Tag Archives: monarchy

A powerful drama that must not become reality

 

Many of you will have seem the recent television adaptation of Mike Bartlett’s play, King Charles III.

Beautifully and movingly written, in Shakespearean style blank verse, the play is set in the near future, when “King Charles III” has just inherited the throne.

Charles is asked to sign a piece of legislation that would severely limit the freedom of the press. He refuses to do so. He is portrayed as principled and conflicted. He has no wish to cause a constitutional crisis. His conscience just will not allow him to sign.

When Parliament plan to proceed with the legislation anyway, Charles uses his legal right to dissolve Parliament.

I will not give away any “spoilers” about how this fictional situation is resolved. But the play made me wonder how likely it is that such a situation could occur in real life. The worrying fact is that it is quite possible. I am not suggesting that Prince Charles, when he becomes king, would ever behave like his fictional counterpart in this play. But unless the rules are changed, some future monarch could easily do so.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 35 Comments

Royal access to official secrets must stop

In recent days it has been revealed that Prince Charles and Prince William have access to UK official secrets. Charles “routinely receives” secret documents including Cabinet papers. It is not clear whether access stops at the two of them.

This is entirely inappropriate and should cease.

In a democracy, control of the state rests, or should rest, with the elected government. A monarch’s role is purely ceremonial and should entail no real control over any part of the state. The Queen (or William, Charles, George or another person who may succeed her) is unqualified to exercise power, has not been chosen by the people to do so, is subject to few checks and balances and is not accountable to the electorate.

Ministers, officials and others sometimes need access to official secrets to do their work, although almost none have unfettered access. An individual can see secret material relevant to their duties. As members of the Royal Family, William and Charles have no public duties to which secret material could be relevant.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 35 Comments

Opinion: On black spiders, royalty and liberalism

The release last week of Prince Charles’ letters to Ministers – the so-called “black spider letters” – offers a once in a lifetime window (and one unlikely to be repeated, thanks to the 2011 amendments to the Freedom if Information Act exempting royal correspondence from FoI disclosure – inexplicably supported by our party in coalition) into the workings of the British ‘system’, and the influence of the royals in the process of our ‘democratic government’.

I hope that, as liberals, all Liberal Democrats would agree that political power derives from the exercise of the people’s democratic rights at the ballot box, and that no-one should be able to exercise political power, nor exert undue influence on the political process, simply by virtue of birth or connections. This is why we have argued for democratic reform of the House of Lords, for example.

Yet, in the black spider letters we see both the absolute expectation of Charles that his views are relevant, important and to be listened to, as well as the sycophantic grovelling of ‘commoner’ Ministers towards the royal point of view (that “I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant” sign-off of Charles Clarke must surely stick in the craw of every socialist).

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats should support abolishing the Monarchy – and it is the right time to do so

I am a keen student of history, and have no shortage of fascination with the British Monarchy, its colourful progress, and its chequered evolution. And I do believe it has evolved, as often with grace as with indignity. In that sense, I have a certain level of ‘respect’ for the Monarchy, and certainly for some of the figures who constitute it at present. Yet, as far back as I can remember, I have though it should be abolished. Why?

Rather than lay out all the old arguments, I will focus solely on one argument for Abolition. I will do this, because it is (I believe) a liberal principle, and because I think it is hugely persuasive, and rarely aired. It is this: for the fair treatment of the Royal Family themselves, current and yet unborn, that we must abolish the Monarchy.

The British Royal Family, whatever it may once have been, is now a captive family. The institution consists at its peak of a household who are held, for our perceived benefit, in the gaze of the public eye and a web of constitutional precedent.  The Windsor family consists of real individuals, and we should never forget that. I know many will sneer at my concern for a very rich household, with all life’s advantages… but is that really their position?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 62 Comments

Opinion: Reform of the Duchy of Cornwall – on the cards?

Lord Berkeley’s “Rights of the Sovereign and Duchy of Cornwall Bill” is due to have its second reading in the Lords on 8 November. He has been quoted as saying he wants to “provoke a debate”, and it may be supposed that Bill is likely to be defeated at its second reading. As it would affect the Prince’s private interests, it would require his consent in order to progress. He has given his consent to several bills in the past, according to the Parliament website. It is surprising how many bills require his consent. This is

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Majority of Lib Dem members back monarchy – but 40% would prefer UK to become a Republic

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

44% want Charles as King, 9% prefer Wills: 40% want neither

Thinking about the future monarch, which of the following would you prefer?
Prince Charles - Some rights reserved by University Hospitals Birmingham

    44% – Prince Charles should succeed as King after Queen Elizabeth II

    9% – Prince William should succeed as King after Queen Elizabeth II instead of Prince Charles

    40% – Neither – there should be no monarch after Queen Elizabeth II

    6% – Don’t know

By 53% to 40%, our sample of Lib Dem members opt for monarchy over a republic. As ever, though, those headline figures include a span of opinion revealed in the comments.

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , and | 17 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrats for a republic

Liberal Democrats believe in democracy. Indeed ‘Democrats’ is in our title.

We believe in representative democracy, from parish councils to (though we’re still fighting for it) the House of Lords.

We believe those who make the laws of our land should be voted for by the people of our land.
Government of, for and by the people.

We believe this should be extended to those occupying the highest positions in British Government.

If we believe, as we rightly do, that no peer of the realm should be able to be a legislator just because of who they were born to or who …

Posted in Op-eds | 52 Comments
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