Should there be Royalty in the U.S.
Debate Rounds (2)
The government of the day, especially the Prime Minister, exercises enormous patronage and exercises considerable power, all in the name of royal prerogative. These powers enable the executive to appoint and dismiss ministers, dissolve parliament [UPDATE: this prerogative was abolished by section 3(2) of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011], grant clemency and pardons, award honours, declare war, declare a state of emergency, sign treaties, issue passports, deport foreign nationals, create universities, designate cities, and to make thousands of appointments. All these powers are exercised with no legislative oversight or control. In the absence of a monarchy, the legitimate authority for these decisions would reside in Parliament, which could choose whether and how to delegate decisions to the executive, and how the executive would be held to account for the exercise of those powers. This alone, in my view, is sufficient reason to want to abolish the monarchy.2. The monarchy has real political power to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister.
In the event of an election which does not produce a decisive result (the likelihood of which is increased by the possibility of electoral reform) the monarch has real powers to decide who should form a government. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth, has been actively involved in determining the appointment of Prime Ministers in 1957, 1963 and 1974. Furthermore, there is precedent for the dismissal of a Prime Minister with an absolute majority: one of my first political memories is the dismissal of Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, by the Governor General of Australia (the representative of the Queen) despite having a clear electoral majority of the lower House. Many Australians believed that they lived in a country in which the outcome of an election determined who would form a government, and were startled to find that the (written) Australian constitution makes no mention of political parties, the Cabinet or of the position of Prime Minister, all of which turned out to be no more than "conventions" by which the Australian Westminster-style democracy operates, just as they are in the UK.3. The monarchy interferes in our day-to-day political life.
Aside from the power to arbitrate the result of an unclear election, the monarchy (and indeed the wider Royal family) exercises real political power. Civil servants produce regular briefings on domestic and foreign policy for the Queen and other royals. The Prime Minister has a weekly meeting with the Queen to discuss current policy issues (NB in a telling piece of Palace jargon, this is an audience of the Queen, not with the Queen), and Government Departments regularly receive requests for briefings on specific issues from the Queen and other senior royals. The royals are not getting all these briefings " over and above what they can read in the newspapers " out of idle curiousity. They see it is as their legitimate role to influence government policy (as Bagehot said, "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn"). It is no secret Prince Charles and his staff have had protracted discussions with civil servants and ministers on policy issues such as environment, architecture, nanotechnology andagriculture.
4. The monarchy perpetuates the class system and undermines the proper recognition of merit.
There is not much wrong with Britain that isn"t the fault, one way or another, of the class system. At the apex of the system is our hereditary Head of State, Governor of the Church of England, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and head of the Judiciary (all one person!). Until we turn our back on hereditary power at the top of our political, military and religious institutions, we have little chance of shaking off the mentality of a society defined by class. Growing up in Britain, every child (but one) knows that they could never become Head of State, simply by virtue of being born to the wrong family.
5. The monarchy undermines our reputation abroad and is bad for business (even tourism).
The antics of our royal family certainly evoke an amused interest among foreigners. But the pomp and pageantry of Royalty project Britain as a theme park of Beefeaters, castles and soldiers in bearskins. In short, most foreigners see our royals as we see the King of Swaziland. This is a public relations disaster for our (economically important) efforts to project Britain as a modern democracy, with commercial strengths in modern sectors such as financial services, biotech and new technologies. The Royal Family does not convey the brand that our high-tech exporters want to project. If we want young people from around the world to come to our universities, or international investors to put their money into our businesses, we need to offer more than a quaint history. It is sometimes argued that royalty is good for tourism: but France has been a republic for over 130 years and attracts three times as many foreign tourists as Britain. The Palace of Versailles, which is the biggest tourist attraction in Europe, has more visitors than Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace combined, in part because it is fully open to the public, all year round. The British nation"s royal art collectionsand memorabilia, currently hidden from us by the monarchy, could behoused in galleries that would be a huge boost to tourism, both from within the UK and from abroad.6. The monarchy makes it impossible to separate Church and State
One reason why we still have an established church in England, which discriminates in favour of one religion above all others, is the difficulty of disconnecting the two while the Queen is Head of both Church and State. This is a piece of religious discrimination which is a dangerous anachronism in a multi-cultural, mainly secular society.
The debate isn's about wether "Should there be Royalty IN CHARGE of the U.S.", but "Should there be Royalty IN the U.S." I see no reason why the Queen of England can't visit us, so yes, there should be Royalty in the U.S.
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