Friday, November 14, 2008

Prince Charles, Birthday and succession

It's been a long time since i've updated this blog. Apologies for any return visitors. A lot has been going on over the last 12 months!

Today is Prince Charles 60th Birthday.

British media is full of discussion about whether he should or should not take the crown upon the death of The Queen.

People misunderstand the constitutional position, Charles WILL be king providing he does not die first or abdicate. William is NOT next in line and has no business taking the crown in lieu of his father.

But I think the biggest issue in this is simple: The UK does not have an elected head of state, there is no say in this matter for the public. This is not democratic, this is not the way a 21st Century nation should conduct itself.

As a republican, I appreciate the history of our Royal family but believe firmly that they are very much a relic of the past. The time has come for an elected head of state with powers similar to those of the US President. We need a figurehead we can believe in, someone who is selected by the people, not birth.

The only arguments I've heard to retain the Monarchy are:

They attract tourists

Is that really a good reason to have an unelected head of state? Someone offered immense privilege by birth, not merit?

I believe the tourists would still come and would have greater access to our historical buildings and sites.

Who would be head of state instead?

Surely this is an issue for the electorate? If this was open to anyone then this country has some of the greatest minds in the world. Could be someone from any walk of life.

Of course, if we were to abolish the Monarchy, this would be one of the greatest constitutional changes in our history, perhaps it would be time to create a written constitution giving us rights that have been rode roughshod over in the last decade or so.

Ultimately though, this won't happen any time soon. The political will just isn't there. I dare say that when the Queen is gone and we're looking at Charles as King, questions will start to be asked. Lets hope so.

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