Now that they’ve wheeled out Her Very Bezzaness in the Golden Carriage to pretend she has written a speech again, I think I’ll take the opportunity to wheel out these again…
Further to my post of yesterday, I’ve decided to make it a little poll. Please give your votes. You can vote from a future Independent Scotland perspective or a current UK one…
I was very happy to see that the majority of Scots want a referendum on keeping the monarchy after an independence vote.
I was also happy to see the continuation of the general trend that things that seem to worry the Daily Express make me quite happy. I’ll let go the slightly weighted headline of the story for the moment in favour of saying simply that for some inexplicable reason I was particularly amused by this line…
“…our poll shows that repeated demands for an independent Scotland to become a republic have obviously shaken confidence in the Windsors north of the Border“.
It gave me a visual image of people walking around visibly distressed because they were no longer confident that the monarchy were fulfilling their role.
And that will be the point of this little series – to take a look at what the hell their role is supposed to be, and can it be justified in the modern age?
I’ll try to do it point by point and I’ll start with an easy one that we’ve all heard and it is…
“They bring in tourists”
We can start therefore, by looking at the top 20 list of most visited countries in the world…
I won’t bore you with the details but that equates to a 15/5 or 14/6 split in favour of NOT having a monarchy, depending where you put Canada. None out of the top 3 and only one out of the top 6 have a monarch – and he is an arsehole.
That however, is just a very simplistic point and doesn’t take in reasons, so I’d just like to take a couple of examples from around the world.
Various monarchists have suggested that the monarchy brings £500 million in tourist money to the UK every year (not a lot of that would ever reach Scotland and that’s another important point, but not for today). Are they really suggesting that France, the USA and China would be doing £500 million more if they still had a monarchy to push up the figures?
Of course they aren’t, that would be absurd. Would you decide not to go to the Great Wall of China because the dynasty that built it is over? Would you decide not to go to the Taj Mahal because the Mughal Empire is over?
No, they are silly arguments, but arguments that nonetheless help to illuminate the sleight of hand being employed here.
When this figure of £500 million is worked out, it is calculated using funds generated by all the buildings currently owned by the crown, and this shows a major flaw in the logic – would people stop going to Buckingham Palace if there was no monarchy? What if it became a museum? The Louvre is the most popular museum in the world these days. Did you know it used to be the property of the French Monarchy? Did everyone stop going when it became public?
The “brings in tourism” argument is flaky at best and in itself tourism is no reason for the continuation of an anachronistic system that tries to hide the fact that it’s unelected heads are still meddling in its governance.
There’s been so much fawning over the royals recently that I thought it was time to have a little word about one of them, the son of this one to be precise, and talk about the kind of influence they can have.
He’s much more famous for his comments about architecture, or smearing blood on the foreheads of his children after going hunting, but there is a lot of worrying stuff surrounding the Prince of Wales and alternative medicine.
I’ll let the Guardian continue the story (bold is mine)…
Homeopathy, which involves the use of remedies so heavily diluted with water that they no longer contain any active substance, is “rubbish”, said chief medical officer Sally Davies in January to the House of Commons science and technology committee. She added that she was “perpetually surprised” that homeopathy was available in some places on the NHS.
But the government’s NHS Choices website, which is intended to offer evidence-based information and advice to the public on treatments, does not reflect her view. A draft page that spelled out the scientific implausibility of homeopathic remedies was neutered by Department of Health officials. It is now uncritical, with just links to reports on the lack of evidence.
Part of the original draft which was later altered after pressure from lobbying groups said this…
Mattin’s original draft said: “There is no good quality clinical evidence to show that homeopathy is more successful than placebo in the treatment of any condition … Furthermore, if the principles of homeopathy were true it would violate all the existing theories of science that we make use of today; not just our theory of medicine, but also chemistry, biology and physics.”
The Guardian of course points out that there is no proof that Chuck was in any way involved in the lobbying done for the homeopathy industry.
He did however have a “complementary health charity” at one point. Did you see what happened to it?
The Prince of Wales’s complementary health charity ceased operating today following the exposure this week of an alleged fraud and money-laundering scandal at the organisation.
The trustees of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, of which Prince Charles is president, said last night they had brought forward a planned decision to wind up the charity as a result of a continuing police investigation by Scotland Yard.
There is something a little strange here though, even if it comes from two different incidents. Guardian story 13th Feb 2013 “There is no evidence that Prince Charles was involved personally in the lobbying.” Guardian story 30th Apr 2010 “Prince Charles personally lobbied health ministers to embrace complementary medicine across the NHS and is known to have pressed his case with the Labour government’s first health secretary, Frank Dobson, and its most recent, Andy Burnham.”
I don’t know if he has personally lobbied for one thing or another or not. The Guardian at one point says he did, and at another says there is “no evidence” that he did (which isn’t the same thing as saying that he didn’t). There have certainly been other accusations.
But what I want to say with this is that he clearly is a man who has influence and going round using that influence to back the idea that washing your arse with coffee and drinking fruit juice is a reasonable method of curing cancer is perhaps not a responsible use of that influence.
It’s all just worth bearing in mind the next time you hear a royal correspondent giving them such wonderful publicity or see the Prime Minister giving them a pay rise.
This one is supposed to be the next King.
I loved the way this STV report makes the priorities of the Scottish Kirk look so distorted…
The successor to the Queen should have a separate Scottish coronation if the country votes for independence, the Church of Scotland has recommended.
Kirk councils also called for the Scottish Government to publish a draft of its written constitution before the vote next September.
Ok, did you get that? First, ridiculous pageantry, second, piffling little matters like constitutions.
I don’t know if it is the kirk’s report that has its crown up its throne or if it was the STV reporter that prioritised the things in that order, but either way, it seems a funny way to come at the debate.
Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’ve now guessed, the Union that we don’t want to remain part of continues along its merry way to transporting us back a few centuries.
Of course now it is those beloved ‘wealth creators’ more than aristocrats to whom we must all be subservient. I wonder when we’ll have to start doffing our caps to “Captains Of Industry” and the like. Can’t be long now.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Duncan-Smith and Osborne should just cut out the wishy-washy stuff and launch on a new platform of Feudalism For A Modern Britain.
However they clearly don’t want something too modern, some of those old aristocrats are still hanging on dearly to the levers…
Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals’ little-known power to consent to or block new laws. They also reveal the power has been used to torpedo proposed legislation relating to decisions about the country going to war.
The internal Whitehall pamphlet was only released following a court order and shows ministers and civil servants are obliged to consult the Queen and Prince Charles in greater detail and over more areas of legislation than was previously understood.
In the magnificent Candide, Voltaire said something about Admirals in Britain…
In this country it is a good thing to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.
The Queen has formally presented the Duke of Edinburgh with the title and office of Lord High Admiral of the Navy to mark his 90th birthday.
The post – the titular head of the Royal Navy – dates back to the 14th Century.
Prince Philip gave up a promising career on the seas to devote his life to royal duty. He had already reached the rank of commander before stepping down from his active role in 1951 as the health of his father-in-law George VI deteriorated.
Some believe he could have been First Sea Lord – the professional head of the Royal Navy – and the Queen’s birthday gift could be seen as an acknowledgement of the sacrifices the Duke has made for his wife
As you can see, the article says that one of the reasons he gave the navy up was to devote his life to his royal duties.
Let’s see, in the light of the meritocratic, inclusive and free society that this appointment speaks loud of, how well he has occasionally done on some of those duties. This is by no means a full list. These are selected ones from here…
- To female sea cadet last year: “Do you work in a strip club?”
- To President of Nigeria, who was in national dress, 2003: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”
- To a British trekker in Papua New Guinea, 1998: “You managed not to get eaten then?”
- Peering at a fuse box in a Scottish factory, he said: “It looks as though it was put in by an Indian.” He later backtracked: “I meant to say cowboys.”
- To Lockerbie residents after plane bombing, 1993: “People say after a fire it’s water damage that’s the worst. We’re still drying out Windsor Castle.”
- To a woman solicitor, 1987: “I thought it was against the law for a woman to solicit.”
- To the Aircraft Research Association in 2002: “If you travel as much as we do, you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort – provided you don’t travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.”
- To then Paraguay dictator General Stroessner: “It’s a pleasure to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people.”
- To Susan Edwards and her guide dog in 2002: “They have eating dogs for the anorexic now.”
- To black politician Lord Taylor of Warwick, 1999: “And what exotic part of the world do you come from?”
- “People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have even been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans.” 2000.
- On being made Chancellor of Edinburgh University in 1953: “Only a Scotsman can really survive a Scottish education.”
- To a British student in China, 1986: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll go home with slitty eyes”