No monarchs, no masters?

Joe Holloran & Sidney Pinsent go head-to-head over the value of our head of state

Joe Holloran
21st November 2017
Source: Wikimedia Commons
With the Queen's estate implicated in the Paradise Papers, is it finally time to abolish the monarchy and our status as subjects?

Yes - Joe Holloran

What would you spend £45.6 million on if you could? Spend it on yourself, give it away to charity, share it amongst family and friends perhaps? How about if we took all that money and gave to a family who haven’t worked in generations, live off the state and had a gene pool shallower than the breath of an asthmatic ant. Sound mad right? Welcome to the world of the Royal Family.

The royals in the UK have held no absolute dictatorial powers since the forced signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. However, is wasn’t until the signing of the 1832 Reform Act that Parliament was given the powers to rule over and represent the people of the UK, rather than the whims of the monarch. These days the royals, the Windsor’s, hold a strange sort of ceremonial role – one more of tradition and commerce than of power. This is often used by pro-monarchists as their main reason for supporting the institution. Often you will hear them say that the Royal Family are good for tourists. Well, so is the Tower of London and the Jack the Ripper tours, why don’t we praise them as well? For those who are claiming this is an unfair comparison I say let’s compare the death toll caused by wars ordered by the royals over the centuries to those committed by ‘Naughty Jack’. The tourism argument just doesn’t hold up.

Those who set the social scene, the royals, are the very embodiment of a plutocratic oligarchy

Another excuse given in defence of the monarchy is that they are traditional and set a good example to the people. What young person looks up the royal family for inspiration? What they mean by this is that the royal family exert class. A manner, a way of being. Ultimately a Britishness. The spreading of these ideals and the ‘civilizing’ of the un-washed other was one of the reasons for the gleeful expansion of the Empire, and all the pain that came along with it. Even today, the monarch is the head not only of the democratically elected government of the UK, but also the head of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth its very existence is a constant reminder of the oppressive, un-democratic system that once reigned over a quarter of the globe. The taint of this history is intrinsically linked to the idea of monarchy and inherited power. How can we call ourselves a progressive, democratic nation when those who set the social scene, the royals, are the very embodiment of a plutocratic oligarchy?

The tourism argument just doesn't hold up

Like many British Republicans, including Jeremy Corbyn, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell and Morrissey among others, my own anti-monarchist sentiments are tampered with the reality of public opinion which in a recent YouGov poll placed support for the Windsor’s at 68%. My view is that a passive attitude for the most part is required. It is unlikely that tomorrow Prince Charles or Princess Eugenie will stage a coup d’état and implement dictatorial rule. There is no need to rush or push the royals out, they will vanish (as all illogical traditions do) with the passing of time and the dissemination of knowledge.

No - Sidney Pinsent

The argument that the monarchy lessens our democracy is ridiculous. Yes, the monarch is the Head of State and it is Her Majesty's Government, but she exercises no power and her role remains ceremonial. This also clouds over where nepotism is a genuine issue, the House of Lords. Nowhere else (apart from the EU) will you find unelected officials with such law-making powers, many of whom are hereditary peers. This system is aristocratic and dangerous. The Queen has no power and the notion that by abolishing the monarchy our democracy will be raised is ludicrous.

They are idealised throughout the world and the Paradise Papers will change nothing

And that's the beauty of the monarch, it's useless. They have no power, no right to be there and no mandate. The role of the British monarch in the 21st century is so abstract that I can find no meaningful negatives. They play an important role in deception; playing on Britain's bloody and romantic royal past to coax tourists into thinking the Monarch actually does something. Surely, then, the Monarch is a silly idea in a forward-thinking modern democracy? Absolutely not, it's exactly what we need, it brings an absurd sense of fun and pomp to the bland landscape of Parliament. Go to Germany, France, Italy, or - better still - the EU in Brussels and you'll find a cold world of Bureaucrats and civil servants void of humanity, restricted by their stony pragmatism.

They are not just part of our history, they are part of our country

Let's face it, we find a big bell the most exciting thing that goes on in Westminster. We jump on every MP scandal, froth at the mouth while we watch politicians backstab each other to oblivion but, as with all Monarch scandals, the Paradise Papers have been met with rampant indifference. It is embarrassment through association rather than genuine scandal. The Monarch is too important in its role as figureheads of Britain, they are idealised throughout the world and the Paradise Papers will change nothing.

They are not just part of our history, they are part of our country. They are as British as the soil under the Croquet lawn and as sweet as summer strawberries, the monarch is the British identity. To lose it will form a void that cannot be filled. Humans crave drama. America has suffered a recent stroke of boredom in the election of Trump. I say let the Queen do the pomp so our politicians remain the meek underlings of the people. She is the equaliser, not the divider.



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