Never mind equality for first-born royals; what about equality for everybody else?

Of the various forms of government which have prevailed in the world,’ Edward Gibbon presciently remarked more than 200 years ago, ‘an hereditary monarchy seems to present the fairest scope for ridicule.’

In this respect at least, not a lot has changed over the past two centuries. Heaven only knows what the great historian would have made of the current lot, whose foibles all too frequently offer ample scope for satirists.

However, the real case against the House of Windsor is not based on the failings of the individuals that comprise it, but its continued role in political life. As long as the queen or king remains head of state, not just in the UK but in 15 other countries as well, then parliamentary democracy remains unduly restricted.

Discrimination against princesses in the line of succession and the ban on monarchs marrying Roman Catholics are both to be scrapped, we have learned today, in a development that is being hailed by some as a triumph for egalitarianism. But the question that should be occupying the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth right now is why monarchy persists at all.

The royal family stands at the apex of the highly developed and still largely unassailable British class system, based on social networks that centre on the landed aristocracy, the county set, the upper layers of the Church of England, the Bar, and the City, and officers serving in ‘good regiments’.

Under Britain’s unwritten constitution, ‘the crown’ is sovereign. Accordingly, the government is ‘Her Majesty’s Government’, in formal terms representing the interests of Elizabeth Windsor rather than the people that elected it into office.

Using the so-called royal prerogative, ministers can conclude treaties, appoint anyone they please to any public position, award honours and peerages, manage the civil service, introduce delegated legislation and even declare war without approval from parliament.

The very existence of a caste of taxpayer-supported billionaires, from whose ranks alone the position of head of state must in perpetuity  be filled, thereby reserving unto itself powers to overrule and even dismiss governments, is a standing affront to democratic values.

There is little point in reforming such patent absurdity when the only answer is to scrap it outright and drag British politics into the third millenium. Never mind equality for first-born royal babies; what about equality for everybody else?

  1. Should first born girls have the right to succeed to the throne? No, they should not! No one should have that right and the left should have no truck with reforms that legitimise the institution of monarchy.