What little history I was taught in school during the sixties told me that I lived under a ‘constitutional monarchy’. I was told that the exercise of the Divine Right of Kings – an absolute monarch – ended when Cromwell and his supporters beheaded King Charles I of England in 1649.
Ever since the monarchy was restored in 1660 the British people have lived under a ‘constitutional’ monarchy where the monarch performs a ceremonial role and is subject to an elected parliament. Monarchs have no longer any say in how the country is governed. That is for the elected government and parliament to decide and they are answerable to the people, not the monarch. The United Kingdom is a democracy.
All this my teachers told me.
Like most of the history I was taught it was propaganda with no basis in fact.
What my teachers didn’t tell me was that when the monarchy was restored in 1660 no major changes were made to the powers of the monarch. The only restraint on Charles’s II was the knowledge that any obvious abuse of power could lead to the loss of his head, like his father. So the British monarchy learnt to be more subtle in the power they exercised. It all became hidden behind a cloud of secrecy and the illusion of a reformed or ‘constitutional ‘ monarchy.
The people have been deceived, as always. If anything the monarchy has consolidated its power and wealth since the Restoration, but the lie was perpetuated through the centuries by both left and right in British politics that we had a ‘constitutional’ monarchy – even though we have no constitution.
A form of national government in which the power of the monarch (the king or queen) is restrained by a parliament, by law, or by custom. (my emphasis)
Have you ever known parliament to restrain Queen Elizabeth?
Even the briefest examination of the role of the British monarchy will reveal that in reality it is the monarch who does the ‘restraining’, not parliament.
Does the pomp of the State opening of the UK parliament with massed rows of genuflecting legislators and judges look like a monarch being ‘restrained’?
State opening of parliament. Unchanged for generations
Ask yourself why is it that the role of the monarch is never questioned or scrutinised in this allegedly ‘open and democratic’ society?
Both left and right accept the status quo. The left may moan about the monarchy, but very few campaign openly for a republic. Is this just endearing respect for a little old lady?
Because many of them have already taken an oath of loyalty and secrecy.
We have an all pervasive corporate media supposedly shining a light into all areas of modern society, but you will see no substantial criticism of the British monarchy and no public debate. This is true of not just the British media, but the worldwide media too, indicating the global reach of today’s ‘British’ royalty.
Instead we have the most extreme forms of sycophancy and unquestioning toadying in the UK and throughout the world when it comes to the ‘British’ royals. For example twenty-three million Americans watched the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.
During the state opening of parliament (note: the elected parliament cannot function unless the monarch officially gives it permission to sit i.e. ‘opens’ it), Queen Elizabeth sits with her husband (Philip, Prince of Denmark and Greece from the House of Schleswig-Holstein Sonderberg Glucksberg), surrounded by gold and diamonds. ‘Her Majesty’ refers to ‘my government’ and speaks in quasi medieval language, lecturing the people about living ‘within their means‘, while the only criticism is made of her role is in social media. Mainstream media and the elected elite remain respectfully buttoned up in regard to ‘her gracious majesty’. There’s a good reason for this extreme discretion: most of them have taken an oath of loyalty to the monarch and many an oath of secrecy.
Remember the British government is ‘Her Majesty’s Government ‘. Government ministers are ‘ministers of the Crown’.
The law of treason is still on the statute books
A 170-year-old law that threatens anyone calling for the abolition of the monarchy with life imprisonment is still in force. Section 3 of the Treason Felony Act 1848 has never been repealed.
‘If any person whatsoever shall, within the United Kingdom or without, compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend to deprive or depose our Most Gracious Lady the Queen, from the style, honour, or royal name of the imperial crown of the United Kingdom, or of any other of her Majesty’s dominions and countries, or to levy war against her Majesty,………….every person so offending shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable … to be transported beyond the seas for the term of his or her natural life.’
Why would such a law still be on the statute books?
It’s all hidden in plain sight
Queen Elizabeth II is as untouchable as any of her forebears – leaving aside Charles I. Her very large extended family live in the same gilded opulence as they have done for centuries. In spite of the obvious and growing poverty of many British people and the fact that her family’s wealth could house the homeless and cure British poverty, Queen Elizabeth feels no need to make concessions to her people.
Why would a constitutional monarch be specifically placed beyond the law of the land?
Neither the Queen or Prince Charles can be brought before a court. There is no one in the UK who has the authority to arrest the monarch or their heirs.
Oaths of Loyalty and Secrecy
All members of parliament, police officers, judges and lawyers must swear an oath of loyalty, not to the people they allegedly serve, but to the monarch.
‘I…. swear by Almighty God that I will faithfully and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to Law. So help me God.’
The monarch makes no corresponding oath of loyalty her subjects. It is a one-way process. You would think under a constitutional monarchy the monarch would have to make some sort of binding declaration to faithfully serve her people and parliament, but take a look at the Coronation Oath. It talks about the monarch ‘governing‘. Strange. I thought she was a ‘constitutional monarch who didn’t govern. There is no mention of her serving her people.
How can all this be the case if we have a ‘constitutional’ monarchy, subject to the will and law of parliament?
Take a look at the British Privy Council, set up by Henry VIII, restored to full powers under Charles II and maintained to this day.
Here are some extracts from the oath members must take:
- ‘You do swear by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto the Queen’s Majesty’
- ‘and will keep secret all Matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council’
- ‘You will to your uttermost bear Faith and Allegiance unto the Queen’s Majesty; and will assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities, granted to Her Majesty, and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament’
Currently there as many Privy Councillors sworn to such secrecy and allegiance to the monarch as there are elected members of parliament i.e. 600. Many Privy Councillors are in fact also serving members of parliament who are supposed to serve their constituents. All members of the British cabinet are Privy Councillors.
The Privy Council – we are told – is merely an advisory body to the monarch.
Why would a ‘constitutional’ monarch need so many ‘advisors’ and why would their advice have to be secret?
How can MPs serve their constituents and government ministers serve the nation when they have already taken an oath of loyalty and secrecy to the monarch?
But then, such conflicts of interest don’t arise under an absolute monarchy. Everyone is subservient to the monarch.
The Privy Council is in effect a clear challenge to any illusion of democracy. Yet no one demands its removal or even discusses its function.
Monarch sits in British Cabinet
The monarch appoints the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to a permanent seat in the British Cabinet. The Duchy of Lancaster, along with the Duchy of Cornwall, are the global arms of the British Crown. Both duchies are the personal property of the monarch. They enjoy tax free status and their accounts are kept away from public scrutiny.
No explanation is given as to what the cabinet function is of this Chancellor. All requests for information are denied.
It is true the Queen was persuaded to pay income tax in 1992, but that applies to the Royal Household only. It is important to distinguish between the Royal Household and the other tentacles of the royal empire. The Duchies of Lancaster & Cornwall – the business end of the regal empire – are entirely exempt from tax or public scrutiny of any kind. These are the companies that invest in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands.
Why would the royal family seek this privilege and not pay tax like the rest of us, especially given their enormous wealth and their privileged position?
You could try submitting a Freedom of Information request to find out about the regal finances, but you would discover that the Royals are exempt from FOIs. More secrecy. What have they got to hide if they are purely ‘constitutional ‘? Surely ‘constitutional ‘ implies open and transparent?
Beyond their secret finances this ‘constitutional’ monarch requires the attendance of the elected Prime Minister every Tuesday. If they can’t meet they chat on the phone.
Surely a ceremonial office doesn’t need to be kept so closely informed of the day to business of government? What do they discuss?
Again that’s a secret. The monarch can ask about anything. There’s no such thing as confidentiality or state secrets when it comes to the monarch. They must be told. So in this way our democratic pretensions are shattered: our Prime Minister holds weekly meetings in secret with an unaccountable, all-powerful monarch.
Given these secret weekly meetings it’s hardly surprising that a law like Section 3 of the Treason Felony Act (see above) was not repealed making it still possible in the 21st century to imprison someone for proposing to dethrone the monarch. These meetings are an ideal forum for the monarch to secretly influence legislation.
In addition all legislation must be approved by the monarch. Again we’re led to believe that this is just a rubber stamp, a formality. She has never refused ‘permission’, we are told.
But she doesn’t need to refuse in the full glare of public scrutiny if she meets the Prime Minister weekly for secret discussions. This can all be dealt with before any legislation reaches the final stages and, because the discussions are secret, we have no way of knowing how or if the monarch has intervened.
In addition the British monarch can dismiss the elected government, suspend parliament and no elected government can take office until the monarch gives ‘assent’. The monarch can also command the armed forces, declare states of emergency and pardon criminals.
Again monarchists will argue that these powers have rarely if ever been exercised in modern times. But given the protocol of secrecy how do we know what has gone on behind the gilded doors?
The question remains : Why have all these powers if they are never exercised?
Monarchists argue that all this is just a bit of archane ritual left over from a bygone era. It’s all meaningless, they argue.
But why would a state keep so many laws and practices in place if they were agreed to be meaningless? No country keeps laws that it has no intention of ever enforcing.
The key point is of course is that they are still full of meaning and real power under an absolute monarchy.
In 1975 the British monarch exercised these powers in the full glare of publicity and dismissed the elected Australian government and parliament when the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, wanted to nationalise Australia’s mineral rights – part owned by guess who?
The Crown is always superior
If you need more convincing look at the symbols of the British state.
If you are a British subject, look no further than your passport. What does it say?
Her Britannic Majesty‘s Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary. (My emphasis)
Note it does not say ‘in the name of the elected British government’.
So when you travel you travel as a subject of the monarch, not as a British citizen.
Look closer. Look at the logo on the front. The crown is superior to everything else. This is the logo of the British Government.
Interestingly in other so-called ‘constitutional’ monarchies such as Nederlands, Belgium, Norway, Spain and Sweden the language and – most significantly – the image of the dominant crown is the same on every passport.
This is a global brand – a global financial power structure no different from Microsoft or Shell – except the Crown is much bigger and more powerful.
There is another logo in the UK where the ubiquitous crown is the dominant image. Guess what that is?
Should we draw any conclusions from the fact that the logo of the UK parliament is made up of bars and chains surmounted by a crown?
The British Crown has remained the largest landowner not just in the United Kingdom – with 60 million acres and property valued at over £8 billion, but in the world owning one-sixth of all the earth’s land valued at £17.6 trillion. The Crown owns half of the British coastline. The list includes some of the country’s best-known buildings: iconic race courses, grand hotels, historic castles, and an offshore energy portfolio worth over £1 billion. In addition they have one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, containing over 7,000 paintings, 40,000 watercolours and drawings, about 150,000 old master prints, historical photographs, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, books, gold and silver plate, arms and armour, jewellery and other works of art. The collection includes the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. The Koh-I-Nor diamond ‘acquired’ from India and the African Star ‘acquired’ from Africa are valued at around £1 billion and £300 million respectively.
Why would a ‘constitutional’ monarch need or desire to hold on to such wealth?
Why would a parliament elected by universal suffrage allow the monarch to retain such obscene wealth when the people are in such need?
The British monarch’s wealth portfolio is not confined to the shores of the UK. The British Crown owns 89% of Canada for example. As a result in Canada most people are not landowners, they are ‘landholders’. In Australia, the 7th largest country on earth the British Crown holds 1,900 million acres, Papua New Guinea 114 million acres, New Zealand 66 million acres.
Since the 2007 global financial crisis, the Crown Estate’s property value has more than doubled to 11 billion pounds, increasing at an annualised rate of 9.3 percent at a time when the rest of the British house market, even in London, slowed.
Royal apologists argue that most of these assets do not belong to the monarch personally, but are are held in trust for future generations. That’s true. However, in a great many cases such as the Crown Jewels and numerous properties, the monarch has sole custody of them and decides who will inherit them on her death. That’s as close to personal ownership as you need. In any event, we ask again,
Why would a ‘constitutional’ monarchy want to hold onto such wealth, whether personal or corporate?
We are required to believe that such enormous global wealth bestows no power on the ‘British’ Monarchy. They remain ‘restrained’ by the perpetually cash-strapped British parliament.
Apart from any other ethical considerations regarding such a concentration of extreme wealth in the hands of a secretive and unaccountable family, we have no way of knowing how much the monarch profits personally from the ‘Crown’s’ £17.6 trillion asset portfolio. Only recently we discovered by chance that the Queen has £10 million hidden away in the Cayman Islands.
The estimates of the British Crown’s wealth that appear in the public domain are always grossly understated at around £500 million. However when the Queen’s worldwide property holdings are factored in experts calculate that her true wealth rises to around £25 trillion.
In spite of this enormous wealth, the British monarchy is personally paid a Sovereign Grant per annum from taxpayer funds. Currently this will be £82.2 million in 2018/19, a rise of 8%. This Sovereign Grant has trebled in the last six years.
However this is not the true annual cost of the monarchy to the public purse. When the cost of security and the many local receptions for royalty around the UK the figure rises to £345 million.
Friends of the Royal Family
We could go on to list the British Crown’s unsavoury association with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
Or in more recent times the Crown’s very close association with the notorious paedophile, Jimmy Saville. Saville – a disc jockey – even mediated between Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their marital disputes.
It is said you know people by the friends they keep.
It seems power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
However what should concern us most is that the ‘British’ Monarchy is manifestly not a ‘constitutional’ monarchy, it is, and always has been, an absolute monarchy with a subservient government and parliament, which works to distract attention from the true power.
Therefore we do not live in a democracy. The United Kingdom ( the clue is the name) is effectively much closer to a feudal society than a democracy. In spite of numerous reforms, the essential structure of government in the U.K. has not changed for hundreds of years. A brief look at the archaic proceedings in the Palace of Westminster should convince any casual observer.
Democracy is a deliberately created illusion which the political elite, both left and right, and the corporate media actively conspire to promote. The history of universal suffrage over the last 100 years is an illusion. In the UK we have been electing a mirage.
Until this truth is widely accepted any concerns and protests about the various abuses of power and incompetence of the political class are totally misdirected. That’s why they always lead nowhere and change so little. Protests need to be directed at the gates of Buckingham Palace.