The destiny of the British monarchy

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The destiny of the British monarchy

Dating back over ten centuries, the Monarchy plays an important role in the UK and Commonwealth.

The Queen is supported in her work by members of the Royal Family, who carry out a huge range of public duties.

The British monarch or Sovereign is the head of state of the United Kingdom and in the British overseas territories. The British monarch is also head of state of fifteen other countries, all of which were once part of the British Empire—these, together with the UK, are known as the Commonwealth Realms. The current British monarchy can trace its ancestral lineage back to the Anglo-Saxon period, and ultimately back to the kings of the Angles. During the ninth century, Wessex came to dominate other kingdoms in England, especially as a result of the extinction of rival lines in England during the First Viking Age, and during the tenth century England was consolidated into a single realm. The English and Scots crowns were united in the person of a single monarch in 1603 when James VI of Scots acceded to the throne of England. The kingdoms themselves were joined in the Acts of Union 1707, to form Great Britain.

The powers of the monarchy, known as the Royal Prerogative, are still very extensive. Most prerogative powers are exercised not by the monarch personally, but by ministers acting on his or her behalf; examples such as the power to regulate the civil service and the power to issue passports. Some major powers are exercised nominally by the monarch herself, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and according to constitutional convention. An example is the power to dissolve Parliament. According to a parliamentary report,[1] "The Crown cannot invent new prerogative powers".

It has long been established in the uncodified Constitution of the United Kingdom that political power is ultimately exercised by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, of which the Sovereign is a non-partisan component, along with the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and by the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Thus, as the modern British monarchy is a constitutional one, the Sovereign's role is in practice limited to non-partisan functions (such as being the fount of honour). This role has been recognised since the 19th century; Walter Bagehot identified the monarchy as the "dignified part" rather than the "efficient part" of government in The English Constitution (1867). In practice, political power is exercised today through Parliament and by the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The sovereign also holds the title of Supreme Governor of the established Church of England, although in practice the spiritual leadership of the Church is the responsibility of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The present sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since February 6, 1952. The heir apparent is her eldest son, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Rothesay. The Prince of Wales undertakes various public ceremonial functions, as does the queen's husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. There are several other members of Royal Family besides those aforementioned, including the Queen's other children, grandchildren and cousins.

The British monarch is also Head of the Commonwealth, and the same person is also separately monarch of 15 other Commonwealth Realms; each nation—including the UK—being sovereign and independent of the others.

Monarchists often argue that the without the monarchy the UK would be doomed. Either our tourism industry would collapse, we'd suffer political instability, or our national identity would disappear.In the first half of the 20th Century one part of the UK did become a republic - Ireland. It gained its independence from the UK and replaced the monarch with an elected head of state.Far from the ridiculous claims of the monarchists, Ireland has prospered. Its economic growth puts Britain to shame.The Irish have not lost their national pride or identity - instead they've managed to export their culture and brands around the world.Ireland has not ended up as a dictatorship - it is a healthy democracy.Tourism to Ireland has boomed, despite the rather wet climate. And it has managed to shake of its role as a largely agricultural part of the UK to become a forward-looking high tech economy, attracting companies like Dell and Google.More recently, the Economist decided that Ireland was the best place in the world to live.Monarchists make many ridiculous claims about how our society, culture and prosperity will suffer as a republic, but this is not supported by the facts - the only part of the UK to have become a democratic republic has prospered.

From before the days of the the early Saxon Kings the story of the British monarchy has always been a turbulent one. The modern monarchy has one of the longest recorded genealogies in Europe, due to the tradition of the succession.

Until the time of Alfred the Great there were no unifying forces on mainland Britain, with local chieftains and 'kings' ruling regions mainly by force of arms. Thanks to the unifying attempts by Alfred, Edgar was later crowned as the first King of England in 973.

After the Norman invasion of England in 1066 England remained relatively united until 1541 when Ireland was also put under the rule of English King Henry VIII.

Upon Henry's daughter Queen Elizabeth I's death in 1603 the succession passed to James I of England (James VI of Scotland) when English, Irish and Scottish kingdoms became united and the foundations of the modern monarchy were laid.

If a Monarchy is the figurehead of a nation, then that nation must be either homogenous, or oppressed. It is accepted across the western world that 'The people' should be able to choose; they choose their governments directly, through elections, and they choose their international ambassadors indirectly, by choosing the government. To maintain that that is right, but that the ultimate international ambassador - the Monarch - should be hereditary is, at best, entirely inconsistent.

Use of a hereditary monarch reinforces the long abandoned principle that some people are either better, or else are more entitled to a better life, merely due to the condition of their birth. Not only this, but it also relies entirely on the mathmatically impossible hope that time after time, it will produce capable holders of the position. Ultimately, the genetic lottery breaks down, and a truly hopeless monarch is guaranteed - when that happens in an elected system, the holder of the post can be easily removed by the ballot box. In a system with a hereditary monarch, the only option involves marching on the palace with weapons. This cannot be a desirable situation. Yet if marching on the palace is rejected, we are left with a simple choice - have a Head of State who is hopeless at their job, or a Head of State from whom almost all their duties are kept. This is equally undesirable.

The simple statement "Abolishment of the British monarchy" does not in any way suggest a system for replacing them; any arguments against 'President Blair' are simple nonsense, as not only does he effectively hold that position anyway at the head of Government, but there is no necessary reason that a Republic would have the head of the Executive as the Head of State. The Finnish system has the Prime Minister responsible for internal affairs, and the President responsible for foreign affairs. The French system splits duties between the President and Prime Minister. The Irish system gives all authority to the Prime Minister, and the President is a figurehead much in the model of the British monarch - but one chosen by the Irish people. Two seven year terms gives longer to acquire experience than the terms of many monarchs, and they ensure that the people approve of that person continuing to do their job. Any position of authority that does not involve a choice is an affront to human dignity; a position which allows them to claim ownership of a modern nation is sickening.



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