The BBC tonight debated the viability of The Monarchy over the next fifty years.
June 12, 2002 2:51 PM   Subscribe

The BBC tonight debated the viability of The Monarchy over the next fifty years. In a viewers vote, the mood seemed to be that yes, it isn't perfect, but it's preferable to having an elected President as your head of state ... America, discuss.
posted by feelinglistless (30 comments total)
couldn't the uk work after just removing the queen? i didn't think the monarch would really need to be replaced by someone else... maybe i don't understand how the system works as well as i thought. i mean you'd still have a prime minister.
posted by rhyax at 3:06 PM on June 12, 2002

America, discuss.

Well.......I tend to be skeptical about royalty, for what I think are obvious reasons. At this point in history, the continued existence of hereditary royalty indicates selfishness by all parties involved-- the royals, who accept a life of complete gratuitous physical comfort while many of their subjects don't have enough, and the subjects who expect the royals to live as virtual house-pets for them. Mark Twain suggested the Brits get themselves some cats, which would do pretty much whatever royals did-- sleep, eat, fight, and have sex-- but be much cheaper to maintain. And I'll bet they could be trained to cut the ribbons at bridge and museum openings, using some sort of paw-attachment perhaps, or maybe a set of pulleys and levers attached to a weighted platform upon which would be placed a dead bird or mouse or some catnip to lure Their Royal Majesties onto it, thus setting off the contraption and activating the royal shears.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:13 PM on June 12, 2002

Mmm... poll taken right after the Queen gives back a little of that money the taxpayers gave her. I love how things are done in the UK.
posted by geoff. at 3:13 PM on June 12, 2002

I actually like the UK's system of having a head of state and a head of government. It allows the true leader (the head of government) to do the nasty, political and unglamourous policy things that need to get done without having to worry as much about filling a celebrity role.

Really...would any US president be able to participate in such red hot debates in front of Congress, and still survive the polls? Because they royals are seen as idols, it allows the prime ministers to be seen as regular ol' people who happen to run the country.
posted by jennak at 3:14 PM on June 12, 2002

the royals aren't seen as idols, certainly not to the majority of brits anyway.

to me they're in the same category as any other tourist attraction. more like the Grand Canyon than anything else.

prince philip (the queen's hubby) is the shameful, hilarious and embarassing uncle that shows up at most family gatherings. so he's worth reading about in the papers anyway.
posted by selton at 3:34 PM on June 12, 2002

As a Canadian the monarchy pisses me off because they keep visiting us and we foot the bill. Welfare for billionaires disturbs me.
posted by srboisvert at 3:38 PM on June 12, 2002

It'll be interesting to see how attitudes to the monarchy changes as devolution continues to loosen the ties between England and the subject nations. Once Wales and Scotland have their own (elected) heads of state, and the myth of Brittania is finally allowed to deflate, will England still want to hang on to the trappings of its vanished Empire?
posted by ceiriog at 3:48 PM on June 12, 2002

> Mmm... poll taken right after the Queen gives back a
> little of that money the taxpayers gave her. I love how
> things are done in the UK.

Errrr, it was a TV debate. AFAIK only American TV stations influenced who their current head of state is.
posted by vbfg at 3:51 PM on June 12, 2002

Yes, but the people who just got money from the queen are biased...

Anyway, doesn't the monarchy sort of give you a standard of quality? I mean, whoever you wind up with, you know they've been training basically their entire lives to be head of state.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 3:56 PM on June 12, 2002

So if people received money from the queen and they're the kind of people inclined to ring premium rate telephone numbers to take part in TV phone-in polls then some of those people may still be in profit and the poll has been unfairly skewed in the queen's favour.

posted by vbfg at 4:06 PM on June 12, 2002

rhyax, the Queen is head of state, which means little in practice (some ceremonial functions) but has important constitutional implications. In the US the head of state is also the head of government: the President. In parliamentary democracies that are not constitutional monarchies, the head of state is typically the position of President, which is separate from the position of Prime Minister. This head of state has responsibility for some of the same formal and ceremonial functions, and varying amounts of responsibility for constitutional continuity of government, such as calling for elections or designating parties to form a parliamentary majority, i.e. a government.

To eliminate the monarchy pretty much requires the creation of a new position like President as noted above.

In terms of what will affect ordinary Britons, I suspect that removing the monarchy is much less important than, for instance, the constitutional reform trend toward making the House of Lords a true, representative upper house. IMHO the British monarchy is full of inertial pomp and circumstance far in excess of even the acknowledged importance of the role they play (I think some of this is an overreaction against the delegitimating influence of Edward's abdication). Following the more reserved examples of the other remaining monarchs would be my recommendation. This is happening gradually anyway -- the decommissioning of the royal yacht was probably a key moment.
posted by dhartung at 4:10 PM on June 12, 2002

Talk to me when we have an elected president as our head of state.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 4:10 PM on June 12, 2002

Since government would essentially go on as usual in NZ without the royalty, I can't see the point of going to the trouble of getting rid of them.

Instead of a govenor general appointed by the govt, we'd have a "president", presumably appointed by the govt. There woundn't be much point having an election for a role that doesn't actually involve much governing at all.

Leave the royals be. They're good fun.
posted by Foaf at 4:25 PM on June 12, 2002

This comparison is bullshit since the British monarchy has no executive power. Its entire influence and existence rests on its popularity.
posted by azazello at 4:32 PM on June 12, 2002

I believe I just heard something the other day that affirmed that the amount of tourism dollars (pounds) earned every year in Britain based on the Royals more than makes up for any expenses laid out by the state to support them. So from a purely financial standpoint, losing them may be a negative thing in the short/long term.
posted by kokogiak at 4:45 PM on June 12, 2002

Without the Royals would England be more, or less dull?
posted by semmi at 5:58 PM on June 12, 2002

You must either live there or have never been to England in your life, semmi
posted by Foaf at 6:20 PM on June 12, 2002

If the royal family were removed, who would own all the land? The government? Or would the 99 year leases be extended indefinitely?
posted by benjh at 6:23 PM on June 12, 2002

...America, discuss.

respectfully - UK, blow me. we answered that question to our own satisfaction 226 years ago...
posted by anser at 7:21 PM on June 12, 2002

right fucking on!
posted by pekar wood at 7:31 PM on June 12, 2002

I don't know about the situation in the UK, but as an Australian, I was hugely disappointed in 1999 when the majority of my country voted NOT to become a Republic. Australia, being a small and relatively young country, is still finding its place in the world, and I believe making the declaration that 'yes, we are our own, independent nation' would have been a great symbolic step towards asserting our indentity.

America fought a bloody war to gain independence; we Aussies don't even have the guts to say 'yes' when presented with a simple, peaceful vote. It's a great shame.
posted by claire at 7:53 PM on June 12, 2002

Claire, it wasn't that simple as the question posed was loaded so that it fails.

The question was:

Do you agree with "A proposed law to alter the constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a Republic with the Queen and Governor General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of members of the Commonwealth Parliament?"

I believe the majority of Australians said that, no, we do not want our government to choose our head of state, not no we do not want a republic.

By the way, i voted yes, only because i thought it's a step in the right direction.
posted by Zool at 9:42 PM on June 12, 2002

You must either live there or have never been to England in your life, semmi

Foaf:Is there another option?
posted by semmi at 10:19 PM on June 12, 2002

As another Australian (we're all coming out of the woodwork, suddenly) I was also dissapointed that the YES vote didn't win, because the choice presented to us was the RIGHT's important to separate the head of state from the head of government. The present situation where the prime minister does the dirty work and the governor general shakes hands and signs bills works well, except for the 11/11/75 debacle.

I also like the current situation where the governor general is (well..pretty much) a credible, intelligent, respected person because they're chosen by parliament. Unlike the US, where any old numb-nuts can get the job, as long as they've got money, and unlike the UK where the head of state is only there because a distant ancestor fought someone else so many hundreds of years ago. I just don't like being connected to Britain and their inbred royals, and the republic choice as offered at the referendum was just about the most reasonable choice available. I wouldn't EVER want to see US-style presidential races run in Australia - the head of state should be a respected citizen, not a baby-kissing popularist.
posted by Jimbob at 10:28 PM on June 12, 2002

Not surprisingly, the whole Republican issue has flared up again a little in Australia.

<shameless self-promotion>

I wrote an entry linking to some other Aus blog entries here.

posted by robcorr at 12:38 AM on June 13, 2002

srboisvert, could you enlighten me on the relationship between Canada and the UK. Australia too for that matter. Are you not independant nations now, or still attached in some way.
This has been confusing me for some time now.
posted by a3matrix at 4:59 AM on June 13, 2002

Don't get me wrong, the whole world should be thankful that Britain is a monarchy. It has kept them weak, and it doomed their Empire. A British Republic would arguably have been one of the 20th century's most terrible villains, with bare-knuckle politicians outdoing each other in defense of a tottering world dominion. (The US has done badly enough with the tag-ends inherited in 1946.)

If the UK ever actually does something about the monarchy, its global irrelevance will be officially confirmed.
posted by anser at 8:27 AM on June 13, 2002


Queen Elizabeth is considered the Monarch of Canada in protocol terms, and technically this position is different from her position as Queen of England.

It is largely a ceremonial role, but it does permeate through much of our society. For instance, in court cases the government is referred to as "The Crown". We have Crown Corporations (agencies owned by the government, but not quite government departments).

IMHO, it's a unique part of Canadian society and does little harm. As for footing the bill for the Royals when they visit, it should be noted that the government picks up the tab (or portions thereof) whenever foreign leaders visit Canada.

From the Royal Website:

The 1953 Royal Titles Act reflected the fact that The Queen is equally Queen of each of her Realms, acting on the advice of her Ministers in each realm; legislation on the royal title was to be enacted by each country separately, allowing The Queen to adopt a title suitable to the circumstances of the country concerned with a common element, symbolising the role of the Sovereign as a unifying factor in the Commonwealth. Each title therefore includes a reference to The Queen's other Realms and Territories, and also her title as Head of the Commonwealth. The words 'Defender of the Faith' are also included in the styles and titles used by The Queen in Canada and New Zealand.
posted by smcniven at 8:35 AM on June 13, 2002

The important issue for the UK isn't whether or not to have a monarch: there's an irony in the fact that primogeniture, even with male precedence, leads to more female heads of state than the elective principle. And monarchy hasn't held back places like the Netherlands and much of Scandinavia from social reform. The real need is for a new constitutional framework that prevents Tony, his heirs and successors from getting away with all sorts of liberties under the aegis of 'crown prerogative'. It's because of this that the PM has much greater powers than any US president.
posted by riviera at 9:31 AM on June 13, 2002

I saw the queen today.
She's really tiny.

When she dies we get a week off work, so I say keep 'em.
posted by fullerine at 11:04 AM on June 13, 2002

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