April, 2009 at 4:06 am  

    Rumbold (30):

    “On average, in comparison with most countries, the constitution has worked pretty well. That’s not to say, as Graham Smith points out, that we can’t do more to reform it. But it is unclear to me why abolishing the monarchy will bring to heel an over-mighty executive. If anything, it will strengthen it.”

    It seems a bit ironic to have an un-elected person ‘keeping a check’ on the power of someone who IS elected, doesn’t it?

    I believe anyone in a position of political power should be elected-not just the commons or lower house, but the upper house, or lords, as well, and of course, the head of state. They would all be accountable to the people then, and we could vote them out again after a term of a few years.

  71. Gerard Mulholland — on 24th April, 2009 at 11:01 pm  

    “Thus the debate comes down to personal preference. Do you feel that it is sufficiently worthwhile to significantly change a constitution that has worked well, in order to have an elected head of state?”

    Well, no, actually, it doesn’t.

    The choice is to keep the monarchy or to get rid of it.
    What we do if we get rid of it is a separate question.

    Personally I favour the Swiss system – no Head of State and no Head of Government.

    Look at all the money they save!
    Richest country in Europe.
    Sounds good to me.

  72. Rumbold — on 25th April, 2009 at 8:40 am  

    Republicans are sincere in their beliefs, and I respect that. However, on this thread, no one has managed to covince me that they following are true:

    - That issues of overarching state power can be dealt with only by abolishing the monarchy.
    - That the monarchy is a malign force in Briitsh politics.
    - That comparable republics have a much better political system than us.

  73. Sunny — on 27th April, 2009 at 2:19 am  

    lol. Rumbold , you got rumbled.

  74. Rumbold — on 27th April, 2009 at 9:14 am  

    Not sure how, but okay?

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