To explain what the royals are for

Here’s one attempt:

The royal biographer Robert Lacey argues that the job of the monarch is to represent common values, and he believes that the Queen was ahead of her time in championing equality and diversity around the Commonwealth. He also thinks that Charles will do the same.

No, that isn’t it.

We need someone to pin the Victoria Cross on people. Or, if you’re not into that military stuff, the George Cross.

There needs to be – every society ever has had one and it’s unlikely we’ll ever have a society that doesn’t – someone, some thing, somewhere, that is unarguably the bit that confers that societal approbation.

Yes, yes, sure, Ks and all that, Baronies, they’re tied up with politics and so scheming scum end up with them. Leaving even that aside how much of an honour is a peerage now Prem has one?

But every society does have that stuff right at the top, the stuff that really is only handed out on pure, unadulterated merit. So, who should hand it out?

A largely inbred German duchess seems a reasonable enough compromise. It’s vastly better than the likely alternative, President John Prescott. No, the distaste for that is not because Prescott, but because that’s how any system of political selection would work. It would be someone from the political class, it would be someone who has climbed that greasy pole but who is, undoubtedly, a second rater. Among the current crop you could see Dianne Abbott running for it, Harriett would certainly have a try, Gavin Williamson anyone? Because that is what politics would throw up.

And, you know, given that the job is to pin the VC on people what might not be quite what we desire. Not entirely, not quite, because they’re all idiots but because the method of their getting there would mean they weren’t quite the person for the job. For anyone who has spent the necessary life in politics to get elected President shouldn’t be within 50 miles of the honour of a GC.

Far better to leave it to the lucky sperm club.

29 thoughts on “To explain what the royals are for”

  1. It would be someone from the political class, it would be someone who has climbed that greasy pole but who is, undoubtedly, a second rater.

    That’s a perfect description of the whole EU setup, except perhaps for some MEPs.

  2. As the political class is roundly despised I believe one of our “National Treasures” is far more likely. Attenborough is too old and Rowling has blotted her copybook so it would probably be a luvvie. All hail President Judi Dench?

  3. Seeing as we know more about the genetics and culture that makes people of good breeding than ever before, surely a ranking list could be compiled, and the person at the top gets to be monarch. The tabula rasa people would go ape, and that would be worth seeing for the idea alone.

    Obvs if implemented this could mean asking permission to import some high IQ family from Scandinavia or Japan. Dr Keith Brownlee would get a high score from these islands.
    Repeat every two hundred years or so.

  4. @Bongo… Imagine the snowflake frenzy if said “electee” turned out to be Jordan Peterson.. 🙂

  5. Last night I had a dream that Her Majesty and Gillian Anderson came to my dinner party and everything was going swimmingly until Elizabeth archly upbraided me for some unkind remarks I’d made about Prince Andrew on social media.

    Absolute nonce sense.

    Anyway, Equality and Diversity aren’t common values. They’re not even values. They’re part-shibboleth, part-fetish-totem brandished with infinite insincerity by the institutional class (a fatwa apon them).

    The Royal Family’s Halfrican adventure has brought them nothing but misery and cringe, with the promise of eternal embarrassment in future now that there’s a couple of tiny hostages involved.

    Not because Black Meg’s whiter than I am in summer, but because she’s an ageing BPD Narcissist slapper with a fanny like the Blackwall Tunnel and a mouth to match.

    Harry would’ve been infinitely better off marrying a nice-but-dim blonde 22 year old third cousin, but obviously he’s a weak character with unresolved Mummy issues.

    And call me old fashioned, but the only way the monarchy can retain legitimacy is by extricating ancient weapons from igneous rocks or crushing the miserable French in pitched battle.

  6. Have I told you of my whizzo scheme for reforming the House of Lords?

    You chuck out judges and bishops, admit all the hereditary peers, and let the Life Peers elect 92 of their own to sit on the red benches. Done – smaller, more representative, almost certainly less corrupt, and an agile use of the lucky sperm club.

    I might have suggested abolishing it but having witnessed a unicameral parliament in Scotland I think not.

    If the price of this merry wheeze is to pass a law that inherited titles go by primogeniture irrespective of sex, even a feminist objection is answered.

  7. Princes Philip, Charles, William (and Harry) all served in the armed forces. This gives them more authority than most of our political class to pin medals.

  8. A Constitutional Monarchy supposedly exists not for the power it has, but for the power it denies others. All the levers of power are held in trust by the Monarch who by custom, tradition and Constitution will not use them unilaterally but only on the ‘advice’ of Ministers who (allegedly) are accountable to the People.

    A coup in the UK, particularly one which would remove the Monarchy, could really only happen with the Monarch’s consent.

    Of course the coup did happen and the Monarch consented, making Monarchy irrelevant, when the Queen signed into Law Parliamentary Bills and ratified treaties which removed those levers of power out of the hands of the Monarch and sent them to Brussels.

    Pinning medals is just an add-on and by now all that is left, because once the political cartel got the power away from the Monarchy, they hung onto it – witness last 12 months. What exactly has the Monarch done to protect the fundamental values of the British People: sovereignty of the individual, life, liberty and right to peaceful enjoyment of property? That supposedly was what the reserve powers are for.

  9. “What exactly has the Monarch done to protect the fundamental values of the British People: sovereignty of the individual, life, liberty and right to peaceful enjoyment of property? That supposedly was what the reserve powers are for.”

    She’s struggling a bit because the British people keep voting for people who are desperate to remove the British People’s rights. What’s she to do, tell the Masses she’s seizing power for their own good? If the Masses keep voting for nasty little national socialists they deserve to get nasty little national socialists and not be rescued from their folly by a benevolent Monarch.

  10. “Princes Philip, Charles, William (and Harry) all served in the armed forces.” As did the Queen, and indeed her father.
    So did Prince Andrew but we don’t mention him any more.

  11. “A largely inbred German duchess seems a reasonable enough compromise”: how can she be largely an inbred German when her mother was Scottish? Or Scottishish, at least.

  12. The Irish and the Germans manage to get respected ceremonial presidents, why is it always automatically assumed we’d get self-serving competent morons?

  13. Blair clearly wanted to be a president. But I always thought he was more suited to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Cherie would have been spun as ecumenical.

  14. Steve,

    “Harry would’ve been infinitely better off marrying a nice-but-dim blonde 22 year old third cousin, but obviously he’s a weak character with unresolved Mummy issues.”

    I don’t think they’d have married him. Harry’s got £10m in the bank, and might be able to open doors. But he’s weak, dim and not particularly attractive. Do you want to spend a large portion of your life with a man like that, or someone with a bit less money, more potential, good looks and wit?

  15. “Princes Philip, Charles, William (and Harry) all served in the armed forces. As did the Queen, and indeed her father.
    So did Prince Andrew but we don’t mention him any more.”

    Even Edward endured two gruelling weeks of Marine training on The Dart.

  16. Jim,

    “She’s struggling a bit because the British people keep voting for people who are desperate to remove the British People’s rights. What’s she to do, tell the Masses she’s seizing power for their own good? If the Masses keep voting for nasty little national socialists they deserve to get nasty little national socialists and not be rescued from their folly by a benevolent Monarch.”

    That rather exposes the fiction of the monarch as some sort of constitutional protector, doesn’t it? If they’re simply going to go along with the democratically elected government, they have no constitutional role.

    So what they do have is a community and ceremonial role. Pinning on the medals, visiting people in hospital after a train crash, turning up in a gold carriage to open parliament. I’m not going to comment on the value of them vs an elected president, but let’s bin this idea that they have any part in protecting us from democracy.

  17. @BoM4

    I think to whatever minor extent it holds true, the “protecting the constitution” bit isn’t so much for the chipping-away kinda stuff that Blair et al have done. More that a British dictator or Quisling would have to live with the indignity and apparent illegitimacy of being denied by the monarch, who’d presumably quit / up sticks / end up with their head the wrong side of a pointy stick. I’m not especially convinced that aforementioned dictator would be fussed about it. (Having said that, collaborationist regimes did often try to make a play of their legitimacy and continuity. But is Britain really likely to be under military occupation in the next century? If it gets that bad, more likely to be under radioactive fall-out I fear.)

  18. MBE,

    “More that a British dictator or Quisling would have to live with the indignity and apparent illegitimacy of being denied by the monarch, who’d presumably quit / up sticks / end up with their head the wrong side of a pointy stick. I’m not especially convinced that aforementioned dictator would be fussed about it.”

    Why do you assume they’d quit? The smart thing would be to cut them a deal. Stay as head of state, maybe drop in some nice things about the Dear Leader, keep cutting ribbons to open hospitals and you get the houses, horses and some cash. Offer Charlie some real power around whatever nonsense he concerns himself with.

    Or do you think these people who won the lottery on jobs are going to risk that?

  19. MyBurningEars
    March 14, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    @BoM4

    who’d presumably quit / up sticks / end up with their head the wrong side of a pointy stick.

    Historically, its pretty rare for that to happen though. Think of the tons of Asian emperors that were captives of their own courts or whatever warlord ran the country – the threat of having to quit or end up on the wrong end of a pointy stick ‘incentivized’ them to provide their legitimacy to that warlord.

    Its happened in the ME, in Europe, etc.

    And even look at your current monarchy – which is perfectly fine to stand silent while your government violates the human rights of its own citizens.

    Similar to how, in the US, Congress has lost most of its control over the Presidency through generations of inaction against every power grab by the Executive – the crown, by not occasionally jerking the chain around the PM’s neck, has lost the ability to reign the government in.

  20. Excavator Man – thank you kindly sir

    BoM4 – I didn’t say she’d be infinitely better off, though plenty of posh girls do plenty worse

  21. @BoM4/@Aggers

    Yeah, it’s a fair point, and maybe my faith is misplaced. But I do think the British royals are rather more likely to play “the long game” than most. I mean they’ve been around for a long time – plenty of their possible international comparators have only had far shorter dynastic histories – and have a pretty decent level of support among the general population, which they wouldn’t want to waste by being seen to support a Quisling-like figure. They certainly weren’t intending to stick around if the Germans had got here, though probably a spare royal would have been found who was deemed malleable/supportive enough to be installed instead. What to do with a leader who comes to power through domestic rather than external means is a different matter, probably more tricky to navigate too. Military coup might get shorter shrift than an elected and popular-but-polarising PM who starts cracking down on opposition parties? The problem with “jerking the chain around the PM’s neck” on the more minor day-to-day stuff is the risk of losing the sense of independence/impartiality of the monarchy which largely cements their current position and popular support. That’s the kind of thing that’s largely left to the courts, and the courts have indeed given successive governments some bloody noses. Lots of Labour and Lib Dem activists would love to have a good crack at getting rid of the monarchy but the party mainstream and leadership recognise it as a fringe position – if the monarch became more explicitly “political”, then the current constitutional arrangement would very soon end up on borrowed time.

  22. My support for a hereditary monarchy has always been down to the fact that it means there is always a head of state there to uphold constitutional norms.
    If you have an elected head of state, then that role can lapse, with the path left open for someone to usurp the constitution. (I’m thinking here of what happened in Germany in 1934, when President von Hindenburg died – the Chancellor, Herr Hitler, simply never got round to holding an election to fill the vacant role, thus leaving the constitution with no one to defend it.)

  23. Our idea of monarchy is very much shaped by Brenda’s approach. And it is an approach. Successful yes, but not every monarch is going to be like her. And if you support monarchy you have to take the good with the bad i.e. charles…but the other problem is one bad one could very easily end it never to return. The institution is supposed to be good for stability but its actually rather precarious. Queen could be gone tomorrow, marbles, health, accident, abdication and the moment that happens everything’s up in the air and all sorts of dodgy reformists will be spouting off.

  24. @Hallowed

    The flip-side of the “only have to be unlucky once” issue is that it enforces a certain discipline and restraint on the monarchy that it wouldn’t on El Prez. Nobody wants to be the monarch who blew it all away. I’m actually a bit surprised they don’t make a bigger play of Canada/Australia which seem likely to become republican eventually, but perhaps they’ve been advised that staying at a distance with the occasional tour is the best way to go about things – building too big a public profile can work against you, even if overwintering in Australia is an otherwise attractive option. (There is also the heavily-encouraged-abdication option to shuffle on those who are making a complete balls of it. So perhaps that buys the Windsors an extra half a chance, even if not the full nine lives.)

  25. And if you support monarchy you have to take the good with the bad i.e. charles…but the other problem is one bad one could very easily end it never to return.

    One point in its favour is that Charles is already 72.

  26. The Irish and the Germans manage to get respected ceremonial presidents, why is it always automatically assumed we’d get self-serving competent morons?

    For a sufficiently small value of ‘respected’. Who can name the German President (without using Google)? Damn few Germans in my experience. And the office still costs almost as much as the House of Windsor, while nobody takes a holiday to Germany in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the President or viewing his homes.

  27. The Irish have a system that has worked unusually well of late, which is to elect people who were second-rate politicians but who were really good (not necessarily first-rate, but highly-regarded) at something else. Their current President is a poet and a second-rate Labour politician; they had Mary Robinson who was various sorts of human rights campaigner / feminist and a second-rate Labour politician, Mary McAleese who was a Catholic canon law expert and a second-rate Fianna Fail politician.

    That would suggest that someone like Michael Portillo or Ed Balls might be an option in Britain. Or perhaps a Lord who is party-political but whose real background is outside of politics. Alan Sugar?

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