It’s principle not accident of birth which should determine who is our Head of State

There is a preposterous article in The Times today which tries to do a sort of Cost Benefit Analysis on the Royal Family. Only in a society that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing could measuring the value of the Royal Family be a matter of simplistic accountancy. The issue is simpler and more principled than is revealed by building a spreadsheet and entering data. Does Britain in the future want to give power and privilege to people based on the accident of their birth, or not?

The Royal throne of Kings does not make us a Sceptrered Isle as is only too apparent if we look around us today. Our problems are not helped by the fact that sitting on pedestals above us is a bunch of individuals whose only qualification is who their parents were, or who they married. That these individuals vary from the good (The Queen ) to the bad (Prince Andrew) and the ugly (your call) is not irrelevant.

The hereditary principle – too great a risk

No society that even plays lip service to the principle of equality of opportunity can justify hereditary privilege. It starts at the top. An unelected Head of State brings risks with it. We could have entered the Second World War with a Nazi loving King and only chance prevented this calamity. If HMQ had died at the same age as her father and Charles followed her before he married we’d have had King Andrew. Think about it.

The main symbol of the pernicious British Empire was Queen Victoria. The Empire is gone but the symbol remains in her regal successor. Elizabeth has been a fine public servant and might have made a good President had we had the sense to become a republic and vote her into office. But the serendipity of hereditary succession is inappropriate in a modern state. Is Charles Windsor really the early best we can do ? It’s not the cost of the Royal gang that matters but the principle.

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