Following the decision not to charge Prince Philip, am I a republican yet? I really do not want to be. They are usually the people who want to abolish picturesque old ceremonies, but who are not so concerned about alleviating poverty or about stopping wars.
And yet it was New Labour that created the situation in which a man who happened to be married and related to the Queen could get away with breaking a woman’s arm and with coming close to killing a baby. He would have gone to court in 1996, and he was quite old even then. But he will not be going to court in 2019. What would have been the reaction if this had been any other questionably asylum-seeking immigrant who had got into this country by marrying his own cousin? Or any other foreign-born old man whose sister had been married to an SS Officer and whose own real surname was Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg?
The monarchy keeps sweet a lot of people who need to be kept sweet. But I am entirely at a loss as to why it has that effect on them. Either the Queen or her equally revered father has signed off on every nationalisation, every aspect of the Welfare State, every retreat from Empire, every loosening of Commonwealth ties, every social liberalisation, every constitutional change, and every EU treaty.
If they could not have done otherwise, then why bother having a monarchy? What is it for? I support public ownership and the Welfare State in principle, even if the practice has often fallen short. The same may be said of decolonisation, as a matter of historical interest. I find some social liberalisations and some constitutional changes a cause for joy, and others a cause for horror. I abhor the EU, and the weakening of the Commonwealth. But this is not about me.
Is it the job of a monarch, if not to acquire territory and subjects, then at least to hold them? If so, then George VI was by far the worst ever British monarch, and quite possibly the worst monarch that the world has ever seen. And is it the job of a British monarch to maintain a Protestant society and culture in the United Kingdom? If so, then no predecessor has ever begun to approach the abject failure of Elizabeth II, a failure so complete that no successor will ever be able to equal it.
For all her undoubted personal piety, I am utterly baffled by the cult of the present Queen among Evangelical Protestants and among those who cleave to a more-or-less 1950s vision of Anglicanism, Presbyterianism or Methodism. What has either the monarchy or the Queen ever done for them? During the present reign, Britain has become history’s most secular country, and the White British have become history’s most secular ethnic group, a trend that has been even more marked among those with Protestant backgrounds than it has been among us Catholics.
This has implications for the Windrush debate, and with nine Commonwealth Realms in or on the Caribbean, a fat lot of good being the Queen’s loyal subject has done anyone there. It also has implications for aspects of the debate around Brexit. If you wanted to preserve and restore a Christian culture in this country, then you would welcome very large numbers of immigrants from the Caribbean, from Africa, and from Eastern Europe.
All non-ceremonial exercises of the Royal Prerogative, including Royal Assent, should be transferred to six, seven, eight or nine of nine Co-Presidents, with each of us voting for one candidate, and with the top nine elected to hold office for eight years. That would enfranchise those who inexplicably looked to the monarchy to protect them from social democracy, or from social liberalism, or from European federalism, or what have you. It has never done any such thing.
The Royal Family might relocate to the Canada of Justin Trudeau, who is their kind of politician in a way that neither Theresa May nor Jeremy Corbyn ever could be. But the monarchy could continue to exist in Britain, too. If it kept sweet the people who needed to be kept sweet. In a word, liberals.