Open Thinkering


Tag: monarchy


Not 'King Relevant

Today, a man who is a year old than my dad is going to put on a hat and sit on a chair. Somehow, in doing so, he’ll cost taxpayers over £100 million. This, at a time when apparently there are more food banks than McDonald’s outlets in the UK. Food banks which are being accessed by key workers such as nurses who are striking for better pay.

I think what sticks in the throat a little is that there is no legal requirement for a coronation. As a recent series of podcasts from The Guardian showed, there’s a real public/private murkiness to royal family’s assets. They can, and probably should, have paid for it themselves.

Meanwhile, because the UK’s answer to everything is more surveillance and authoritarianism, the government has fast-tracked anti-protest legislation. This is in addition to existing powers. Lest we forget, a barrister was threatened with arrest for holding up a blank piece of paper during the ‘official mourning period’. The police officer involved claimed that he might have offended someone if he had written “Not My King” on it.

This, ladies and gentlemen, and people who identify differently, is the UK in which I, and some of you, reside. Monarchy is an anachronism. Most other European countries got rid of theirs around a century ago. It’s time to ‘retire’ ours, too.

Poster by Katherine Anteney. Photo by Sequin World.

5 reasons I won’t be celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

I can’t believe I have to write this in 2022, but I will not be celebrating the country I was born in having the same monarch for 70 years. This is for the following reasons, amongst others:

  1. I am a believer in democracy. You may say that the monarch provides only a ceremonial function, rather than wielding any power. But in that case why bother? We have an unwritten constitution in the UK precisely because of the vestiges of the past, of which monarchy is part. To be a true citizen we need a codified set of legal documents rather than the hodge-podge of legal outcomes, treaties, and Acts of Parliament we have at the moment.
  2. Monarchy is unaccountable. Appointing a head of state using hereditary principles is elitist, undemocratic, and unfair. The very existence of an unelected head of state means that the Prime Minister is invested with ‘royal prerogative’ powers such as going to war or signing treaties without going through the usual democratic processes in Parliament.
  3. The royal family are celebrities at taxpayers’ expense. The Queen is by far the biggest landowner in the UK, but holds offshore accounts to avoid paying even voluntary taxes. And of course, security is picked up by UK taxpayers, so the cost is much higher than the pitifully small number which is sometimes used to indicate ‘good value’.
  4. Our national anthem is unrepresentative. It should not be about one person (or family). Many people, including me, find it embarrassing to have a national anthem that asks a deity to prolong the life of a monarch. It’s anachronistic and unreasonable in the 21st century. I should not, nor should new citizens, have to swear an oath of allegiance to an unelected head of state.
  5. Having a state religion is reactionary. The monarch is head of state and also head of the Church of England. This means we are not a secular state, and bolsters extremists and nationalists who peddle ‘replacement theory’. We should be multicultural from top-to-bottom, as befits a modern country.

Monarchy is no longer what a great majority of people want. There is a significant medium-term trend downwards in popularity of the royal family, as shown by the graph below taken from here.

So I encourage you, as we come towards the end of the reign of one monarch, to support the idea of finding a way to avoid replacing them with another.