Tuesday 11 April 2006

The Monarchy

"The monarchy as embodying our fundamental values," I wrote. What do I mean by "our fundamental values"? I mean such (closely connected) good things as national self-government (the only basis for international co-operation, and including the United Kingdom as greater than the sum of its parts), local variation, historical consciousness, religion, family life, agriculture, manufacturing, small business, close-knit communities, law and order, civil liberties, academic standards, all forms of art, mass political participation within a constitutional framework, and the sanctity of ecah individual human life from the point of fertilisation to the point of natural death, all of which free market capitalism corrodes to nought, whether directly or by driving despairing millions into the arms of the equally corrosive Jacobinism, Marxism, anarchism or Fascism.
By embodying these conservative values, mortally endangered by that most anti-conservative force which is capitalism, the monarchy (like the hereditary peerage, which I sould also have so embody) compels the universal Welfare State and the strong statutory (including trade union) protection of workers, consumers, communities and the environment, the former paid for by progressive taxation, the whole underwritten by full employment, and all these good things delivered by the partnership between a strong Parliament and strong local government: in a word, Socialism. Correspondingly, Socialism compels adherence to the above conservative values. Or else why bother with it? Why would anyone want or need Socialism, if not to conserve those goods both against capitalism and against the evils to which capitalism drives its victims?
This is what the monarchy properly embodies by compelling and compels by embodying in all 16 Commonwealth Realms (each of which, including Britain, remains so entirely by choice), in each of the 10 British Overseas Territories with permanent populations (which remain British entirely by choice), in each of the three Crown Dependencies (which remain so entirely by choice), in each of the three inhabited territories (voluntarily) dependent on Australia, in the one inhabited territory (voluntarily) dependent on New Zealand, and in each of the two states in free association with New Zealand, as well as in relation to the Melanesian half of the people of Fiji (the other half being descended from Indian indentured labour), whose Great Council of Chiefs (which elects the President) continues to acknowledge the Queen as Paramount Chief even though Fiji became a republic following two coups in 1987 (and has not exactly had a happy history since). This gives the minimum, if admittedly quaint, figure of thirty-five and a half countries (although Saint Helena's Dependencies of Ascension Island and, especially, Tristan da Cunha are also very distinct), every one of them now an elective democracy, with the only weak link in the country (Fiji) with the weakest link to the Crown. Not to mention that the Crown binds together the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom, of which inherent generosity of spirit all the rest is a natural and beautiful extension.
We are one family, even though any member is free to leave at any time; indeed, we are if anything even stronger by virtue of that freedom. What our unifying institution represents has never been more important than in today's world. If a member of my family were put in danger, then I should do everything in my power to rescue him or her. Today, a member of this family is in danger: the Commonwealth Realm that is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland faces the impending enactment of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (which is just the sort of thing that my proposed Grand Committe of Hereditary Peers would ensure was blocked by a referendum). The other thirty-four governments in our family, and the Great Council of Chiefs of Fiji, must be called upon to petition each of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William, to give the assurance, at least of always dissolving the British Parliament after five years.
After all, if such a threat faced the democracy of the Commonwealth Realm that is Saint Lucia, or Jamaica, or Papua New Guinea, or Tuvalu, is it conceivable that there would be no intervention by, from and on behalf of the family as a whole? It is not. So what is the difference? There is no difference.
Finally, the constitutional monarchies on the Continent might define themselves in the above terms: conservative by being Socialist, Socialist in order to be conservative. At least implicitly, if not explictly, they already do. The African monarchies of Swaziland and Lesotho (Commonwealth countries both) might also come to do so, as might the (Commonwealth) monarchy of Tonga. And in Asia? Or is it all too bound up with Christianity for that?

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