It’s time for a British Republic

There are two subjects that I try to avoid for fear of upsetting people: God and the monarchy. To my thinking, belief in both is not only outdated and unreasonable, but constitutes a habit that prevents people responding positively and creatively to the problems we face. Prompted by a certain royal wedding this week-end, I have decided that it’s time the gloves came off. In this particular blog I present my case against the monarchy, in the next I’ll present my case against God.

I fully understand that the British monarchy are only constitutional monarchs and have no real power – that the Queen is a purely symbolic head of state. But that’s the issue – my main concern regards what the monarchy actually symbolises: inherited status and privilege; a social structure in which we know our place and bow down to people simply because of the position they were born into. Why should I place anybody on pedestal (or a throne) and revere them simply on the grounds of their birth? But that is the insidious and unconscious message that support for the monarchy entails – support for a social structure that is hierarchical, archaic and grounded in inherited privilege.

I would like my head of state to symbolise meritocracy and accountability. Whilst I’m actually quite reluctant to place anybody on a pedestal, I am prepared respect their position if they have acquired it through merit and ability, through some form or democratic process, and if they are accountable to the people for their actions. And I want them to actually have power – power to change things, power to drive forward the common good. I would like my head of state to have an understanding of the problems we face, a vision of the future, and the ability to drive us towards that vision.  But most of all, I would like my head of state to symbolise and campaign for human global egalitarianism.

The Crown Chronicles website lists eight reasons why we should retain the monarchy. From my perspective, eight reasons why we should assign them to room 101.

  1. They unite the people: Potentially that is true, but united under an archaic and privileged social structure that keeps people in their place rather than united behind a vision for the future that promotes their creativity.
  2. They provide stability: Again true, but an outdated stability that is creeping towards stagnation.
  3. They are cheaper than a Republic: I’ve not done the maths on this so am prepared to take them at their word (though intuitively it feels wrong), but even if they are correct I think the price of a Republic would be one well worth paying.
  4. They are less corrupt and more trusted than politicians: It’s difficult to be corrupt without power, but what’s the point of a head of state without power? The solution is to demand higher standards from our politicians, not retain an inherited position in which the incumbent is not accountable to the people.
  5. They are good for the economy: So was slavery, an expansive empire, and coal production, but that doesn’t make them desirable in the twenty-first century.
  6. They have morals: They may or may not, but who is there to judge, or hold them to account? Surely the argument is not that their inherited position somehow provides them with an intrinsic morality only available to one such as themselves?
  7. The monarchy makes sense: No it doesn’t, for all the reasons stated above.
  8. Important causes and issues are highlighted: Various members of the royal family have, over recent years, highlighted important issues, but no more than a whole host of politicians and other campaigners. Again, surely the argument is not that only the view from their privileged position provides insight into issues the rest of us are incapable of seeing, or that only their privileged position permits the dissemination of these issues to people capable of doing something about them?

So I’m sorry if I offend any royalists, but everything about the monarchy seriously offends my sense of humanity. I have nothing against any individual member of the royal family other than the wealth and status they have acquired simply by virtue of their birth, and I wish them no harm other than they experience life as the vast majority of us experience it. We need to end this outdated system now, and replace it with a British Republic. Until we do, their background privileged and hierarchical structure will continue to infest the remainder of our social structure in ways we are not even aware of.

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