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Face off: is the Queen still relevant in 21st century Britain?

Posted at 5:15 pm, June 5, 2012 in News
Buckingham Palace

As the nation celebrates the Diamond Jubilee this weekend, we ask: Is the Queen still relevant in twenty-first century Britain?…

Yes- Thomas Harrison, Royalist Party chairman

‘Our Queen has not just given 60 years of dedication to the UK and the Commonwealth, but also to the rest of the world. Just look back to apartheid-era South Africa: while Margaret Thatcher was refusing to impose sanctions on the South African government, the Queen was strongly encouraging her to do so to stop people’s suffering. Her Majesty sees the everyday suffering of the impoverished people around the world. ‘Our politicians, by contrast, have ceased to stand for anything over the last 60 years. They’ve demoralised the public. The Queen has not only given over her life to service, but has kept her reputation intact. A lot of politicians don’t even manage to do that over a five- or ten-year career. ‘Her visit to Ireland last year cemented relations between our nations, despite our troubled history. A visit by David Cameron wouldn’t have had the same effect. If Parliament worked more closely with her, perhaps we’d have a more stable government. Would MPs have scammed so much money out of the taxpayer with expenses claims if she was acting on our behalf to watch what they were doing?  ‘The ultimate test of whether the Queen is still relevant is people’s reactions to her. Take all the celebrations this year: they’re not just taking place in the UK or the Commonwealth. They’re taking place across the whole world. The way that people rejoice over this little old lady shows how relevant she is and always will be.’

The Royalist Party is dedicated to preserving the monarchy as a political institution: see royalistparty.co.uk for more details.

No- Peter Tatchell, Civil Rights campaigner

‘The Queen is a rather sweet old granny, whose 60 years on the throne have been mostly harmless and inoffensive. The problem is not Elizabeth II, it’s the institution of monarchy. It’s a constitutional anachronism; a relic of a bygone feudal age. ‘An unelected head of state, even a fairly nice one like the Queen, is incompatible with democracy and modernity. Monarchy is based on inherited power, wealth and status, with the most stupid, immoral royal more fit to be head of state than the wisest, most ethical commoner. The Queen may be okay, but imagine having to put up with a king like Nazi-sympathiser Edward VIII. ‘Sadly, our monarchy is also based on religious intolerance. No Catholic or person married to a Catholic can inherit the throne. The monarch is automatically supreme governor of the Church of England; so succession is problematic for atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs. Worse still, the monarchy is racist by default. Until a future royal first-in-line marries a non-white person, Afro-Caribbean, African and Asian people are excluded from being the nation’s symbolic leader. ‘Royalists claim the monarchy is nevertheless preferable to an executive US-style president. However, together with most republicans, I favour a low-cost, ceremonial, elected president, as in Ireland. ‘This would ensure that the people are sovereign, not the royals. It would give us a crucial safeguard: if we don’t like our head of state, we can elect a new one. The Queen could stand for election. If she won, I’d accept the result. Let the people decide.’

For more info about Peter Tatchell’s campaigns, see petertatchell.net and republic.org.uk.

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