Well they have finally announced that they are going to get married. I for one will be raising a cheer.Nor do I take the cynical view expressed on the today programme:
But nor do I take the total opposite view that it is great to have a monarch. I don’t believe in the divine right of kings and in fact our experience of a republic under Oliver Cromwell was far from being the great negative experience that it has often been portrayed as in the past.
No my reasoning is all about what is best for society and the country. Republics are reasonable and sensible forms of government. But Britain, although the 5th largest economy and with the 4th largest armed forces, does not exert as much influence as it did. But one institution that gives us added influence in the world is the Queen.
The person who is respected in the old Commonwealth countries is the Queen. She has influence. She has a status reserved in our media saturated age that does not diminish.
Prince William has shown himself to be both wary of the media as well as a hugely savvy operator. Giving his mother’s engagement ring to Catherine (as we must now call her seemingly) showed symbolically that he was combining the popularity of his mother with the strength of his grandmother. His attempts to protect Catherine have shown that he is learning from the difficulties of the past.
Of course, it would make sense for the monarchy, as an institution, that when the current Queen dies that William ascend the throne. I suspect that won’t happen but it would be the smart move. A republic would mean that we got re-hashed politicians. President Blair anyone?
The monarchy brings us influence on the world stage. It allows for a non-party unity. Indeed the costs for the monarchy are pretty minimal compared to many presidents around the world and it acts as a tourism attraction.
Is a monarch necessary? No. On strict equality grounds is a monarch desirable? No. But on the influence of our country on the world stage it proves itself to be remarkably useful. Just because something is inconsistent doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful.
One other thing. Everyone who is anyone (which obviously doesn’t cover me) will be invited to the wedding. The Obamas are bound to be there (any betting a daughter might be a bridesmaid? At least its less cruel than the middle ages marrying daughters of rulers off to gain influence). It will add to the goodwill of the country in the world.
Cost of the wedding? Have a huge one for us all to enjoy and charge the networks that want to show it to vast audiences around the world a good fee. Everyone revels in it and the costs are covered. Sorted.
Thought Michael White’s article in the Guardian rather good. I especially liked this quote:
Me, I view the House of Windsor as a form of hereditary presidency, one that provides much fun as well as a focus for decent apolitical loyalty without the fuss of having to elect a usually undistinguished and elderly politician. Did you see the Queen in the rain at the Cenotaph? Pretty good for 84, I thought.