Prince Harry says no royal wants to be king or queen


I saw what you did, there.


One of the reasons it never really gets anywhere is that (unlike Brexit apparently) everyone who would have to be involved in putting the decision into effect knows that actually doing it would be horrendously complicated.

Issue one is what if anything do you replace it with? Other countries have a president to do the sort of ceremonial and signing things stuff the monarch does in the UK. In that case, you don’t actually get much of a saving (in fact I seem to remember seeing some figures somewhere that other countries actually spend more on their presidents than the royals cost us).

Even if you do decide to have a president rather than the Royals on the basis that it’s at least more democratic and makes us a bit less likely to have to deal with jokes about knights jousting and how we’re all peasants unless we live in an actual castle, who gets to be president.

It tends to be retired senior politicians who get the gig.

The last time I remember this coming up as a serious proposition everyone took one look at the prospect of President Blair and said “No way in hell”.

Then there’s the problem that it’s not quite as simple as just slotting $President in where we used to have $Monarch.

We’ve had over 1000 years of running our system as a monarchy. There are all sorts of weird conventions and assumptions built into our weird and kinda-open sourced constitution, many of which rely on there being a monarch.

It’s kind of like fiddling with some crusty piece of code which no one is really sure what it does or why its there. Theoretically you could just comment it out and see what happens, except it’s part of a critical system that can’t be allowed to crash and there’s no way to simulate it (is that a good analogy - I have no idea, I don’t code.)

Basically, push comes to shove at present, if something goes wrong constitutionally, we can theoretically stick a bit of paper in front of Lizzie which says: “I, Queen Elizabeth II (etc., etc.) say this problem is fixed in this way” and it’ll be fixed. If we have a president whose powers and duties would pretty much by definition be pinned down and constrained, there might be something she can’t do - what then?

Then of course there’s also the money (again). The Royals get money from the Civil List (well it’s the Sovereign Grant now).



That was originally a deal between George III and Parliament under which the government basically got control of (and the income from) the Crown Estate (which is basically most of the UK) and the monarch got a guaranteed income.



The Royals do also own quite a lot of the UK in their personal capacities but the Monarch technically still owns the Crown Estate, they just sort of leased it to the government.

If we got rid of the Royals would we just nick the Crown Estate or pay some sort of compensation?

Republicans would say just take it and stick the Windsors in a council estate.

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I suspect there would be quite a lot of people would still get pretty angry if that were seriously suggested.

To be honest, it would have been easier if we’d stuck to our guns back in 1659/1660.


I’m kind of hoping he takes the path of his first namesake.


Who would be Cromwell?


If they ran a paid lottery to choose the participant, the UK would never have to go through austerity again…


If it included illegitimate descendants I would be on there too. I don’t know what Britain’s reaction would be to having a monarch with anarcho-communist sympathies, but If they were looking at me to become queen then obviously things aren’t going well for the human race to start with…


All hail Queen the Borderer, first of Her Name!


I supposed they tried that once before yeah?


I would certainly move to Britain and become your subject!


Watching the recent series “The Crown” really pushed this issue home for me - there’s a lot of sacrifice in pomp & circumstance and being perpetually in the public eye and needing to represent the moral centre of anything.

I suppose if you aren’t used to being represented by a monarchy it isn’t necessarily obvious why it’s “for the people” but the answer is traditions matter to societies. No one would suggest that the US government stop paying for purely ceremonial things like guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier, or maintaining the white house grounds, or many of the other cultural traditions (pardoning a turkey comes to mind) because they’re traditions people grow up with and help form the fabric of their “home country”.

There’s a lot of history in the monarchy, and as we’ve seen too many times, ignoring history leads all too often to the repeating old mistakes. A stark, bold reminder of the past might just help prevent mistakes of the future, too, even if their actual role is only ceremonial now.


This is a good point and it goes along historically, I think, with the rise of nationalism as a workable concept for justifying various kinds of governments in the modern age. A Monarchy can be seen as much as a symbol of the nation and as embodying a national history as a national museum, a standardization of language, or a flag (among other things). Reminds me of the argument Benedict Anderson made about the rise of nationalism in general:

In the UK, the monarchy is yet another way of creating a shared identity among tens of millions of people who would otherwise be strangers to one another.


It’s not the monarch per se who owns it, it’s the Crown – i.e., the office of monarch. E.g., when Edward VIII abdicated, no one suggested that the Crown Estate was still his – unlike Balmoral and Sandringham, which were his personal property inherited from his father, and which he sold to his brother George VI for a tidy sum.

And when royalists start bleating about the Crown Estate and how much it brings in compared to the costs of maintaining a monarchy, they always forget to mention that in addition to paying a fixed income George III and his successors, Parliament also agreed to meet most of the governmental expenses that had hitherto been the King’s responsibility. In other words, the money from the Crown Estate is doing what it’s always done – paying for the administration costs of the UK (and of Great Britain before that, and of England before that – I’m guessing there was a similar set-up in pre-Union Scotland, but can’t speak with confidence). Only the nature of the party controlling the purse-strings has changed. To suggest that in the event of a change in our constitutional set-up that this effectively public land should become someone’s private property is risible.

(P.S.: for avoidance of doubt, tirade above is not directed at you.)


The part that I remember is when she’s just been made Queen, and she wants the guy who used to be her secretary to continue in his post. But the next in line to be the monarch’s secretary (instead of the princess’ secretary) is some other guy. And everyone’s like “Well I mean, you’re Queen, we’ll do what you say but if you don’t follow tradition people will be so disappointed blah blah …”

And she doesn’t get to keep her secretary.


Exactly. The show did a great job of showing me that for the Queen, at least, she basically had no choices at all over a huge swath of issues, because she was expected to do certain things. It’s a very different sort of hardship compared to what the average person experiences - she may never want for money or goods, but the price of that bounty, definitely, was freedom of expression, decorum, and indeed, a lot of decisions about the company she’s kept, freedom to travel, etc. etc.

The character Londo Mollari from Babylon 5 (who was Emperor at the time) has a line that I always thought encapsulated this issue so well:

“I would love to walk with you on a beach, somewhere, for just five minutes. How strange, to have come so far and to want so little.”


I am very much a rules-following type of person, so if someone told me it’s “expected” that I do something a certain way, I will probably feel very uncomfortable doing it differently. I think she must feel kind of the same; when it’s your job to uphold order and tradition and history, and you’ve known that your whole life, well …


…which was why I tried to make the point that the Royals own things in their personal capacity and then there is the stuff they own as “the Queen” or “the Duke of Cornwall”.[quote=“SheiffFatman, post:32, topic:103302”]
To suggest that in the event of a change in our constitutional set-up that this effectively public land should become someone’s private property is risible.

Well, I think that’s where opinions differ.

Not so much in terms of what would happen practically should we ever decide to get rid of the monarchy (as you say the Windsors aren’t going to get the Crown Estate back) but the problem ultimately is that we don’t actually have that neat a separation between the office and the person.

We sort of pretend there is and for practical purposes that works but constitutionally when one strips away all the conventions, all power in the United Kingdom flows from the Crown and the Crown is whoever happens to be monarch at the time.

That’s the problem with a system based on putting the chap who could get enough of his thuggish mates to help him to beat up everyone else in charge. In English law at least (don’t know about Scotland) the thug-in-chief owns everything, everyone else only gets to have anything if the King says so.

Over time, we’ve accreted this set of rules whereby we sort of realise that the Head Boy only gets to be in charge if the Prefects do what he says and that the prefects are powerless if the spotty 4th Formers stop letting them push them around but instead of getting rid of the whole system we just set it up so that we let the plebs elect the Prefects (or MPs) and the Prefects tell the Head Boy (or Girl) what instructions to give to the Prefects.

Effectively, the responsibility for running the country hasn’t shifted, legally it’s still all up to the Monarch, the Monarch hires and fires civil servants, the Army, etc. We just control what the Monarch gets to tell us to do.

While we could get rid of the monarchy, the legal system and everything else is really strongly set up to have that central point from which all power and authority flows (and where responsibility ends up). As we found out back after the Civil War, getting rid of the Monarch is easier said than done - we ended up with a Lord Protector which was of course just a King with a different title.

After Oliver died, they put poor Richard in charge which I suppose did show up the major benefit of an actual monarchy.

If you have a hereditary monarchy, then as long as the monarch is just a figurehead, having someone unpopular or perceived as bonkers (naming no names but talking to plants, homeopathy?) as monarch is just one of those little problems that crop up from time to time. If you’ve actually selected your figurehead, people start to feel responsible for them and think they need to do something about it.

And as we all know the first rule of effective government is to make sure that the populace don’t feel strongly enough about anything to want to do anything or even worse, change things.

I got that… :smile:

Personally, I tend to come down on the side of saying that while it’s a pretty ridiculous set-up, it’s not worth the hassle to abolish the monarchy. We’d just end up with some President swanning about and unless we went the Zaphod Beeblebrox route, I don’t think that’s worth it.

I do agree very much with your point about the Royal Prerogative. It also comes up with Parliamentary Sovereignty.

It always amuses me when pro-Brexiters support leaving the EU on the basis of making parliament supreme again and the EU being ‘undemocratic’. So in order to have a more democratic system, they’d prefer to have a system under which a bunch of people they didn’t vote for have entirely unlimited power ultimately derived from the historical authority of a bloke with a sharp bit of metal?


Apparently, the Queen loves driving - has done ever since World War II when she trained as an ambulance driver.

The only place she gets to do it is around Windsor Castle (rarely) and Sandringham…


It’s an awkward phrasing in that it seems to conflate the desires of the people(pro-monarchy by pretty solid margins, from everything I’ve seen) with the good of the people(less obviously advanced by maintaining one); but there is a fairly solid argument to be made that the British monarchy retains it’s fairly high profile because it is pretty popular(actually abolishing it would probably involve enough procedural hurdles that it could play rearguard for ages; but being relegated to a few specific functions and otherwise made to feel unwelcome cold happen a lot faster); so, while ‘popular’ and ‘good’ aren’t obviously equivalent; I can’t really argue with the notion that the royals (in their present form; not whatever as-little-as-we-can-get-away-with-without-major-constitutional-tinkering form) exist substantially because the public wants them to.

It would be interesting to know how many, if any, royals decided that it really wasn’t such a bad gig after all if they lost access to all the perks and real estate and had to go work real jobs; but I can see that being born into being a child celebrity with no end in sight wouldn’t necessarily strike them as a win, especially when their social circles include plenty of hereditary money that enjoys similar levels of insulation from the real world; but a much lower profile and fewer ceremonial obligations.

If the alternative were a shit zero-hour contract and an incendiary council flat, they might reconsider; but I know I’d rather be medium-sized private fortune of no real public visibility than I would royalty; and the royals likely know quite a few people in that position(and I think some of them have reasonably respectable real qualifications, if not necessarily real skills, certainly no worse than the people who squirm into elected positions, so at least some of them could likely do OK ‘on their own’, at least now that the quality education and bulging Rolodex have been taken care of.)


She allegedly once terrified a Saudi prince by giving him a tour of Balmoral in her Land Rover:


She’s also not required to have a driver’s license or plates on her car. Because she’d be issuing them to herself, I guess.