Why the Monarchy Must Stay
It keeps politicians from holding all the power
By Harold Brooks-Baker
. Winston Churchill often described parliamentary democracy(议会民主制) and constitutional
monarchy(立宪君主制) as being imperfect- but the best that man had yet devised(设计；发明).
. It is human nature to require a leader at the helm(指明方向). In our century we have looked to our
heads of state for this role. Apart from carrying out ceremonial duties, a head of state should foster
the notion of political accountability, while remaining above politics. That, of course, can't be true
in places where the head of state is an ex-politician—or in America, where the head of state is the
political leader. The British system of constitutional monarchy, like the more than half-dozen
monarchies still in existence in Europe, aptly shows why a monarch is a more successful
figurehead than a president.
. "In Great Britain things that are conventional become habitual, and things that are habitual become
constitutional," wrote American historian George Brinton Cooper 40 years ago. In Britain the
monarch remains very much at the heart of its Constitution. As constitutional monarch, Queen
Elizabeth ? holds powers that may surprise many. She can choose a prime minister, dissolve
Parliament and declare war. In reality, she waives these powers and is bound by tradition to accept
the advice of Parliament. This system prevents politicians from too easily usurping power and, it
may be argued, has prevented a dictator from dominating Great Britain since Oliver Cromwell' s
short rule in the 17th century.
. It is one of the great strengths of monarchy that it has never taken sides in any political debate, that
it shows itself, as an institution, to be evenhanded. This apolitical stance has made it possible for
the political culture of Great Britain to assimilate, with relative ease, theories that would appear on
the face of things to be radically at odds with a system of monarchical government-- for example,
socialism. Monarchy in this century has worked with socialist governments as effectively as with
those whose politics one might choose to think were more sympathetic to the institution. . If one were to jettison the monarchy, government, Parliament, the nation and the commonwealth~
would be turned upside down. Every nut and bolt of every one of Britain's major institutions would
have to be altered to make way for change. Bear in mind that every organ from the post office to the armed services acts with authority from the monarch. The troops that are sent to Bosnia~ and the letters that arrive in one's letter box are all effectively Her Majesty's. This is a system that has shown itself to work--and it's generally agreed that if something works, it should be retained. Any replacement would be ruinously costly, both in financial terms and also in terms of the loss of a unifying national symbol and a vital historical link. Only a monarchy can provide such continuity, remaining constant in a country’s ever-changing national vision.
. British monarchy has served both the empire~ and the commonwealth with great distinction. It is easy to forget in Great Britain that Queen Elizabeth is head of state not only of one small island nation, but also of the 53 nations of the commonwealth, with a combined population of 1.5 billion. In short, she is head of state to more than one quarter of the earth's inhabitants. As such, she flies the world nurturing a sense of unity between nations. From this follows trade, and a vital economic boost to the nation's industry and commerce. At home, monarchy is at the center of a multimillion-dollar tourist industry. (And Elizabeth II donates more than $ 90 million a year to the treasury.) Monarchy adds dignity and historical relevance to all state occasions, and there can be no doubt that it is still more impressive to be met by a monarch than by a president.
. And yet monarchy is threatened because the idea of republicanism seems more democratic and less overtly hierarchical. After the "annus horribilis, ""Camillagate, ""Squidgygate'' and other royal antics, support for the monarchy in Great Britain dropped to 38 percent. Yet these poll results stem largely from a confusion in the public mind between the words "monarchy" and "royal family.''~ In a monarchy there is only one person of importance: the reigning monarch. The public actions and statements of other members of the royal family—however laudable or distressing they may
be--have no effect on the monarch's power or status. Nor should any individual’s character or conduct be confused with those of an institution of much longer standing. Monarchy's legitimacy flows from its history and traditions and from the fact that it cannot be overwhelmed by any short-lived cult of personality. It commands too much respect.
. Despite recent bursts of anti-monarchical feeling, however, it is still hard to discover a strong movement toward a republic in this country. There is still no focus for this opposition, nor has any popular political party taken up the call for the monarch's removal. Even The Independent, one of Britain's most respected broadsheet newspapers, in its call for a wider debate on this issue still advocated the retention of Queen Elizabeth as head of state until her death. Taken together, what does all this show? That people like things the way they are. With THE HON. CAMILLA CAMERON (From Newsweek, March 11, 1996)