Tomorrow the UK and 15 other Comonwealth Realms will celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Only one other monarch in Commonwealth history has reached the 60 year mark of rule, and that was Queen Victoria who was on the throne for 63 years. It is very probable, that Elizabeth II will surpass this total, and if I was a betting man, there is a good chance that in ten years time, there could be a celebration of a Platinum Jubilee. Unlike the Golden Jubilee in 2002 which kind of got melded into the Millenuim Celebrations, the Diamond Jubilee has stood out on its own, and will probably be more appreciated than the upcoming Olympic Games in London. It helps that two bank holidays have been strapped nto this weekend – everybody loves time off. Or in my case, extra money for working on those days…
But once the dust settles, and life gets back to normal, here is a question to answer. Can and should Great Britain become a republic. Yes, should the United Kingdom loose the ‘Kingdom’ in ts title and become the United Republic by ditching the Queen as its head of state? Well, here is my own, very personal opinion on the subject.
In effect, the UK is a republic, and more importantly, it is democratic. While all the titles of various public bodies have the term ‘Royal’, ‘Crown’ or something else that implies a connection to Her Majesty, the Queen wields no power. While laws would have to be changed, so that everything operates legally, it would in effect just be a rebranding exercise. Flipping to a republic would just mean dotting a few i’s and crossing a few t’s. That is that. And it has happened before at the end of the Civil War…
But should the UK become a republic? While there are some die hard republicans in the UK who believe that the Queen should be tried for Treason, theft and all matter of other grandiose crimes, the bulk of the population – at the moment running at 80% – is in favour of retaining the monarchy. It will be interesting to see what this figure will be once a new monarch ascends the throne after Elizabeth II, but for now Britain is going to remain as a Kingdom and will probably do so as long as the country exists on a map.
So, what is my opinion? Well, I am unashamedly Republican in theory (I believe that all hereditary positions are parasitical), but in practice I am a Monarchist. How do I hold these dual views? Well, it is quite simple; I live in the UK, and I pay my taxes, so I will hold those views, as it is my right to do so. What does that mean in reality?
If I was setting up a new country tomorrow, it would be a republic. Like the bulk of new countries that have established themsevles during the past seventy years, only a few of them have chosen a hereditary Head of State. However, if there was a vote tomorrow, or during any part of my lifetime about whether Britain should become a republic, I would always vote in favour to keep the monarchy.
Well, it works. As strange as it sounds, as so out of place as the concept of monarchy is in the 21st Century, I would still vote to keep Elizabeth II or any of her descendents above me in the official pecking order. Do not ask me why, but I would not want a President Blair or Cameron smiling at me as I entered the arrivals hall of Heathrow Airport, nor would I want to lick anyone else’s head as I send my letters to their far flung destinations. For now, I am happy as I am, living in a kingdon, a United Kingdom. The UK is an odd country in many respects. Laws are not applied evenly across the country (Scots Law vs the Laws of England and Wales), there are varying levels of democracy across the land(devolution) and the changes from one part of Britain to the next (check out London compared to the rest of the UK) are vast for such a small island.
Britain is a strange country, and the monarchy adds into the blend of weirdness abut the UK. The monarchy is one of those things that makes Britain, British. Simmilarly to keeping the Imperial system of measures and weights for some parts of our daily lives like drinks but not others like petrol, keeping a monarchy makes Britain unique amongst the blandness of the world. Yes, we are a democracy, but on our own terms.
To be blunt, the system works very well. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
So in light of all f this, while I will not be celebrating the Jubilee, I am very happy to be earning some extra cash for the fact that will be working through it. And whether you are waving a flag, making yourself a lovely cup of tea or simply taking time off, enjoy the Diamond Jubilee tomorrow. Because such an event will probably not happen for a long time to come…