Wednesday, 5 March 2008

God Save The Queen

Like many organisations, the British Royal Family has its flaws. It's bloated, unwanted and largely clueless but that's enough about Prince Andrew, its his mum that this post is concerned with and how she has today become the third longest-serving monarch in our history.
Her reign today exceeds that of Henry III, who ruled for 56 years but in front of her is crazy old King George III's 59 years and Queen Victoria's 63 years.
Prince Charles may be excused for swearing under his breath at his mothers longevity because the poor guy has been hanging around like a big eared waste of space waiting for his chance to sit in the big chair but this line of the British Royal Family are a hardy bunch. They sure do make them tough where they're from. Germany.
Queen Lizzie is also the second longest-serving head of state in the world, after King Bhumibol of Thailand and she has seen off 11 prime ministers, starting with the cigar munching Winston Churchill.
As as her song goes "Long to reign over us" and looking at who is next on throne, we can only hope the Queen hangs around for a few years yet.

21 comments:

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Lucy,
1) Might I ask how strong the republican movements are in Great Britain? Are they actually popular?

2) In the defense (well it's not much of a defense really) of the British monarchy, there are unforeseen consequences to getting rid of the king. Who do you think the American tabloids chase around? The Emperor of America? Kings and queens and their kin are at least good for a bit of shallow entertainment every now and then.

And I don't know how much those folks are actually in the lives of everyday Britons, but I can say that on the rare occasion that a king or queen comes up here in the states, we aren't talking about the kings and queens of the Low Countries or Nordic states.

Though an American wouldn't ever go for a kingdom over here, there's just the faintest bit of monarchist nostalgia hanging around. We don't have our own king or queen to make scandals for us so we have to settle with the ones we would have had.

--Nog

SteveLockwood said...

There's no doubt, the monarchy should be abolished. They benefit from undue power and privilege, purely on the basis that their ancestors were the biggest bully-boys on the block. Also, as head of the Church, the Queen forges the link between Church and State. It's all quite inappropriate in a modern, multi-cultural democracy.

Having said that, I do have worries about the effect of abolishing the monarchy. Where will the tourists point their cameras? Will they stop coming?

And, most of all, how will we entertain ourselves once the surreal soap-opera that is the lives of the royal family has the plug pulled? For instance, the Diana inquest, ie Mohammed Al Fayed's personal quest to accuse Prince Phillip of a plot to kill his son, has cost the British tax payer £10 million pounds. That works out at about 40 pence for every adult in the UK. I ask you, where in the world can you get such good entertainment value for just 40 pence?

Once again, Britain leads the world.

Cheezy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheezy said...

Yeah, screw the monarchy - we should elect a President instead... After all, no one's ever elected a retarded, dumbf~ck President...

:-O

OK, I'm being facetitious. Personally, I'm a (small 'r') republican, but by the same token, I don't see abolishing the monarchy as this country's most pressing need... For a couple of starters, how about preventing our elected leaders from following their authoritarian instincts and eliminating some of our most precious civil liberties... and also stopping them committing our money towards foreign adventures based on lies that everyone else knew was bollocks right from the start?

Y'know, sort of like a (theoretical) democracy. That would be nice.

We can behead the Queen anytime... Don't worry - she'll still be around in 50 years time... Look at that unearthly glow on her - she's obviously immortal or something.

Anonymous said...

Cheesy,

You are so right. Carter and Clinton were such losers.

Q

Lucy said...

Steve sums it all up nicely when it comes to our royal family. They are there just for entertainment value and to give us plebs something to wave a small plastic flag for.
I would pack them all off to the Antarctic or somewhere else where there isn't any pubs. Got to look after Hewitts son after all.

The Fez Monkey said...

Where's Oliver Cromwell when you really need him eh?

Ook ook

ruth said...

Yep - they are a very long-lived family! Just think - without them we would never have heard of Diana Spencer...they've got a lot to answer for. I admire Charles' interest in organics though.

Cheezy said...

"You are so right. Carter and Clinton were such losers."

Ha! Yeah, take your pick, mate :)

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Y'all,
Another great lesson from the American experience, there are always "aristocrats". Y'all have a king and a queen made by theoretically eternal hereditary right. They seem to understand that they're under watch to stay in line.

Y'all'l still have kings and queens without the "monarchy", they'll simply be less well behaved because they have a whole lot less to lose. Fellows like Mel Gibson have similar status to your royals but have no delusions about staying around forever in perpetual succession. They're less future interested in several ways. They don't have to care about the United States in a hundred years and they don't have to behave themselves. Would you trade Lizzy the Second for Lindsay Lohan or Phillip the Greek for Tom Cruise or William for the former Heath Ledger?

Kings and queens, then, have several possible functions. Some of these functions cannot be abolished. True a king and queen in the sense I say it is about what we're talking about with "entertaining the plebs", but y'alls queen certainly behaves herself with half a bit of dignity. The side (or primary) effect of not having an institution for "the deification of very flawed people" is that there is the lack of that institution.

Our kings and queens then aren't chosen by "divine right" so much as "mob pleasing". The strangest thing I see is that whereas some over on this side seem to be able to deify people who aren't gods, y'all don't seem to have any delusions about "the Aristocracy".


I'd think more along the lines of completely defanging the monarchy by taking all of those huge reserve powers while retaining them as "well behaved national symbols". You might even want to cut down on their titles with a downgrade from king/queen to something else.

-Also, there has been a suggestion of a "president" to replace the monarch. Do y'all mean an "American-style" (active) president or a "German-style" (relatively passive) president?

There is a danger in "American-style" presidents because they tend to be both active and monarchistic. They like to call themselves "commander-in-chief" (a.k.a. great war leader/chief) far more than "Presider of the Republic". And the great danger in this is that most folks tend to somewhat buy this subtle claim to "kinglyness". Better to have a blatantly monarchist king without power than a closet king with lots of power.

-Nog

SteveLockwood said...

You've hit the nail on the head there Noah. Americans love to create aristocracies and dynasties - I cite George Hamilton IV and Loudon Wainwright III as examples (though I suspect the male line of the latter may come to a halt in young Rufus).

And it's the same with us Brits. If the royalty did not exist we would end up re-inventing it - probably in the form of some ghastly politician with big teeth and suspiciously narrow eyes - or perhaps a bling-laden reality contest winner, transformed by PR people into a "prince" or "princess of hearts".

So, the royals have absolutely no right to all their wealth and influence but perhaps they are better than the alternatives. At least they try to be dignified most of the time. But then again, so do I.

Where can I get one of those plastic flags Lucy?

Lucy said...

I think you credit our royalty with too much power nog, they have no power over how the country is run whatsoever apart from some ancient rituals they perform such as dissolving the government at time of the election but that is all ceremonial.
They are literally just a tourist attraction.

Lucy said...

I am sure i have some spare plastic flags in the garage steve. I was goign to sell them to the Pakistanis to burn infront of the TV cameras next time we annoy them but if you want them they are yours.

Cheezy said...

"they have no power over how the country is run"

That's the way it pans out 99% of the time, but they do still have considerable potential powers - they just habitually choose not to exercise them. But as an example, the monarchy does have the ability to dissolve parliament if they want to - and, of course, this actually happened in Australia, and as recently as 1975.

Lucy said...

I wasn't aware of the Australia thing Cheezy, I will have to try and find out the last time they actually stuck their oar in regarding the british government.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

The queen, as I understand, technically has endless power which she never unilaterally uses.

The queen can veto anything but hasn't since the early 1700s; the queen can axe the prime minister (or any other government officer) and pick whoever she wants but hasn't since about 1832 or so; the queen can declare war on or make peace with anyone, sign treaties with anyone, annex anything, and enter into alliances with anyone; the queen could just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and declare war on France, dismiss every military officer in the Kingdom and replace them with kittens who she could also make grand dukes; the queen can dissolve parliament and refuse to reconvene it forever.

The fact that these powers are never used unilaterally (without the advice of the Prime Minister and Parliament) makes them no less terrifying. I think about the only thing she can't do is raise taxes. Of course she never does these things because y'all would rise up against her, but that doesn't mean there not still technically there.

So strip all of these and have her waive all day. Take the title if y'all want, call her the "Hereditary President of the Commonwealth" or whatever with the special prerogatives to use the "royal waive" (we make fun of it all of the time here in the States, Who waives like that?) and to sound stereotypically English. I'm no monarchist. But these functions don't go away. Take your pick, Bush, Stalin, Putin, Lenin, Hitler, Castro, Lindsay Lohan, or Lizzie.

Cheezy said...

Out of that little lot, I'm torn between Lizzie and Lindsay.

Lucy said...

I would go for Lizzie as Queen but Bush & Hitler i would leave to Olivers Army to deal with.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

I'd heard that Cromwell was little better than the kind and forgiving folks that "axed" the French king a bit over a century later. Wasn't he a bit of a tyrant himself?

Lucy said...

If it wasn't for Cromwell we would never have had Elvis Costello who's whole singing career was based on that one song. Good song though.

The Fez Monkey said...

If it wasn't for Cromwell we would never have had Elvis Costello who's whole singing career was based on that one song. Good song though.

Now, now. You're forgetting "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" and "Radio Radio" - both of which preceded "Oliver's Army"

Ook ook