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Queen's intervention leads to acquittal in Regina v. Burrell.

November 1, 2002 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Queen's intervention leads to acquittal in Regina v. Burrell.
Princess diana's butler, Paul Burrell - her 'rock' - is acquitted of theft from Princess Diana after Queen Elizabeth admits her knowledge of his 'caretaking' of Diana's property. This case has always smacked of a class divide - surely we shouldn't let the hoi-polloi be so close to their uppers and betters? Surely Diana wouldn't really let a mere butler have her precious momentos? Is this farce one more nail in the British Monarchy's coffin? Or, as the popular weakness of the movement towards the abolition of the uk monarchy attests, will the Windsors ride this out, as they did the opposition they encountered after the death of 'The Queen of Hearts'? [More republican links here]
posted by dash_slot- (33 comments total)

 
Interestingly, Paul Burrell continues to protest his utter loyalty to the Crown, and Diana's memory. The prosecution seems to have misled Prince Charles and his wonderful boys, and at the last minute, just before the defence put it's case, a legal trick of using a 'Public Interest Immunity Certificate' failed. What, I wonder, were they trying to hide?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:53 AM on November 1, 2002


Does the Royal Family actually get money from the British Citizens? I thought (could be wrong) that they were no longer supported by taxes.
posted by jsonic at 6:58 AM on November 1, 2002


sounds like the hoi polloi need to get $5 bucks out of the atm machine using their pin number.

(sorry, just seems like everyone has been writing it thusly recently, and it really pisses me off for some reason...)
posted by dorian at 7:07 AM on November 1, 2002


To piggy-back on to jsonics question: Does the Monarch have any government power, at all?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:19 AM on November 1, 2002


Does the Royal Family actually get money from the British Citizens? I thought (could be wrong) that they were no longer supported by taxes.

Oh yes we are - to the tune of some 35m GBP it seems.

Although there has been somewhat of a reduction of late it seems.

Us poor downtrodden brits have a lot to finance!
posted by andyHollister at 7:24 AM on November 1, 2002


Queen of hearts? Make that greatest briton who ever lived.
posted by robself at 7:29 AM on November 1, 2002


As a subject of the Crown (Canadian), but not one whose taxes go to directly support the royals, I don't really have an opinion on the whole monarchy vs republicanism debate. However, I would like to pose a question to the Brits here -- do you think the money you shell out is outweighed by the boost the to the UK tourism industry? An awful lot of people visit the UK every year because of its monarchist attractions (ie. the changing of the guard, various palaces, etc.), and not just us "colonials" either.
posted by pooligan at 7:39 AM on November 1, 2002


Thank you, dorian. We need to stamp out and destroy redundancies, and return them back from whence they came.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:45 AM on November 1, 2002


dorian: i've no idea what you are talking about!

S_@_L: The Queen has to sign bills into law (that's when they officially can become Acts of Parliament), but does not promote bills, suggest bills or - excepting very rare cases - veto bills. She is, in other words, essentially a figurehead.

BUT: there are moments of crisis in any constitution, which - arguably - need resolution by a figurehead (I'm sure there are other methods: I don't know of all the possible options). If a government falls, having lost the confidence of a majority of MP's in the UK Parliament, the Queen may call upon the leader of another party to try to form such a majority. This, of course is rare: such a situation would normally lead to a General Election, where the Leader of the largest party in the House of Commons (aka the Prime Minister) goes to Buck House and requests (!) that the Queen formally dissolve Parliament. All of this is to preserve the fiction that it is the Queen in Parliament that governs us.

As a brit of Irish extraction, I'd personally like to see a republic proclaimed at the earliest opportunity. As a realist, I think we're stuck with these parasites for some time to come.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2002


Thank you for the information dash_slot. Out of curiosity, if the Queen would veto a bill, is there any recourse, like how the U.S. Congress can over turn a veto?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:58 AM on November 1, 2002


Call me cynical but one could suggest that this was all a cunning ploy to prevent the Queen from appearing in the witness box....
posted by ifenn at 7:58 AM on November 1, 2002


Careful what you say, folks. I don't know whether the law applies to the web, but it's illegal in the UK to advocate the abolition of the monarchy in print, as The Guardian found out.
posted by Nick Jordan at 8:01 AM on November 1, 2002


When it comes to tourism, these visitors don't usually get to see the Royals: they get to see historic buildings, pomp & ceremony (at which H.R.H. is occasionally present) & other twee bits and bobs of this septic Isle. That needn't be abolished: after all, Changing of the Guard happens in Republican democracies too, doesn't it?

Much of the Royal duties - ceremonial or functional - could be equally well done by an elected head of state. I don't know or care about the costs involved: it's the principle that counts.

ifenn: by a case in 1911, when i believe the king was accused of having a mistress, it was established that Monarchs do not give evidence personally in court. However, it may have been necessary to avoid further embarassment to her, as it turns out that she knew from the beginning that Burrell had Di's stuff.

S_@_L: she wouldn't do it. But hypothetically, if she did, my recourse: March on the Palace! [I doubt I'd be alone...]
posted by dash_slot- at 8:11 AM on November 1, 2002


One of the main reasons not to abolish the monarchy is the cost.

All the 20th century monarchy-abolishments which were effected either (a) upon kings defeated in war (the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Italian monarchs or (b) by socialistic regimes happy to expropriate royal property (Russia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, etc.)

Britain, however, respects property, and the royal family would be entitled to take away very large amounts of land and property in any transition to a Republic, or be compensated for any property which the state would keep.
posted by MattD at 8:31 AM on November 1, 2002


She may not trouble any bills, but Elizabeth has no truck with Missy.
posted by robself at 8:35 AM on November 1, 2002


If what is reported in this article is the truth, then why didn't the Queen step in at the beginning to defend a royal servant? I don't know the court procedures or precedents, but it could appear that personal loyalty is only on Mr. Burrell's side.

But, he did go from her service to Diana's -- demotion, or lateral move? And look at whose "confidant" he was (hint: NOT the reigning monarch) -- perhaps not the best way to endear oneself to the Queen...assuming that most-things-Diana still irk her.

If this situation were fiction, I'd bet that the Queen is putting those "nasty Spencers" in their place, by pulling this rug out from under them after their testimonies, which really reveal how personally dysfunctional that whole group is. (The term "shrieking fishwives" comes to mind, but I wouldn't want to insult fishwives by the comparison.)

dash_slot: While I agree about the pomp and architecture, I can't see any American getting up at 4:00 AM to watch Tony Blair's child's wedding or funeral, much less pay for any commemorative collectible of the event. And sorry, but the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near Washington, DC is much too somber in comparison (and it lacks really spiffy headgear!).

My question: how does this relate to "Queen Camilla"? What do you Royal Subjects hear about the progress of that?
posted by PennyPrune at 8:47 AM on November 1, 2002


hrm, you guys ever see that show, 'mr belvideere' or whatever?
posted by delmoi at 9:26 AM on November 1, 2002


If the Queen vetoes a bill that goes to her for signature, that's it, it doesn't get passed. A modified version could presumably go before the Houses of Parliament again and then on to her... But it's not going to happen. She will never ever ever use a veto, even if the bill was saying 'the Queen is smelly and we want to be a Republic'. It just don't happen. Her power is totally theoretical.
posted by humuhumu at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2002


I don't see how what we know about this incident affects the monarchy's standing, let alone Queen Camilla. When we find out what Burrell had on Brenda and the family that took three days to thrash out in closed session and the Buck House spin doctors to come up with this excuse, that might be when to look pointedly at Lillibet and start tapping the watch.

Might I venture to say that, given the current standards of Windsor longevity, by the time Camilla even has a chance to get a crown on her head Charles may well have long since decided it's not worth the wait and retired to his favourite glen with his by-appointment bottles of green ink. I can't see Camilla as that much of a behind-every-great-man type somehow.

the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near Washington, DC is much too somber in comparison (and it lacks really spiffy headgear!).

I'm sure we could get away with something a bit like this, as long as we got to skip the bit with the purges and the civil war.

(Oh, and, Royals In Court II...)
posted by CatherineB at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2002


i am surprised that her majesty hasnt stepped in sooner
to stop this bunch of raving, halfwitted lunatics carrying
out their petty schemes.

but i am sure evanizer will be back one day.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:40 AM on November 1, 2002


hrm, you guys ever see that show, 'mr belvideere' or whatever?

That's Brocktoon to you,pal.
posted by ttrendel at 9:59 AM on November 1, 2002


Britain, however, respects property, and the royal family would be entitled to take away very large amounts of land and property in any transition to a Republic, or be compensated for any property which the state would keep.
posted by MattD at 8:31 AM PST on November 1


Well, that one don't wash. Whose property is it, when the Windsors - in a very long line of despots going back via all the german Georges, Norman & dutch Williams, and scottish jameses and charleses - inherited it from thieving, invading overlords?

You're not seriously saying, as a citizen of a liberated nation (whereas I am a subject of Her Majesty), that you support their 'rights' to keep their ill-gotten gains, and/or be compensated handsomely too?

I say they'll be lucky not to be put up against the wall: they acquired their position, wealth and power (such as that is, these days) through violence: maybe thats how they should go, too. (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 10:09 AM on November 1, 2002


The Queen may not exercise her power openly, but she has a lot of influence in many many ways. Saying that the Queen has no power because she would never veto a bill is like saying that the major banks in the City of London have no power because they would never withdraw all their money from the market at once.

In the early days of Blair's term, there were a few leaks from "palace insiders" to the press that she was displeased with some of his policies. The press ran with the story, and Blair quickly organised some public appearances to show that he was properly heeled before his sovereign. The Queen also has a great deal of influence through patronage, and connections with the royal family can help a lot in London business.

The English are very attached to their ideas of nation and history. William's media persona has been well-managed. Elizabeth is a shrewd politician, and she has managed to overcome her terrible handling of her daughter-in-law. The monarchists are ascendant again.

I don't think that England will ever become a republic for political reasons. The only route to ending the monarchy would be if a serious corruption scandal emerged in the network of influence that surrounds it.
posted by fuzz at 12:17 PM on November 1, 2002


dash_slot: dorian is talking about this, a bugaboo refuted here (and here).
posted by languagehat at 12:28 PM on November 1, 2002


What, I wonder, were they trying to hide?

side note:I Happened to catch a blip of news about Paul Burrel that showed some of the actual possessions in question. Here's basically how they explained at the time how he would get off once it was brought before the Queen.

Ever get a gift from a relative that is tacky, so you just shove it in a drawer or throw it out with the rubbish hand it off. Well imagine all the gifts of state you get being a Royal. So basically these possessions were some very pricey tacky gifts that she pond off with him to hide or even keep. Now if this was released out, then all the Royals would have some explaining as this happens through out and how do you say your gift was tacky to another figure head of state, you don't. You smile and then try to find a place to hide it in your castel, like the servant quarters.

Seeing the Movie Godsford Park helped me understand the relationship of a servant to the master in work in the UK.

I'm too poor to even be royal rubbish.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:28 PM on November 1, 2002


languagehat : You mean 'hoi-polloi'? I thought that was a reference, but what does "...$5 bucks out of the atm machine using their pin number..." refer to? I am so dumb....

I don't think that England will ever become a republic for political reasons. The only route to ending the monarchy would be if a serious corruption scandal emerged in the network of influence that surrounds it.
posted by fuzz at 12:17 PM PST on November 1


- That doesn't differ from prolly every Head of State in the world, maybe excepting a couple (Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela...er, thats it). The UK has a relatively low rate of bribery & corruption (maybe 'cos anglo-saxon capitalism favours them so well? Just sayin'), and switching from Monarch to President (note: we'd still have a PM - leader of the largest party in the House of Commons) may not change that much, it being a cultural thing an'all. In my opinion.

thom: o, my! That actually sounds believable... but just remember - Gosford Park was a long time ago: about as long ago as when it was acceptable to lynch folks in Alabama and such. We don't all go into service at 14 any more, y'know! (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 12:46 PM on November 1, 2002


how do you say your gift was tacky to another figure head of state

I'm too poor to even be royal rubbish.



I've already said it, I repeat it here: thomcat for president
posted by matteo at 1:01 PM on November 1, 2002


Pooligan: the boost to the tourist industry is one argument used in favour of the monarchy. Personally, I find the premise somewhat suspect - the monarchy is by no means the only tourist attraction in Britain. It rests on the idea that Britain was made great by the royal family, when perhaps the greater role was played by the British people themselves (Shakespeare? Darwin? Newton?). After all, Rome no longer has an Emperor, but still attracts plenty of tourists.
posted by plep at 1:08 PM on November 1, 2002


dash_slot: He's alluding to the supposed redundancy of "the hoi polloi" by writing "$5 bucks" (dollars/bucks), "atm machine" (where m stands for machine), and "pin number" (where n stands for number). Wasted sarcasm, since everyone says "atm machine" and "pin number" (and thus you wouldn't notice anything wrong, since there isn't anything wrong), and no one says or writes "$5 bucks" (so it's totally irrelevant, even if the whole thing weren't irrelevant). No reason to feel dumb.
posted by languagehat at 6:26 PM on November 1, 2002


>Does the Royal Family actually get money from the
>British Citizens? I thought (could be wrong) that
>they were no longer supported by taxes.

Oh yes we are [sic] - to the tune of some 35m GBP it seems.


Note that the figure refers to spending as the head of state, which means all of the duties of the Queen as the representative of the United Kingdom for diplomatic purposes. Almost half of it is maintenance of national properties allotted to the royal family, such as Buckingham Palace. (The Queen and other Windsors also own property around the country which bring in rent monies and other revenues, and own outright certain other palaces -- Balmoral, Sandringham -- and homes, which aren't supported by taxpayers.) Even if the monarchy were abolished, the head of state functions would be absorbed by a president or other executive structure and many of the expenses would remain. Finally, the expenses are offset by revenue directly from the Crown Estate, which at this point is several times larger than the expenses -- essentially, two centuries ago, the monarch was salaried. This is a very old problem, in many ways.

The UK is, at any rate, still amid the throes of an extremely interesting period of constitutional reform, as part of the Labour programme. They've "devolved" legislative power for Scotland, Wales, and (not entirely coincidentally) Northern Ireland, although each under a separate mechanism; an elected Mayor of London; and now reform of the House of Lords is underway, with some proposals already enacted (in 1999, the number of hereditary peers was slashed from 750 to 92), and others to be decided, all with the goal of making Lords more closely resemble an upper house in a traditional bicameral legislature.

Theoretically the Queen could reverse the delegation of her powers in either legal or practical terms, but in practice this is unlikely -- just as in the US, neither Congress nor the White House wants to see the War Powers Resolution put before the Supreme Court, or Congress will not exercise its constitutional authority to limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The backlash would be tremendous.
posted by dhartung at 7:51 PM on November 1, 2002


The Beeb on the constitutional implications of the Queen's intervention. Cute piece of reporting, quoting three MPs and three peers of the realm.

(Has anyone else noticed the O-level Social Studies house style BBCi affects?)
posted by stinglessbee at 7:38 AM on November 4, 2002


I have just stumbled over this related page in the Guardian's 'Notes & Queries' page - it more or less confirms what we discovered above about the Queen's powers, and the likelihood of refusal toassent to Parliamentary decisions.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:28 PM on November 5, 2002


Nothing to add on the abolition argument, but...

When it comes to tourism, these visitors don't usually get to see the Royals:

Someone tell that to Princess Michael of Kent then, yeah? Everytime I've been in London in the last decade I've managed to see her always-in-need-of-a-roots-touchup-head somewhere -- once coming out of a(n otherwise closed to all hoi polloi) ladies' room at Harrods. :shudder:
posted by Dreama at 10:12 PM on November 5, 2002


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