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Dr Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute gets it:

As titular head of the government, the army and the judiciary, the Queen notionally has the power to prevent these institutions being perverted by anti-democratic tyrants. It is not the power that the Queen wields, but the power that she, in theory, denies others. In fact, the present Queen has not done enough to prevent politicians over-expanding their power; but over the centuries, the system has definitely had some positive effect.

There is no point in a constitutional monarchy for its own sake. The point, as the (classical) liberal Butler here and Dr Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance both realise, is that it’s the best way we know of safeguarding our liberties against tyranny. In this it has been pretty successful and even the long reign of the worst and most negligent monarch in our history has not – at least yet – snuffed them out entirely. That we live in relatively benign society does not mean this will always be the case. Queen Elizabeth II or one of her successors may be truly tested one day in the same way that Spain’s King Juan Carlos was tested in 1981 when he faced down a military coup. If that day should come we should expect our monarch to break a habit and do the same. This would be the very point of their existence.

Americans might be interested in Butler’s subsequent comment on the path of their own (elected) monarch.

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3 thoughts on “LONG TO REIGN OVER US

  1. Once I was a ‘Royalist’, – later to become a ‘Roundhead’, when I realised that, while the name over the door was well respected, in truth, there was little left of value in the building.

    Monarchy, – an icon for substance, stability and unity in a nation, and a guardian of our long held and uniquely British values, which are a large part of our heritage, – are we not being delusional in thinking that is still the case, here in the UK?

    With moves, gathering pace, for the dissolution of the United Kingdom, and a community divided along lines never before imagined, not just reigious or political, but along national and even financial parameters, we can clearly no longer call ourselves ‘united’, and I have yet to mention the gorilla in the corner, unelected, unwanted, and pushing hard, seemingly with little resistance, for a secretive bureaucratic hegemony over which we have little say or control.

    As for preserving our heritage, isn’t heritage also about things other than wonderful buildings, artifacts, and ceremony, isn’t it also about the more intangible things such as honesty, integrity, reponsibility and pride of endeavour? While being far from qualified to offer critcism of those virtues, it doesn’t take much to realise that they do not figure very highly in the general scheme of things.

    That you have such faith – or is it just hope? – that should the need arise we will be able to rely on the right course of action being taken, – well, – could that just be another instance of when we need to give Drake’s Drum a resounding hump, and hope that that our saviour might miraculously save us from infamy? Who knows, it could well be Oliver’s turn his time around!

  2. Good posting Peter and Ernest.

    “There is no point in a constitutional monarchy for its own sake.”

    As wehave said before, it is doubtful if the present monarch has done enough to protect our culture and its values, and that is why its usefulness and relevance are in doubt.
    Personally if, as her subjects, we were able to write to Her Majesty and express our concerns on a variety of issues;
    in the certain knowledge that those views would at least be expressed privately to the Prime Minister of the day by Her Majesty;
    then and only then would I be hopeful we could retain the monarchy.
    If on the other hand our present Queen is content to be a meaningless figurehead, a tourist sideshow, then all is lost.

  3. In fact, the present Queen has not done enough to prevent politicians over-expanding their power

    It would be useful if those who make this assertion would back it up with concrete examples of where the queen has failed on the job. Short of refusing a dissolution of parliament or refusing to sign a bill into law, it is difficult to see what powers she could have exercised. And of course the exercise of those powers, if it was attempted, would drag the monarchy into the poltical fray, where it would most definitely perish. For the record, the last monarch who refused to sign a bill into law was Queen, circa 1705.

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