Friday, 29 April 2011

Unelected Yet Unpolitical

A million people lined the streets to cheer them on. That's according to the police anyway. I've often wondered how they calculate figures like that. Well, not that often.

The royal wedding brought with it the typical twitter polemic. I'm not in the habit of quoting tweets and I'm not going to start now. I will quote a hashtag though. #ashamedtobebritish started trending as a response to the #proudtobebritish trend turning peoples collective stomach.

It was the ideas of deference, class privilege and unelected power that was getting the former's goat and the flag waving romance and fairy tale nature of the thing that was doing whatever the opposite of getting one's goat is for the latter.

Personally I find all the hysteria a little hard to bear and I am incredulous at people lining the streets for hours or days on end. Honestly, what do they do all day?

Although it might not be my cup of tea at least they were getting in to the spirit of things. The #ashamedtobebritish crowd missed the point.

The idea that Britain has something to be ashamed about by having an unelected head of state is way of target. There are lots of reasons why it's so wide of the mark but let's stick with the biggest reason. Royal's don't have any power. I know, weird isn't it? Some part of our consciousness will always struggle with this notion but it doesn't stop it being true.

The role of the monarch is not to wield power of any kind. Should Liz II disagree with anything Parliament wishes to do she can do nothing about it. In fact, she has less power than an ordinary citizen (that's right, not subjects. Another anachronism used by the #ashamed crowd). She can not make her voice heard on any political issue.

The monarch's role is to represent the nation. By this I do not mean represent every individual or group in the country. That should be Parliament's job. Would you feel better represented by a President Blair or Cameron? The royal family represent Britain's historical institutions and what has made Britain the country it is today and what will shape its future.

With a monarch as non-executive head of state politicians are reminded that their glory is transient. Their careers will end but the country will endure. A non-political, unelected head of state reminds the Government that it is the country that they serve not just their political supporters and short term goals. Let the politicians fight for our affections while the country rises above it all.

Once you realise this the other criticisms such as deference and privilege can be seen in a different light. Your are not bowing or curtsying merely to a posh individual. You are showing respect to the nation itself.

So congratulations to the happy couple and may they ensure the continuation of the family. Just don't expect to see me lining the Mall. I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

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