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The King is dead, long live the King.

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  • The King is dead, long live the King.

    While there are only a couple of monarchs with absolute power left, are there still a big amount of monarchs who function as head of state. So the head of state isn't chosen by the people or picked because of their talents but because they are the oldest child of the last head of state.

    Should this still exist in the 21st century? Is it a problem for democracy in these countries? Should they lose a big part of their power? Leave forever? Or is it actually a nice idea that the head of state isn't chosen by the people? And what is the function of a queen/king and would a president be able to do the same?

    I started this thread because I noticed how this debate takes place in several kingdoms; by example the UK where crownprince William will mary Kate or in my own country where we expect that soon our crowprince will be king. And I hear very different voices, especially how everybody expects something else from their monarch.


    Let's start well; I like having a monarch as head of state. The power is reduced to a minimum so the democracy functions very well despite having a head of state who isn't chosen by the people. But we do have a head of state who is raised to fullfill that role, which is in my opinion a safe idea. Our Queen won't embarrass the country, simply because she is not just a charismatic person who managed to charm or buy 50% of the voters, she knows her role and is aware of the lines she can't cross. Another major plus for is that she is not related to a political party nor is she gone after 8 years, she is a steady symbol of our whole country.
    And I guess that if the monarch does cross the lines, we will become a republic. So they will not 'misbehave' anytime soon.

    And tradition; while it's maybe a bit cheesy I think a lot of people really enjoy watching and reading about royalty. Like a fairytale taking place in their country, the royalty are no longer people but characters in a story. Just look at what happened after Diana's death or any of the royal weddings when you want to see the impact of royalty. But also when bad things are happening, people find comfort in seeing their queen at times like that. I remembered when several years ago a fireworksfactory exploded in the centre of a normal neighboorhood and our Queen visited the survivers together with our prime-minister and it was clear that the people were glad she was there while nobody really cared about the prime-minister being there. There was a poem made after this and one of the lines was;
    "Poor Enschede, hide in the arms of your Queen and cry."

    And I think that this is one of the reasons why I rate monarchy, at least when they don't have too much political power. Presidents come and go and are part of a certain political party, a monarch is no political figure in that way. A queen is always there and she is everybody's queen.

    Is monarchy flawless, certainly not. And I do think they cost too much money, so a smaller budget for them would be nice. But I'm not sure if the grass is really that much greener on the other side, maybe it's not that bad to have a steady monarchy to complete the instable but more important democracy.
    I live in a kingdom and I think it's time for a republic.
    I live in a republic and I'm happy we don't have a monarchy.
    I live in a kingdom and I like it that way.
    I live in a republic but would love to have a royal family.
    Meh, I don't really care.
    I would like to reduce their power, but I'm fine with them being around.
    I've another opinion...
    Last edited by Nina; 04-12-10, 10:53 AM.

  • #2
    In Australia we have Elizibeth the II or the governor-general as our head of state. The Monarchs only function is to pick the governor-general and as far as I am aware has no other legislative power. So the Queen for us is pretty much a complete figurehead.

    Either way I do not approve of a monarchy for the following reasons.

    1. I find the idea that a foreign identity (The British Monarch) as our ruler quite demeaning as symbolically we are under her control and not our own.

    2. I do not approve of the idea in the first place that one by merit only of birth has command of a nation however symbolic. I think merit is needed for such a position since they represent your country and ultimately determine partly how they are judged. They are unlikely to be the best for leadership because despite being raised for the job throughout the country surely a better qualified person will emerge.

    3. I personally find the celebrity adoration thing a bit silly. They are an actor, there are much better things to be admired for such as being brilliant like a Nobel Prize winner. A person who has made the world a better place like say Ghandi. Some people like it. It's exactly the same thing with Royalty. Once again I find it demeaning, why do they deserve what they have and why should there opinion matter so much? Just not something I agree with. But bully for most people I guess as long as it doesn't cost the country too much money and people like it *shrug*. But to me individually I think it's wrong.

    4. Costs money.

    5. Any power the Monarch does have is undemocratic. Though it could be useful in limiting the potential of any political parties. Also serving to maintain democracy by serving ensuring proper procedure and letting the people know of any problems.

    Symbolically though I don't like it. It's undemocratic and demeaning for Australia
    "I never learned from a man who agreed with me.'" Robert Heinlen


    • #3
      Live in the UK, but because Republics tend to function slightly differently I'd still want it treated as a Kingdom, just with a legally official cabinet taking the place of the throne and so dealing with any of those bigger issues that would be beyond Parliament.

      My main problem with the Royal Family is that Governments use them to increase their own popularity - for example a royal wedding makes everyone forget that there welfare and services are getting slashed apart.
      There even changing the law to remove protesters that have been there for years! Rather than have the wedding elsewhere - if thats not dictating to people what they can or can't do and who is and who isn't important, then I don't know what is!

      However...they are very very useful in diplomatic situation, its just something they can do as many countries see them as more prestigious that an ambassador, and there work in charities has to be commended.

      I'd probably like them just to be downsized slightly, and for them to get more privacy rather than the disgusting treatment they got with idiots calling on them to come away from their grieve and from looking after two children who have just lost their mother - just to make them feel better.


      • #4
        Yes I would stick with the constitutional monarchy we have inherited. The appeal of it is quite strong for those of us who have an historical imagination.I bet the Egyptians would be pleased to have a Queen who was descended from Cleopatra.

        On pragmatic grounds it is efficient to have a head of state who represents the country as a whole and is different from the head of government. If the head of state was not a monarch she would have to be either a second rate politician or some celebrity. I don't fancy either alternative.

        I notice that the return of democracy in Spain was associated with the return of the monarchy.

        I notice that in democratic America political dynasties such as the Roosevelts, the Kennedys and the Bushes seem to be quite prominent for much of the time, and then there was the famous Long family of Louisiana and probably other local and regional dynasties. It probnably has to do with the advantage of name recognition.


        • #5
          I'm rather fond of the queen. That's probably no better justification for a system of government than "strange women lying in ponds distributing swords", but, that's always my first reaction when people ask about whether I approve of the monarchy!

          My more thought-out reaction is that I like having the separation between apolitical figurehead and political leader - the idea of a political leader who is also the figurehead makes me think people will take that leader too seriously... or the leader will take her or himself too seriously.

          I wouldn't argue vehemently if people voted to get rid of the queen (erm, or however you'd go about those things without an actual revolution), but I can't really see much point in getting rid of her. She's a nice lady.

          -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --


          • #6
            I live in Ireland and we are a republic!

            Really, I don't have much of a problem with the monarchy in England or anywhere else. I think that the wedding is a nice distraction from everything else that's been dragging everyone down (for those of you who don't know, Ireland recently went from being in the top 10 richest countries in the world to completely f**ked). We don't want to stay down in the dumps for ever!

            To me, this is precisly the reason that the UK and other similar places still have a monarchy. Basically, they're fun to look at. When you get bored with your life, you can just look at theirs. They're like a celebrity that you can feel proud of when they do something good

            And to those who are saying that it cost too much, maybe, but think about this. It is predicted that the wedding between Prince William and Kate is going to bring £60billion to the British economy.
            We're kissing the lips of strangers
            We're hugging whoever next we meet
            Oh life, I love you to my bones

            Buffy Forums Welcoming Committee.


            • #7
              Canada is a constituational monarchy with the Westminster style of democracy. As such, we do have Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state with her representative the Governor General representing the crowns interests on the federal scene, and the Lieutenant Governors representing the crown provincially.

              For me I see a few problems with this, but also see many positive things. The question for me comes down to do I want an elected head of state or not? The short answer is no.

              On the plus the Monarchy provides a connection to a historical past that although tainted with darkness at time, set out what would become the backbone of this nation. Remembering our English heritage is a positive thing (as long as it doesn't serve to sour other relations too often)

              Because of our association with the crown, we also have access to greater association with the Commonwealth of Nations. Discussions between Canada and these other realms tend to be more positive than even the relations we have with the United States at times.

              Finally I foresee the system having great problems if we elected a leader. With the election of a leader, there would be the legitimacy for that person to strike down laws when it came to the signing process. I see this as a potential problem especially if we end up with a Conservative House of Commons and a Liberal Head of State (or vise versa) In my eyes, the House of Commons should have say and shouldn't be rejected unless there is cause for great concern (such as if a government got in power that wanted to clense a portion of the population through legislation. At that point I'd like the crown to step in.) this doesn't mean we need to retain the monarch of course, however that is presently the easiest way to ensure this.

              On the other end of it there are problems as well. The most obvious is that entire portions of the population can't truely identify with the English roots the monarch currently represents. Especially in the case of the Quebecois and Acadians, the monarch is a negative symbol.

              I also have problems paying the Monarch more money than an elected official or a civil servant that actually works for this nation on a regular basis. Although the Queen makes most of her commonwealth related visits outside of the United Kingdom to Canada, it only averages a few times a decade; not quite worth the price.

              Either way it appears that there is an unofficial understanding between our political parties and most the population that after Queen Elizabeth II leaves the throne, she won't be succeeded by a royal. Depending on whose in power at the time we could have a variety of different systems in place. We'll just have to wait and see.


              • #8
                Here in NZ, we DO mostly believe we need to leave the UK sooner or later.

                BUT we don't think it should be discussed YET, given that QEII is actually mighty fine for us, as is Prince Willam (Harry is another matter)

                But we don't particularly like Prince Charles AT ALL. When he does ascend, expect the Republic discussion in NZ and Australia to reignite.


                • #9
                  Yes, I have the impression that there will be change after the present Queen dies. I imagine that Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will become republics but remain in the Commonwealth, which is a useful association being multi national and multi cultural . (It also shows that the old Empire is not remembered in an entirely negative way).

                  I am not sure about Britain and Prince Charles. It has often been remarked that the British monarchy works best as a matriarchal institution, with the Queen as the symbolic mother of the nation. I think it was in the later years of Queen Victoria--especially during the jubillees of 1887 and 1897--that this concept took root.

                  Many people wish that Princess Anne rather than Charles were in line, not because she is all that nice and charming, but because she is a traditional royal who gets on with doing the stuff and broadly keeps her opinions to herself.

                  Edward V111 (later the Duke of Windsor) was in trouble long before Mrs Simpson came on the scene, because of his indiscreet and opinoned character. He did not conceal his admiration for Hitler. In fact I would go so far as to say that Mrs Simpson was the solution rather than the problem, i.e.
                  she provided the Government (Stanley Baldwin) with a straightfoward constitutional pretext for getting rid of the King and putting his brother, the Duke of York, on the throne. Baldwin would have been in a dead fix if the King had decided not to marry Mrs Simpson and keep his throne.

                  Charles is also indiosyncratic and opinionated , though not in the malevolent fashion of his great uncle. But he is widely seen as the bad guy in his unhappy marriage to the highly popular Diana. Prince William is Diana's son and when he is married next year I believe there will be a ground swell of public opinion in favour of William and Kate suceeding the present Queen. I take that view myself. You can see the Daily Mail moving in this direction without yet being too explicit, and the Mail is a barometer of Centre-Right opinion.

                  The monarchy in Britain will survive in one way of another, I feel pretty sure.
                  Few people want a constitutional upheaval that would bring hardly any practical advantages.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LaVelle View Post
                    Here in NZ, we DO mostly believe we need to leave the UK sooner or later.

                    BUT we don't think it should be discussed YET, given that QEII is actually mighty fine for us, as is Prince Willam (Harry is another matter)

                    But we don't particularly like Prince Charles AT ALL. When he does ascend, expect the Republic discussion in NZ and Australia to reignite.
                    Typically, I don't agree with Aucklanders, but on this issue, I totally agree.

                    Remember, we have to pony up a share for Willam and Kate's wedding - without a single iota of economic benefit to NZ (or AUS or CAN for that matter - which all have to pony up something). I think the Rugby World Cup will be NZ's main economic contributor come 2011. Thankfully we have that.

                    We'll still stick with the Commonwealth of Nations, but as a republic with a president.

                    I nominate Pippa Wetszell.
                    Last edited by Aluwyn; 25-12-10, 09:02 AM.


                    • #11
                      I guess I don't miss having royalty in Austria, but I do think we should abolish the law that forbids the former royal family to run for public offices.

                      The law made sense, back when democracy was a shaky thing and there were still many monarchists about but these days I don't see how we would go back to a monarchy if a Habsburg became say president.


                      • #12
                        The Kings Speech is a well made film and brilliantly acted, but it distorts history to an extent I found intolerable.


                        • #13
                          I am an Australian and our Head of State is Elizabeth II represented by the Governor-General here.

                          I am quite glad that we have a constitutional monarchy. I know that becoming a republic may eventually be inevitable considering how many people want it. But when they day comes I will be very sad.

                          A monarchy has so many benefits. The monarch does not have much power, but she serves as a non-political figurehead. The power that she does have means that she (or her representative) can act as a safety net if the government ever got into trouble or came to a complete stand still. That happened in Australia in the Seventies when the Governor-General dissolved the government because the opposition was blocking everything that tried to get through parliament. It was unfortunate but realistically, the lesser of two evils. The recent near-shut down of the government in the US could never happen here because of our monarchy.

                          Also, since the Head of State is born into her/his role, there is no ambition to corrupt her/him. That is why she/he is called a 'disinterested monarch'. She/he has no desire to interfere with politicians or parliament, no ambition to acquire power. The monarch does not have an affiliation with any one political party and the monarch has no motivation to lie or cheat in order to be elected.

                          Basically, the monarch keeps the government in check and the government will always keep the monarch in check. But because the monarch has no vested interest in politics they have are not motivated to interfere unless it is in the absolute best interest of the country. Because the monarch serves her country first.

                          That's without even mentioning the amount of charity work they do.


                          • #14
                            All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.

                            * Queen Elizabeth II couldn't stop the Brexit thing and if I remember correctly she got the UK taxpayers to pay for a $370MM renovation or whatever of Buckingham Palace.

                            * I'm very glad that the United States doesn't have an actual monarchy and doesn't have an actual aristocracy. Most Americans don't like that the Koch brothers have so much power. And they aren't even 'old money'.

                            * A constitutional monarch nowadays is really simply a very glorified 'old money' person.

                            The last I know of to have real power and influence is Queen Victoria. She was arguably the most powerful person to ever live, she's largely responsible for the Industrial Revolution, etc.

                            Pretty much since WWII, The United Kingdom has simply tried to stay as close to the US as possible to remain a very powerful country. Nowadays, The UK is less powerful than both Germany and France. And at least a few and probably at least several other countries.

                            * And most or all of the actual absolute monarch nowadays--the oil monarchs--are simply essentially vassals of The United States or Russia depending on the country.

                            * I would however like an end to term limits for The President of the United States. If US President William Jefferson Clinton could have run again, we wouldn't have had 'The Bush Years'. If US President Barack Hussein Obama could have run again, we wouldn't have 'The Trump Era'. I'm very against term limits in general. It'd be much better to pay members of Government more and members of The Bureaucracy more and simply forbid them from becoming lobbyists and to work for companies they formally oversaw or regulated.


                            • #15
                              The last I know of to have real power and influence is Queen Victoria. She was arguably the most powerful person to ever live, she's largely responsible for the Industrial Revolution, etc.
                              Sorry Mike - the Industrial Revolution started in the latter half of the C18th. Victoria didn't come to the throne until 1837.