The art of constitutional monarchy
You write so beautifully about the Queen, and governing ourselves. Thank you.
I really appreciated your articulation of why the monarchy works especially in “accommodating the full spectrum of human nature” and how it diverts “our loopiness into a safe space”. I think your words gave the best form I’ve come across to what I was already feeling. And the anecdote about the Queen, Dr Nott and the corgis is just touchingly beautiful.
My wife is a staunch republican, Japanese Korean by birth (think Pachinko!). Admittedly this unusual group has good reasons to have to be suspicious of monarchic systems given their experiences under the rulers of Japan and the ongoing co-option of the Japanese royal family by racist nationalists.
But her reasons are less that or indeed the “being landed with a bad egg” argument.
Rather, human rights are really important to her and she sees our system as denying basic human rights to the monarch and their heirs. i.e. they are born in circumstances where to all intents their life choice has suppressed at birth. Or we could say that there is great stress involved regaining those rights (Edward VIII, Prince Harry?). My wife appreciates the benefits of we enjoy, as explained in the piece, but to gain them we engage in something that is almost akin to a ritual, medieval sacrifice the human rights of a new-born. Morally, do we have the right to to do this?
I do find this angle hard to ignore.
So I wonder if there’s way whereby, we could keep the benefits and the blood line of the monarchy intact while restating their rights. e.g. the heir(s) to throne might be offered the choice to walk away peacefully at the age of 21 leaving the next in line to choose. May be this is just my loopiness coming out!
Either way, you get the feeling that with such a mechanism the Queen would made the same speech at the age of 21 committing herself to the path she took.
Thanks again for the thought-provoking piece
“Citizens”, you say? But we are, in fact, “subjects” of our new “Leige lord” King Charles 3rd. Is our constitutional monarchy preferable to the republican constitutions of, for example, Ireland or Germany? I guess it’s academic in the sense that this country, having executed one monarch and declared itself a republic, decided it preferred monarchy. I find this whole spectacle pretty nauseating, but recognise that most Britons feel differently. Maybe explains why - if we see ourselves as subjects - we settle for less than the citizens of other developed nations. But many people are drawn to the majesty, mystery, tradition and spectacle of monarchy and you capture that well. Beautifully written as usual.
Love this piece. A thread is now broken. It feels like a lot was suspended from it. She owes us nothing and even I will miss her.
Well written as always. As an American, the monarchy is fundamentally alien to us. While Thomas Paine’s characterization of George III as “the principal ruffian of some restless gang” may have been a bit over the top, as an ex subject of that majesty, he was troubled by the implication that kings were divinely appointed to rule over the rest. Still, the Crown retains a grip on our collective imagination. News media here trawled for pictures of our Presidents with her Majesty and they seemed mundane by contrast. We haven’t quite gotten over what we rejected almost two hundred and fifty years ago.