I am currently watching the Royal Wedding while joining Republic, who campaign for a democratic alternative to the monarchy. It’s time that we had a sensible debate about the constitutional role of the monarchy.
Yes, this particular breakfast activity does seem like a contradiction, but, well, apart from being basically very nosy and partial to the historical appeal of the pomp and ceremony, I think it’s an important chance to start a much wider national conversation about the role of inherited privilege in our politics.
I ‘met’ the Queen once, when she came to Cabinet Office to thank us for doing a good job during the Coalition negotiations. Again, it was pure nosiness that made me go and stand in line with my colleagues as she walked past smiling and nodding at us. She actually does have a kind of aura about her, a sort of shimmer, even though the only jewellery she wore was a diamond broach the size of a satsuma.
However, for me, it’s clear that the Queen is the last of a certain type of monarch who have this regality, sense of duty and discipline. From Charles downwards they very much have feet, if not complete lower limbs, of clay. It seems unlikely that he would be able to go from being so outspoken on many subjects to maintaining the kind of distance and neutrality the Queen at least appears to be able to.
I actually don’t have a very firm view yet on what the democratic alternative to the monarchy ought to be, and could accept that there could be a ceremonial role for them, along the Danish or Spanish models. The most important thing is that we actually have a national conversation about this.
While I am sneakily interested in what’s going on today, the media’s blanket coverage is rather wearing. Poor old Sian Williams was yesterday standing in front of a man sweeping up horse droppings outside an empty Westminster Abbey trying to find something, anything, to say.
It is all quite sycophantic though, and Republic has a thing called BBC Watch which encourages people to help the organisation show whether the coverage is biased in favour of the monarchy, in the belief that this stifles proper debate about any alternatives.
As they say: “[We want] the best democracy we can create, a democracy that genuinely puts you, us, in charge. Our children should be inspired to believe they can achieve anything they want and our democracy should encourage that sense of aspiration. We should all be encouraged to take responsibility for our own political affairs, and our democracy should embody that responsibility.
This post also appears at demsoc.org