Rah-Rah Rupert wrote:Our little Royal family is the Head of State in about 16 countries, from Antigua to Papua New Guinea, which is pretty good if you ask me.
Does that mean that in theory, she can overule the decisions made by democratically elected governments in those 16 countries? Sounds rather dictatorial to me. I know she doesn't run around closing down parliament and dismissing elected ministers, but she and other monarchs retains the power to do so. It is only 33 years since the elected Australian prime minister and his government was sacked in the name of the queen (who is sovereign Down Under, too) in a constitutional crisis referred to as The Dismissal. Here, Britain’s Royal Prerogative permits the executive – the cabinet or even just the prime minister – to take action without the backing of parliament, much less by consulting the people. The British monarch has the right to dissolve parliament and to choose any parliamentarian to set up a ruling cabinet. The fact that one unelected person is invested with such extraordinary powers is a massive snub to the idea and practice of popular democracy.
I agree with you that the current monarch, Elizabeth 2 is a wonderful asset to the nation. She's a fantastic spokesman, diplomat, representative (at least ceremonially, thankfully not politically) and she's the kind of nice old lady that you would love to have as your granny. My problem is with the hereditary system which is integral to monarchy. When the queen dies, she will be succeeded by Prince Charles - not on merit, not on ability, certainly not on popular consent - but purely because he is his mother's son and the slobbering dauphin will become the head of state, head of the armed forces and head of the church. When Charles becomes king there will be a big rise in republican sentiment i'm sure. Having a nice, old lady as your ceremonial ruler is ok, but that changes when the crown is on the head of a grumpy, irrational, opinionated, regressive, ugly, middle aged man with no taste in women and an unhealthy obsession with talking to plants. And there is no guarentee one day we may get a real nasty bitch/bastard - another Mary, another King John, purely because of hereditary principle.
Saying they are a tourist attraction is a red herring. The worst thing imaginable is feudalistic hereditary principle cowith celebrity culture. It's like going to North Korea to see statues of Kim il Sung. Think briefly of the national anthem - no mention of the country, it's people, it's culture, it's achievments, it's values - just 'all praise the glorious leader'. Why invoke the power of an imaginary deity to bail out these unelected spongers?
People's main argument against republicanism is 'oh i don't want a politician, i don't want president blair etc'. But at least you get to fucking choose! Why do will still cling on to the idea that greatness follows bloodline. Some of the greatest figures in political history have come from humble backgrounds- Jeffersson, Lincoln, Aneurin Bevan to name a handful.
Another argument is that it costs the same to put up a president in a palace etc as a monarch. This I wholly agree with. I find it very interesting how France famously and violently annihilated it's monarchy for being decadent, distant and ostentatious. Yet the official residence of the Frenchg President is still the Palace of Versailles - the very symbol of pre-revolutionary monarchical opulence, decadence and distance. I'm not saying demolish Versailles or Windsor Castle (purely for their aesthetic quality). Just give the president a more modest, appropriate office for an elected representative.
Nepal very recently deposed it's monarchy and established itself as a republic in what was in my mind, one of the greatest days for democracy since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It shows what democracy is all about - having influence over the decisions that affect their lives. But how can a nations people (let alone a proxy-empire of 16 nations) have any real sense of constitutional power when one, unelected person retains the power to dismiss their representatives, declare war and summon and dismiss parliament on a whim?