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Queen & Country

Today is officially a public holiday in the UK, as it’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the 70th anniversary of her coronation.

For weeks, if not month, there have been regular reminders of this in the media. Along with advertisements from firms wanting to sell you food and other stuff to celebrate. There are various street parties being organised today and through the weekend, as well as official events to mark the occasion.

My feelings about this are mixed. In many ways I feel sorry for the Queen and other members of the Royal Family1, who would probably dearly love to have their own lives and not be figureheads. But the institution that they embody is from an age that very much belongs in the history books, and its continued presence (and influence) rankles with me.

I’m very much in favour of having an elected, non-political head of state. Realistically, though, that’s not going to happen any time soon. So we’re left with the question of what will happen when Elizabeth II is no longer with us, or decides she’s had enough. (I wouldn’t blame her for wanting to retire as her mother did.)

Charles is next in line for the throne, but I suspect he’ll be a stop-gap as he’s getting on in years. William is probably the one who could (and should) clean up the Royal Family. Whether he’d be allowed to is another matter. The UK press in particular won’t like it, and there is mutual distrust already2. And the Church of England probably frets over this too.

Above all, the winding-down of the monarchy will threaten all the other institutions that rely on it for their power (and occasional abuses thereof). Parliament would need to be completely overhauled, for starters, and brought into the 21st century and out of (in some cases3) the 11th century. So too would the remaining Crown Dependencies and other remnants of Empire, which would in turn mean a lot of tax havens losing their statuses.

So yeah, not going to hold my breath on that.

  1. That pity doesn’t extend to Prince Andrew, for obvious reasons. ↩︎

  2. If not outright hatred, thanks in part to their treatment of his mother Diana. ↩︎

  3. The fact that Norman French is still in use when Bills receive Royal Assent in the House of Lords and become Law should be an embarrassment. ↩︎

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