The Queen is quite rightly embarking on a year of celebrations to mark her 60 years on the throne.
She has seen off eleven british prime ministers, attended thousand of sporting events, and probably covered every inch of the UK during her reign. Her consistency has been remarkable. Essentially at the beck and call of the government, she hasn’t put a foot wrong whilst those around her – politicians, family members and flunkies have burned in the heat of public admonishment. It would be fair to say that the monarchy in general and Queen Elizabeth in particular has been a steadying hand on the tiller of British politics and politics in the Commonwealth. She has been a constant in a world of revolution and disharmony.
Of course she shouldn’t really be there should she? The monarchy is the cornerstone of aristocracy – the system whereby holding power is hereditary and the elite maintain themselves through control of Law, Church and State. The royal family is at the apex of this class system. When Hitler talked of the thousand year reich, he could well have been looking across the channel to England, where many of the most powerful families can trace their fortunes back to William the Conqueror. Whilst many of the trappings of aristocracy have been swept away, the fundamentals of the system remain, and the Windsors are the epitome of hereditary power. For whilst the Queen seems to be impotent, her influence goes through the heart of society like ‘Blackpool’ through a stick of rock. Her constitutional powers may be limited, but she does have the right to dissolve parliament and dismiss the Prime Minister. Indeed, her official role now could be seen as to protect the people from any excesses of government. She is the defender of the people. Don’t think it couldn’t happen. Gough Whitlam was removed from office in Australia in 1975 by the Governor-General, the Queen’s man in Canberra.
So a hereditary monarch with such sweeping power should be the very antithesis of a modern democracy. Surely any right-thinking citizen should call for her removal and the destruction of all she represents. But that would only work if the system could be replaced by something better. Granted, if we were starting afresh with a clean sheet of paper, we wouldn’t contemplate such a system. An elected head of state would be an obvious choice, in a meritocracy with an informed and unselfish electorate. However, in a state where public opinion is formed by headlines and sound bites and the money in our pockets today trumps any thought of tomorrow, having a constant at the heart of government who can influence and restrain the fickle, attention-loving politicians is invaluable.
As a republican with a huge respect for the queen, I want to have my cake and eat it. We should abolish the Monarchy for an elected head of state. I think we should all vote for Mrs Elizabeth Windsor.