Talking with Tatchell – Archive

Monarchy v Democracy – time for an elected Head of State?

14 June 2007

Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay sets out the case for an elected head of state

Hitler may have lost the war, but a monarch of German descent sits on the throne of Britain. Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the German Royal House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

The real issue is, of course, not the non-British heritage of the British Royal Family, but the fact that we have an unelected and largely unaccountable monarch as our Head of State.

Monarchy is incompatible with democracy. It perpetuates elitism, snobbery, privilege and deference. It is steeped in misogyny, religious intolerance and, by default, racism.

Male heirs are favoured over female ones; people of faiths other than the Church of England are excluded; and a black or Asian person can never be our Head of State.

According to the elitist values of the monarchical system, the most stupid, immoral royal is more entitled to be Head of State than the wisest, most ethical commoner. Monarchs get the job for life, no matter how appallingly they behave. Imagine the embarrassment of having a king like the insensitive, gaffe-prone Prince Philip.

The alternative to royalty is not a US-style executive president. We could have an elected president, but a low-cost, purely ceremonial one, like the Irish. This would ensure that the people are sovereign, not the royals. And we get an important safeguard: if we don’t like our head of state, we can elect a new one.

Is it time for a democratic republic?

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