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Why does the UK have royalty?

Discussion in 'European Politics' started by dust1n, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. dust1n

    dust1n Zindīq

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    Okay, I never really understood this. What does the Queen do? Is it tax money that makes her family unbelievably wealthy or do they work in business. Why is the Queen still around, does it seem a little ridiculous?
     
  2. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    It makes the commoners feel better about their own teeth.
     
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  3. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    Tradition. Tourism. A living symbol of national unity who is beyond politics.
    A treat for foreign dignitaries -- being invited to dinner at Buckingham Palace has a cachet that being invited to dinner at 10 Downing Street or the White House just doesn't have.

    At various times the personal qualities of different monarchs have been greatly admired, too. The Queen's parents were much admired for their courage during World War II, and the Queen herself served in the WATS (sort of like the WACS) as a truck driver and mechanic during the War. She's also been noted for her devotion to duty above all else, and it must be said she works pretty hard at one of the most mind-numbingly boring jobs I've ever heard of, which includes, besides keeping up tabs on everything going on in the country and government (at which she spends a great deal of her time), standing around making small talk with an endless stream of visitors, diplomats, heads of state, and whatever assorted riff-raff the government wants to impress. I don't know how the woman does it, much less how she's managed to do it over and over and over again for almost sixty years. I'd say she earns her keep.

    Whether the younger generations will manage to pull it off with quite the same dignity and style is another question.

    I always liked the late Sir Steven Runciman's reply when asked whether he thought Prince Charles or Prince William should succeed the Queen: "I am a monarchist, and as a monarchist, it is my considered opinion that the Queen should live forever."

    (Sir Steven always had something good to say. When asked about Edward VIII, who "gave up his throne for love," Sir Steven said that in his opinion, if one is lucky enough to have a throne, one falls in love with someone suitable.)
     
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  4. dust1n

    dust1n Zindīq

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    That seems like a good summary. Does she serve any other governmental functions? Could should even be corrupt, for example? Does she control anything?
     
  5. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    If they really cared about the tradition, then a Bavarian Duke would be sitting on the British throne. Britons rejected the idea that heredity should matter more than merit in 1688... and then spent several centuries forgetting that they made that decision.

    The monarchy is an anachronism. Elizabeth herself seems like a nice enough person, but when she finally passes on, so should her office.
     
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  6. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    Nominally, the Queen is the head of the government. Officially, parliament requires the Monarch's consent to function.
     
  7. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Come to think of it, why not? It does bring a nice element of continuity between Prime Ministers, which is probably desirable. For a while now, they seem content to serve administrative / cerimonial functions and leave the actual ruling to elected oficials, which is more than many non-Monarchies have.

    It ain't broke, so...
     
  8. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    You get that with one single representative. Where's the justification for an entire royal family, all suckling at the public teat?

    It is broke. The monarchy is a drain, a waste, and a symbolic flipping of the bird to the ideals of democracy. And at the very least, there's the whole church-state separation issue of having a country's head of state also being the head of the country's official religion, which IMO needs to be resolved somehow. One way to get rid of the conflict is to relieve the person of at least one of those offices.
     
  9. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    The best excuse I've heard for the royals is they are in a position to set the standard for the rest of the nation concerning many matters. For instance, a royal can call attention to the depravity that is box architecture and insist on something better. The argument goes they will set higher standards for the nation than would otherwise be set by the nation's politicians. I don't know whether any of that works in practice though.
     
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  10. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess
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    It's also a huge part of England's history, culture and identity. Not something too easy to discard.
     
  11. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    Heh... a huge part of England's history, culture and identity is inexorably tied up in discarding kings and queens. :D
     
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  12. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    I don't think "merit" is the right word. William and Mary were preferred to James II not for their great merit, but for their Protestantism. And part of the deal was that they got to enjoy less power than monarchs had before.

    Personally, though, I think Duke Franz would make a perfectly acceptable king, and I'd find it easier to be enthusiastic about Princess Sophie and her children than about Prince Charles and his. But there's no use crying over spilled milk.
     
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  13. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    Well, she's not my queen, so it's not my business, but if it were, I'd much prefer to disestablish the Church than the Queen. ;)
     
  14. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    She has a lot of government functions, but not any real power.

    When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was a book of English history that had been printed during the reign of Victoria. (Actually, I still have it.) It pointed out that the last sovereign to veto a bill of Parliament had been Queen Anne, and said that if the Queen were presented with her own death warrant she would be obliged to sign it.
     
  15. sandandfoam

    sandandfoam Veteran Member

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    It's kind of like an upmarket version of 'Big Brother' crossed with Coronation Street.
     
  16. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    Maybe not; maybe "the qualities of a monarch" would've been a better way of putting it.

    ... which those who put them in power considered to be meritorious.

    Also, from the accounts I've read, Charles was a pretty crappy king overall. The nobility's problem with him just wasn't his Catholicism.

    But they still got to be monarchs.

    But that's the thing: the only reason that Elizabeth and her family get to be in the position they are is heredity, not merit or anything else. If their claim to the throne is based on not much of anything when you get right down to it, then why keep them?

    Once they don't have the bloodline going for them, the only relevant question is whether things would be better with or without a monarchy.
     
  17. kai

    kai ragamuffin

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    Hey you get rid of handguns and we will get rid of the Monarchy?
     
  18. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    We already did. Your turn. :p

    And she's our queen, too. The rest of the royal circus may not have standing under Canadian law, but she does.
     
  19. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Oldest Heretic

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    The best reason for maintaining the monarchy is the alternative... we might have to have a president.


    In terms of wealth ... The royal family gave up a large majority of their lands, possessions and wealth and freedom from taxes, in exchange for an annual income. Had they kept them, they would be amongst the wealthiest families in the world.

    Even then they are far cheaper as an option than a President.

    As head of state of 16 countries the queen still has a number of powers, she is the final court of appeal for many of them, though rarely is called upon. she is head of the Church of England and also head of the armed forces and the Government. civil service and Law offices. She is still consulted weekly on government business by the prime minister in person. Se meets with the privy council on all matters of state. She has residual powers over all these offices.

    In Practise she appoints Prime ministers gives and receives advice, but never takes an active part in "politics"

    She subsidises the cost of running the households and her official functions out of her own wealth.

    Perhaps the royal family should have hung on to their lands and wealth and abdicated, they would be much better off today.
     
  20. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    That's not the only alternative.

    For instance, imagine an office like that of Governor-General with a fixed term, only appointed by Parliament. He or she could fulfil the governmental functions currently performed by the monarch.

    The obvious advantage to this system is that you would then only be paying for one individual rather than a whole host of assorted relatives as well.

    Yes... the royal family has grown fat off the people for a long, long time. Should we be happy with the fact that they chose not to grow as fat as they could have done?

    How do you figure? Are you talking about real monetary cost, or are you referring to some more nebulous cost to society of losing the "value" of a monarchy?

    Though shouldn't those countries' governance be their own concern? If, say, Australia decides to become a republic, this doesn't mean that the UK must as well, or vice versa. Even if Britain decides to no longer be a monarchy, the other countries are still within their rights to consider Elizabeth their queen if they so choose.

    And in her position as head of the Church of England, she is in a direct conflict of interest with her role as head of the armed forces and the government.

    Wait... it seems like you're arguing two contrary positions:

    - the Queen is an important part of the government, so government would be worse off without her.
    - the Queen has no real power, so getting rid of the monarchy would be a lot of bother for negligible benefit.

    Which is it?

    I "subsidize" the cost of my house and parties from my own wealth, too. I've even supplied the food when my non-profit board has met at my house in the past. Does that make me equally worthy of praise?

    Ah... but the question is whether they had a right to those lands and wealth in the first place.
     
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