So, the bunting’s up, our little flags are ready, and with a double bank holiday, we should all be bulging to the brim with Jubilee fever. However, for many comrades the celebration of the monarch is still taboo.
I know, I know, the Labour Party should never be the party of inherited wealth, hereditary power or undemocratic principles, all running deep against our party’s soul. However, only 13% of the population want a republic, more people believe their local kebab man is Elvis (probably).
The party line is not anti-monarchy, which considering the 13% support is probably a wise move. Yet, it feels de rigeur to be a republican within Labour circles, with people looking at you like you’re a simpleton, or a right-wing nutcase, or twee countryside bumpkin if you declare your support for the Queen.
Some of the arguments used against the monarchy are fair. They are rich, and inheritance tax does not apply to those who are a ‘One’ rather than an ‘I’. However, would our hypothetical President have to pass a poverty test? And do we really want national treasures such as Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle having to be sold – most of us wouldn’t, I hope.
In fact, the monetary issue is the most emotive aspect, as well as the most unimportant of the whole debate. The Crown Estate generated £230m for the Treasury coffers last year, with the family receiving a £7.9m civil list payment back. I’ve never bought into the pseudo-science of the added tourist value, but there’s that as well. Still, as I said, when discussing who to be our head of state, do we really want it to come down to a question of wealth?
We cannot start from scratch and build the whole political system again – and if we did; I’m sure we wouldn’t have unelected Lords, part-time MPs doubling up as minsters, a Speaker wearing garters, a Black Rod and last but not least, we would obviously not have an unelected Head of State.
We would have to draw up a list of things we want from a Head of State. For me, my job description would want an independent, non-partisan statesman. The damage of having a George Bush being the representive of a nation makes me shudder. Having a neutral buffer between the politics of a nation, and the people of the nation is a huge asset.
I would want someone who is unconcerned for their own future, with duty and service and the well-being of the country as their top concern, over and above their party, their pension, their next job or election.
I would want someone ideally with an unblemished record, someone who has the power to bring the country together in bad times, and unite in joy at the good, someone who is a figurehead for the nation. I may be getting a tad gushing here, but I think you can see where I’m headed.
The monarchy is anti-democratic, perhaps, but the power is theoretical at best, and if the nuclear option of the royal prerogative was ever used, the people would be the ultimate arbiters.
The constitutional monarchy may not be perfect, but show me a political system that is.
Perhaps one day, we may need a serious discussion about the monarchy, if the minority becomes something larger than it is now…tiny.
However, for this weekend only we celebrate an old lady who has dedicated her life to duty, who has done it with honour and dignity, who gives us pride and a sense of Britishness, a tie to our past and a link to our future. So whether you’re Labour or not, that’s something surely we can all share in.