Finding the Relevance of BRITISH MONARCHY in 21st Century

On September 8, Queen Elizabeth, the second longest serving monarch in history, took her last breath. As her tenure, which spanned from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, also brought an end to an era, it’s a nice time to understand the system and then discuss the relevance of ‘The British Monarchy’ today in the 21st century.

Also Read: My Article on the Political History of PAKISTAN

A Brief History of Monarchy in Britain

First of all, for those who don’t know, Monarchy is a Greek word which means ‘one ruler’. The first root of Monarchy in Britain goes back to 829 BC by King Egbert. It was followed by different monarchs in different parts, but the most significant phase comes when King James VI establishes the kingdoms of Scotland and England in 1603. In 1707, the two countries became one through the Act of Union. In 1801, finally, Ireland too was included in the union, and the country was called… Great Britain. Initially, the Monarch had absolute powers and they had a group of clergy to advise them. But, slowly resentment started building against the monarchy regarding the religious disagreements with Church and also because of the economic policies.

Wales, Scotland and Ireland also started the demand for liberation and it led to a series of wars between 1642-51, known as The War of Three Kingdoms. Finally, in 1649, the monarchy was defeated by the revolutionaries and the then monarch Charles-I was executed. That was the end of ‘execution powers’ for the monarch in Britain. After that Oliver Cromwell lead the country as Lord Protector for 11 years under the period called Interregnum. Then, Charles II though took over as the monarch, but all the powers now had come down to the executives and the monarchy was restricted to choosing their successors. It is that very system which is still in existence with few amendments. It was also followed by Britain expanding wildly across the globe and the British monarch also becoming the head of the state.

Kings and Queens of England & Britain - Historic UK

Pic: The Roots of British Monarchy 

The Current System

The British monarch is still the sovereign head of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. Basically, the UK is a ‘Constitutional  Monarchy’, so although the monarch is the formal head of the state, the actual power rests with the British Parliament and Constitution. Although it looks just representative there are certain duties of the monarch. It is the monarch who appoints the British Prime Minister. She starts the parliamentary session and makes state visits as the head of the council. Other than this, the British monarch is also the head of the defence forces, the head of the judiciary and also the head of the civil services. Significantly, the monarch is also the head of the ‘Church’.

Till 1760, the monarch used to pay all its expenses from hereditary revenue sources only. But, it changed in 1760 which was followed by some further amendments. In 2011, Sovereign Grant Act was enacted which replaced the Civil List. This exempted the British monarchy from paying any income tax, and also from paying the wealth tax or inherited property tax.

Infographic: The UK's royal line of succession explained | Infographic News | Al Jazeera

Pic: British Monarchy Family Tree 

The SYSTEM of Crown

As we know that the crown is hereditary in nature, so it passes through generations. The eldest child of the King or Queen is the first in line to inherit the throne irrespective of whether he is a boy or a girl. All the children are called ‘Prince or Princess of Wales’. The drill here is that once the eldest child heads the throne, all his smaller siblings almost lose the chance to EVER get to the throne. The baton will now be passed only to the children of the one who is heading the throne.

But there is a huge flip side of the system, the British monarchy is an elite and royal place, so if someone marries a divorcee or a foreign national, he or she won’t be a part of the Royal family anymore. We saw what happened when Prince Harry married Meghan Markle a divorcee from the US. A similar thing was seen when the current King Charles married Diana Spencer, divorce and death which is still a mystery for many.

Royal mourning to last 7 days after queen's funeral: Buckingham Palace

Pic: The Legacy of Queen Elizabeth 

The Legacy of Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth, the full name Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. Her father George VI was not the eldest in the family so logically could never have inherited the throne. But, the eldest son in the generation Edward VIII (Elizabeth’s uncle) married a woman named Wallis Simpson, a US citizen who was a two-time divorcee. Now, that is a CRIME in the Royal family. He had to leave the Royal family once and for all, and George VI got the chance. Elizabeth known as Lilliot at that time stayed along with sister Margaret in Windsor castle during the time of WWII. Elizabeth married Former King Philip in 1947. King Edward died in 1952 because of ill health. Elizabeth was in Kenya representing the King when she got the news.

Elizabeth formally accepted the crown in 1953 at the age of 27, in front of a record TV audience of 20 million people. In 1948, Prince Charles (the current King) was born, followed by Princess Annie, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward (all three have almost lost the chance of ever getting to the throne). She is the second-longest serving monarch in history with a tenure of 60 years (Louis XIV being the longest with 72 years). She was the monarch from the times of post-WWII austerity and went through the transformation of Britain from an empire to the Commonwealth era to the current era, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss… spanning the era of Queen Elizabeth. And as Liz Truss rightly said, “She was the rock on which modern Britain was built”. 

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Operation London Bridge

As we already know, the King or Queen in Britain is the supreme head of the state. So, the death of the supreme head means the country is ‘vulnerable’. To counter such a situation, Operation London Bridge was prepared back in 1960 itself. According to this, as soon as the queen died, her private secretary called PM Liz Truss and said “London Bridge is down”.

After that, all the 15 countries whose head of state was Queen Elizabeth, were notified. It was followed by notifying all the Commonwealth nations. Then a person wearing black came and put the notice on the gate of Buckingham Palace which read “The Queen died peacefully”.Also, this was followed by an alarm at the BBC, after which every anchor and presenter at the media house only appeared in black.

Notice of Queen's death fixed to gates of Buckingham Palace | Metro News

Pic: Notice being put outside the Royal Palace

The Cost of British Monarchy

Now, after all the goody-goody talks are done with, let me be a little serious. The Royal Family is exempted from paying any taxes, they are exempted from the anti-discrimination laws, they need not make any drivers’ license or passport both are already issued under the name of ‘Her Majesty’, the King or Queen can’t be charged under the civil or criminal suit, and she is also free from giving an explanation under the Freedom of Information Act Now, do you know how much is spent on the Royal family annually…whopping 80 million Euros. This is the highest in the whole European continent, there are some other monarchs as well in Europe, but none even touch 10% of what the Britishers are spending.

Now, for a fair discussion let us also look at the arguments in favour of Monarchy. The Royal family is considered the unifying force in the country. Since a monarch is above the party lines and politics, they can hold the whole country like glue. They are expected to do philanthropy irrespective of any political bias. ‘Annual Christmas broadcast’ and ‘Trooping Colours’ are other functions carried by them. It is also estimated that the Ambassador’s role played by the British monarchy contributed to British tourism and trade. Now, to be very frank, I don’t find any of these arguments worth of spending 80 million Euros. A whole family is doing absolutely nothing except taking birth and they are being bestowed with all the facilities in the world.

Queen Elizabeth's funeral is scheduled for Sept. 19. : NPR

Pic: British Royal Family at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth

The DEBATE for Monarchy Today

First of all, I am not the only one talking about it. Among the British youth,  around 41% of the population in the 18-24 age group believes that the monarchy should be abolished. Now that’s some huge numbers from the British youth.

Well, the monarchy today represents the fact that Britain is a country that colonized almost the whole world, extracted and juiced out the very last ounce of labour and resources, left the countries in a poor and miserable state, ‘orchestrated’ famines and carried out ‘massacres’ across various parts of the world and millions died revolting against it just because Britain wanted ‘more’. Has the crown EVER apologised for what happened under its rule? Has the ‘rich’ Crown ever given repayment to any place it left in a dire state after colonizing it? Then, how come it is a unifying force.

The Royal family has still not come over Racism. Anyone who marries a divorcee or a foreign national is thrown out of th Royal family, that’s the level of acceptability they have. Some people in the West call India a land of ‘Snake Charmers’ when they are themselves busy worshipping an unemployed Crown who has inherited everything through a ‘Chor Bazaar’ as Dr Shashi Tharoor famously says. They still haven’t given up the colonial mindset and self-proclaims themselves as the head of the state of 15 more countries. I think Barbados did right by becoming sovereign and removing the Queen as its head of state.

If someone expects me to have respect or sympathy for the British Monarchy, then frankly get lost, you are talking to the wrong person. I have absolutely ZERO regards for a group of Dynasts for being the RICHEST UNEMPLOYED people in the world. In my opinion, the British Monarchy today only represents oppression, loot and a colonial past, which somewhere in the back of its mind, Britain is still ‘proud’ of.

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