It’s not democratic, it’s passed down from parent to children and it involves living a totally 5 star life with not much work. Two large city residences come with the job and 4 or 5 beautiful country houses are yours to use and they have a full staff of servants to make your life even more pleasant. Bored with the country? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of foreign travel. You don’t have to pass any exams for this job or show that you’re particularly good at the job.
Don’t get too excited though, you can’t apply for this job. The job title is Queen of England. Did you guess?
As you know, we’ve just had a celebration of 60 years of the reign of Elizabeth II. At times like this, when you see the Royal family every day, it’s natural to examine your opinion about the monarchy. Is it a good idea? Does it work? Should we change to a presidential system?
As a democrat and an egalitarian with slightly left-wing opinions, you would expect me to disapprove of the monarchy but I don’t. This surprises me too . I’m not a great fan of the monarchy. You won’t find me waiting at the gates of Buckingham Palace to see the Queen or a possible princess go past in a car. I think those people need to get a life or psychological help.
So why do so many British support this system? There are various common reasons given.
Foreigners like it. This idea is that foreign tourists like the idea of the tradition and glamour of the royal family and wouldn’t come so much if all the palaces were empty.
- Who needs more elections? With national and local elections and euro- elections, most people are not enthusiastic about more election campaigns, more expenses, more promises.
- They are a true symbol of the country and provide a strong ‘brand image’ for the UK.
- They have no political position so they can meet comfortably with foreign leaders of all political views.
- They are not corrupt and have never will be.
Well, all these may be true but I don’t find them particularly strong reasons for having a Queen in the 21st century. I only realised the other day why I was happy to have a monarchy. It was during the celebrations for the Jubilee ( 60 years with the same queen). People said that the celebrations ‘brought everyone together’ and I suddenly realised that this was the most important thing.
If we had a president, there would always be some reason for people to be against him. Maybe he was from a political party you don’t support, or he was a business man and probably did some harm to some people, or he’s got certain views you don’t agree with. Lots of possible reasons.
With the queen, none of these problems can be true. We know that she just does her job to the best o f her ability and doesn’t take one side of an argument. She’s just a symbol of the country and has no ambitions beyond that. Everyone can support that and feel comfortable with that idea.
So, am I a monarchist? No, not really. Do I think we should change it? No, it works OK the way it is.