Wednesday 9 September 2015

Dr Drew Gray

At heart I’m a romantic monarchist, but in my head I’m a staunch republican who sees no need for such an outdated institution.

As a historian it is impossible to look back at the reigns of England’s kings and queens and not be moved by the fact that we still have a head of state who can trace their ancestry so far back in time. The longevity of the Royal family is pretty impressive given the fate of most of Europe’s monarchies. Furthermore, whilst Britain’s heritage is not entirely bound up with our royals, I can see the physical evidence of them all around us in our collective heritage.

However, this is 2015 and can it really make sense to have a head of the country who owes their position merely to an accident of birth? In the early medieval period rulers emerged from amongst the strongest or most powerful men in the land – not a meritocracy by any means but not simple primogeniture either.

The Queen has reigned for longer than her namesake and Victoria, and is much more ‘constitutional’ than either of them. The British monarch is increasingly a figurehead rather than a ruler but this Queen has, by dint of her longevity, gained considerable experience of politics and politicians. I can see the value in this, but by the same token I see little merit in allowing her son to succeed her. Prince Charles has none of the experience of his mother and surely we have reached the point where we can thank the Windsors for their service and let them fade into history. It will be fitting to cut the reign at Charles, but maybe not as dramatically as we did in 1649!

God bless the Queen, long live the republic!

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