Sunday, 20 May 2012

Monarchy

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I hope England never becomes a republic and am pretty sure she never will. 
Monarchies are only abolished after military defeats or revolutions.  In any case, no-one wants President Douglas Hurd or President Margaret Beckett. (But, which God forbid, if England does ever become a republic I hope the head of state is called Lord Protector, not President. Lord Protector was used the last time we had a republic and it goes back long before Oliver Cromwell to Protector Somerset and perhaps before.)


I was delighted to be told recently by an insider, Lord Watkins, the Liberal Democrat peer who was ennobled for never quite winning election to the Commons for Richmond, that the Queen has a great deal of political influence. Still she hasn't seemed to have prevented the disasters that have befallen us since 1952. These have been the sixty worst as well as the sixty best years in our history. The reasons why they were the best had almost nothing to do with politicians but the reasons why they were the worst had very much to do with Her Majesty's governments. It is no longer true to say:

How small of all that human hearts endure 
That part that kings or governments can cure.

Though I suppose Her Majesty should not be blamed too much.


One is not a monarchist for reasons. Monarchists despise reasons just as no-one has a reason for loving sunsets or the paintings of Claude Lorrain. But if required to stoop to give practical reasons for a monarchy they are as myriad as the grains of Libyan sands that lie upon the perfumed Cyrenian plain. If you exhaust all the others Romania supplies another desertful. To have had a decent, brave, patriotic, well-educated and gentlemanly Head of State rather than the former Communists Iliescu, Constantinescu and Basescu would have been to let fresh air into the foetid and corrupt political system. And beyond politics, the King has style and grace and suffered a penurious exile as an enemy of Communism.



The abilities or personality of the monarch or his family are of no importance whatever - the charm and strength of monarchy is that, as Melbourne said of the Garter, there is no damn merit in it. Macaulay I think coined the expression 'crowned republic' for the English constitution and there is no good reason for substituting a real republic. Even republicans in England have lost the stomach for it, after the royal wedding and now the Diamond Jubilee. After all, Republicanism no longer means anything - unlike in the 19th century when it meant liberalism, anti-clericalism and, in the old fashioned French revolutionary, not the socialist, sense, equality. But monarchies still mean some things other than tourism earnings and good fun and an excuse every few years for a beano. Things like  tradition, hierarchy, national identity, in European cases Christianity. I think these things are important, even more important than the NHS, which has replaced religion and patriotism in the hearts of some Englishmen, or economic growth or the chimera of 'defeating' poverty.  


Despite diversity and the multiracial society, in both of which he is a great believer, Charles like most indigenous Englishmen is descended from men in furs who go off boats from Germany in the 5th century. That, the fact that he is his mother's son, is why he is there and why we are here. (His forbears include Mahomet and he is related to Vlad the Impaler, by the way.) However it just so happens that the Prince of Wales is also a lovely, good man, despite, like some of his ministers and subjects, committing adultery, is always interesting and cares about his people. I suspect however that if he tries to make the monarchy into a true constitutional monarchy and be more active than the Queen is he will run into trouble with the politicians. Labour treated him with great churlishness when they were in power. Nick Cohen in today's Observer believes, and the wish is father to the thought, that "Charles III will be the best advert the republican cause has had since Charles I".



If only Syria had a monarchy (but the French set up republics in the Middle East unlike the British who set up monarchies) she would be better off. I still hope that they will restore the monarchies in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. For Iraq it is too late, I suppose. It was a dreadful mistake not to have restored the monarchy in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban and while the old king was still alive. He ascended the throne in 1933 the same year that Hitler and Franklin D. Roosevelt came to power and reigned until the 1970s when Afghanistan was the final stop in the hippy trail. Just look at the countries that do not have a monarchy anymore and guess how much better they would have done had they kept theirs: Libya, Tunisia; Afghanistan; Iraq; Egypt. Had the Ottoman Empire only survived or the Hapsburgs, Hohenzollerns or Romanovs... With the Ottoman empire as I never tire of pointing out we would have been spared Israel, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, etc. and the Caliphate would still exist therefore there would be no casus belli for Al Qaeda. Had we only stayed close to them and not allied ourselves with the Czar before the Great War a constitutional parliamentary Ottoman Empire would exist, Greeks and Turks would live side by side in Anatolia and Greece and the Armenians would not have been massacred.

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