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Something in the British psyche demands the magic of monarchy

We’ll even borrow one from abroad rather than become republican

By on Thursday, 7 June 2012

Revellers on the Mall in London watch the Queen appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony (PA photo)

Revellers on the Mall in London watch the Queen appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony (PA photo)

In the Guardian last week, republican Polly Toynbee wrote a waspish demolition of the monarchy: “What’s to celebrate?” she asked acidly. Some wag later described this contribution to the nation’s festivities as being “like Richard Dawkins at Christmas”. Quite so; it’s not exactly the season for republican sentiments.

Commenting on Her Majesty’s 60 years of service to the British people, many commentators made the observation that, but for a quirk of history – the abdication of Edward VIII without an heir and the accession of his brother, the Duke of York – Princess Elizabeth of York would never have become Queen. It led me to muse on earlier quirks of royal history that have played their part in her destiny: the unanticipated accession of Queen Victoria as the only legitimate successor to William IV; then the accession of George V in place of his older brother, the Duke of Clarence, who had died of typhoid in his 20s; then, of course, George VI, who replaced his brother and who was followed by his daughter.

I also noticed in the Telegraph last week that the Royal Stuart Society happened to hold its annual Restoration Dinner on May 29 – days before the triumphant House of Windsor Jubilee weekend. What was this all about? Surely the diners were not scheming to restore the Stuart dynasty after all these centuries? It turns out that they weren’t. Apparently the Royal Stuart Society took over from various Jacobite factions in 1926, with the aim “to uphold rightful monarchy and oppose republicanism”. Members don’t raise their glasses to “the little gentleman in black velvet” which was the ancient Jacobite toast; they just write learned papers on Stuart history and mark the birthday of James II, deposed in favour of William and Mary, whose statue is outside the National Gallery. I’ll have to check it out. James was our last Catholic king; if he had not been deposed subsequent royal dynasties would have been Catholic rather than Protestant.

Doing a quick genealogical survey, I note that the House of Stuart takes its descent from Henrietta-Anne, daughter of Charles I; it then passed through the Houses of Savoy and of Modena-Este and came to rest in the House of Wittelsbach (Bavaria). The current head of the House of Stuart is a German called Duke Franz.

The website of the Society makes it clear Duke Franz is not claiming the British throne. It would be a forlorn pursuit anyway, for by the Act of Settlement (1701) the Stuart (Catholic) line was deliberately excluded from the line of succession. This succession was settled on the Protestant heirs of the Electress Sophie of Hanover, a granddaughter of James I and niece of Charles I. That’s how we got George I of Hanover as King of England, a German who allegedly couldn’t speak a word of English. Reading about all this made me think there must be something very tenacious in the British psyche that consistently demands the magic of monarchy; we would rather beg or borrow monarchs from elsewhere than go down the republican route; poor Ms Toynbee.

She considers our outburst of royalist sentiment as a matter of hollow pomp and unearned privilege. She is not a romantic, as most of us (over the Jubilee weekend, anyway) appear to be. It must be a lonely struggle being a republican. I think the Royal Stuart Society should invite her to be their guest speaker at their Restoration Dinner next year. Who knows? She might fall for the romance of royalty and decide that past volumes of the Almanach de Gotha, the directory for all the European grand dynasties, is her bedtime reading.

  • nytor

    “It would be a forlorn pursuit anyway, for by the Act of Settlement (1701) the Stuart (Catholic) line was deliberately excluded from the line of succession.”

    I do not accept that parliament, which is in any case convened by the authority of the Crown, has the authority to alter the succession to the throne. I do not dispute that Elizabeth has put in years of stalwart service, but she is queen by Act of Parliament only and not by right.

    God save King Francis II.

  • Anon

    perhaps if the general public was aware of the link between the Royal Obstetrician who assisted David Steel in drafting the 1967 abortion legislation and the 200,000 plus British babies lost each year, they would temper their celebrations somewhat.

  • Lanfranc

    And therefore the monarchy suffers from taint by association? Oh, really. Talk about tenuous.

  • davidaslindsay

    We ought to keep Oak Apple Day every year, wearing our oak apples with pride.

    roots of the American Republic, of the campaign against the slave
    trade, of Radical and Tory action against social evils, of the extension
    of the franchise, of the creation of the Labour Movement, and of
    opposition to the Boer and First World Wars, are in Catholic, High
    Church (and thus first Methodist and then also Anglo-Catholic, as well
    as Scottish Episcopalian), Congregationalist, Baptist, Quaker and other
    disaffection with the Whig Revolution of 1688.

    Within those
    communities, long after any hope of a Stuart restoration had died, there
    remained a sense that the Hanoverian State, its Empire, and that
    Empire’s capitalist ideology were less than fully legitimate, a sense
    which had startlingly far-reaching consequences.

    Radical action
    for social justice and for peace derived from testing the State and its
    policies against theologically grounded criteria of legitimacy.

    It still does.

  • Gjhg

    This country stands for the values of freedom, democracy, equality and tolerance that, by broad political consensus, are said to be at the heart of a modern Britain. The monarchy stands for none of these.  (

  • davidaslindsay

    Liberty is the freedom to be virtuous,
    and to do anything not specifically proscribed. Equality is the means to
    liberty, and is never to be confused with mechanical uniformity; it includes
    the Welfare State, workers’ rights, consumer protection, local government, a
    strong Parliament, public ownership, and many other things. And fraternity is
    the means to equality, for example in the form of trade unions, co-operatives,
    credit unions, mutual guarantee societies and mutual building societies, among
    numerous that could be cited. Liberty, equality and fraternity are therefore
    inseparable from nationhood, a space in which to be unselfish. Thus from
    family, the nation in miniature, where unselfishness is first learned. And thus
    from property, each family’s safeguard both against over-mighty commercial
    interests and against an over-mighty State, therefore requiring to be as widely
    diffused as possible, and thus the guarantor of liberty as here defined. The
    family, private property and the State must be protected and promoted on the
    basis of their common origin and their interdependence, such that the
    diminution or withering away of any one or two of them can only be the
    diminution and withering away of all three of them. All three are embodied by


    Monarchy also embodies the principle
    of sheer good fortune, of Divine Providence conferring responsibilities upon
    the more fortunate towards the less fortunate. It therefore provides an
    excellent basis for social democracy, as has proved the case in the United
    Kingdom, in the Old Commonwealth, in Scandinavia and in the Benelux countries.
    Allegiance to a monarchy is allegiance to an institution embodied by a person,
    rather than to an ethnicity or an ideology, as the basis of the State. As
    Bernie Grant understood, allegiance to this particular monarchy, with its role
    in the Commonwealth, is a particular inoculation against racialism. No wonder
    that the National Party abolished it in South Africa, lowering the voting age
    to that end. No wonder that the Rhodesian regime followed suit, and removed the
    Union Flag from that of Rhodesia, something that not even the Boers’ revenge
    republic ever did. No wonder that the BNP wants to abolish the monarchy here.
    It is not only because, via the “Negroid” Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz,
    the Queen is descended from the part-black royal line of Portugal. It is not
    even only because, via the part-Moorish Elizabeth of York, the Queen is
    descended from Muhammad.

    Trade unionists and activists peremptorily dismissed an attempt to make
    the nascent Labour Party anti-monarchist. Theirs was a movement replete with
    MBEs, OBEs, CBEs, mayoral chains, aldermen’s gowns, and civic services; a
    movement which proudly provided a high proportion of Peers of the Realm,
    Knights of the Garter, members of the Order of Merit, and Companions of Honour,
    who had rejoiced in their middle periods to be Lords Privy Seal, or
    Comptrollers of Her Majesty’s Household, or so many other such things, in order
    to deliver the social democratic goods within the parliamentary process in all
    its ceremony. Attlee not only made no attempt to introduce life peerages, not
    only created 82 hereditary peers in only six years as Prime Minister, and not
    only accepted an earldom on his own retirement from the Commons. But during
    those six short years, he sanctioned eight promotions in the peerage. It is
    impossible to imagine a clearer expression of commitment to the principle.


    Attlee appointed Mountbatten as Viceroy of India, and Mountbatten was
    also Wilson’s first choice for the new position of Secretary of State for
    Defence, which he felt obliged to decline only because of his closeness to the
    Royal Family, no small part of why he had been asked in the first place. The
    Silver Jubilee was held under the Callaghan Government. The Queen had famously
    good relations with Wilson and Callaghan, in stark contrast to her famously bad
    relations with Thatcher, who called her “the sort of person who votes for the
    SDP” and who sought to usurp her position in public life, using Rupert
    Murdoch’s newspapers to vilify the Royal Family and giving statutory effect to
    Murdoch’s desired weakening of constitutional ties between Australia and the
    United Kingdom. Callaghan threatened to resign as Labour Leader rather than
    contest a General Election on Tony Benn’s policy of abolishing the House of
    Lords as that House was constituted in 1980.


    John Redwood may dine out on his opposition to the Major Government’s
    decision to scrap the Royal Yacht, but it was Peter Shore who denounced it at the time, and Shore also supported
    Canadian against Spanish fishermen not least because Canada and the United
    Kingdom shared a Head of State. Both on the Royal Yacht and on fisheries, even
    the Scottish National Party now agrees with him, while recent calls for a new
    Royal Yacht have been joined by a Labour MP, Kate Hoey. Labour MPs opposed
    Thatcher’s cutting of Canada’s last tie to the Parliament of the United
    Kingdom, so opposing for the sake of the Aboriginal peoples and of the
    French-Canadians, in both cases specifically as Her Majesty’s subjects. Both
    King George VI and the Queen Mother were honorary members of the Transport and
    General Workers’ Union, which the latter accepted from her great friend, Ron
    Todd, with specific reference to her late husband’s great admiration for Ernest
    Bevin. The Duke of Edinburgh also enjoys honorary trade union membership,
    courtesy of the lightermen and stevedores. Bernie Grant vociferously supported
    the monarchy because of its role in the Commonwealth.


    Only a movement of this kind, steeped in royal, parliamentary and
    municipal pageantry and charity, could preserve and celebrate the pageantry and
    charity of the City of London while ending its status as a tax haven and as a
    state within the State, Europe’s last great Medieval republican oligarchy,
    right where the United Kingdom ought to be. The liberties of the City were
    granted to a city properly so called, with a full social range of inhabitants
    and workers. The Crown should explicitly guarantee the hereditary economic and
    cultural rights of, for example, the Billingsgate fish porters, in the same way
    as it guaranteed or guarantees those of Aboriginal peoples elsewhere in the
    Empire and the Commonwealth. The British national interest is never to be
    confused with the interest of a separate state, Wall Street’s tax haven, which
    the Queen may not enter without special permission and where the writ of Parliament
    does not run, thereby denying its British inhabitants parliamentary as well as
    municipal democracy, since the legal rights and protections enacted by the
    House in which they have an elected Member do not extend to them.


    Whereas it was Margaret Thatcher who waged an the assault
    on the monarchy, since she scorned the Commonwealth, social cohesion,
    historical continuity and public Christianity, and called the Queen “the sort
    of person who votes for the SDP”, arrogating to herself the properly
    monarchical and royal role on the national and international stages, using her
    most popular supporting newspaper to vilify the Royal Family, and legislating
    to pre-empt the courts on both sides of the Atlantic by renouncing the British
    Parliament’s role in the amendment of the Canadian Constitution, as well as, on
    the instructions of Rupert Murdoch, to abolish the power of the Parliament of
    the United Kingdom to legislate for individual Australian states, to end the
    British Government’s consultative role in Australian state-level affairs, and
    to deprive the Queen’s Australian subjects of their right of appeal to Her
    Majesty in Council.

  • Cestius

    The Stuarts were got rid of because most of them had turned Catholic and when Queen Anne died the British establishment looked all over Europe for some royal, any royal that was Protestant, no matter how dodgy the claim to the throne.  Perhaps it is time to at least change the rules so that any future monarch or heir can become Roman Catholic if they want to without losing their claim to the throne.

  • nytor

    As for dodgy, there are few royal families in Europe with a WEAKER claim to the English throne than our present queen-by-parliamentary-diktat and her kin. I believe George I was 49th in line, at the time of his accession. The descendants of all 48 ahead of him (who include some of the most illustrious royal houses in Europe) all have better claims than the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.  

  • JByrne24

    Ms Phillips writes: “we would rather beg or borrow monarchs from elsewhere than go down the republican route”.

    “We” ?
    Who may “we” be? The people of England, Britain or the UK, or some others?

    The sentence of Ms Phillips’ above, clearly identifies her as one of the “others” and not as one of the people. I had hitherto been unaware of her status.
    In 1688 a handful of the new aristocratic families created by Henry 8th (some of them employing the word “hire” rather than beg or borrow) did indeed go elsewhere to acquire a royal family which suited their requirements.

    This unfortunately has always been the case in this country, except of course when invaded. Although only a troll myself (as Ms Phillips has described me) I think she should make clear that her “we” does not refer to the people of our country.

  • davidaslindsay

    The floundering David Cameron has put the Act of Settlement and male
    primogeniture back on the agenda. Which Realm or Territory is
    considering leave the family defined by our shared monarch unless these
    changes were given effect, though not otherwise? Even if any were, then
    it would still be wrong.

    There is a certain Spot The Deliberate
    Mistake quality to proposals to make the monarchy more egalitarian or,
    heaven help us all, “meritocratic”. The Act of Settlement reminds us
    that we are different, and it does us the courtesy of taking our beliefs
    seriously by identifying them as a real challenge. I question the
    viability of a Catholic community which devotes any great energy to the
    question of ascending the throne while the born sleep in cardboard boxes
    on the streets and the pre-born are ripped from their mothers’ wombs to
    be discarded as surgical waste. The rubbish passed as RE in this
    country’s Catholic schools would not be permitted, even now, in any
    other discipline. We need people in Parliament who will put down an
    amendment that all RE textbooks, resources and inspectors in
    State-funded Catholic schools must be approved directly by the Sacred
    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Most people probably assume
    that this is already the case. Would that it were. These should be our

    Far from being a term of abuse, the word “Papist” is
    in fact the name under which the English Martyrs gave their lives, and
    expresses the cause for which they did so, making it a badge of honour,
    to be worn with pride. The Protestant tradition is a fact of this
    country’s history and culture. No good purpose would be served by
    denying it its constitutional recognition. We must never countenance
    alliance with those who wish to remove Christianity as the basis of our
    State. Parties, such as the Lib Dems or the SNP, that wish to abolish
    Catholic schools need not imagine that noisily seeking to repeal the Act
    of Settlement somehow makes their position any better. On matters such
    as this, we should listen to the voice of Recusancy, currently in the
    Commons the voice of the gloriously anti-war Edward Leigh more than
    anyone. He has no time for this proposal, and rightly sees the whole
    thing as an excuse to bring the question of the monarchy to the floor of
    other Parliaments, particularly in Australia.

    Turning to male
    primogeniture, it sends an important signal: that the male line matters
    means that fathers matter, and that they have to face up to their
    responsibilities, with every assistance, including censure where
    necessary, from the wider society, including when it acts politically as
    the State. So, a legal presumption of equal parenting. Restoration of
    the tax allowance for fathers for so long as Child Benefit is being paid
    to mothers. Restoration of the requirement that providers of fertility
    treatment take account of the child’s need for a father. Repeal of the
    ludicrous provision for two women to be listed as a child’s parents on a
    birth certificate, although even that is excelled by the provision for
    two men to be so listed. Paternity leave to be made available at any
    time until the child was 18 or left school.

    That last, in
    particular, would reassert paternal authority, and thus require paternal
    responsibility, at key points in childhood and adolescence. That
    authority and responsibility require an economic basis such as only the
    State can ever guarantee, and such as only the State can very often
    deliver. And that basis is high-wage, high-skilled, high-status
    employment. All aspects of public policy must take account of this
    urgent social and cultural need. Not least, that includes energy policy:
    the energy sources to be preferred by the State are those providing the
    high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs that secure the economic
    basis of paternal authority in the family and in the wider community.
    So, nuclear power. And coal, not dole.

    But no more fathers’ wars,
    not least since those sent to war tend to come from working-class
    backgrounds, where starting to have children often still happens earlier
    than has lately become the norm. Think of those very young men whom we
    see going off or coming home, hugging and kissing their tiny children.
    Paternal authority cannot be affirmed while fathers are torn away from
    their children and harvested in wars. You can believe in fatherhood, or
    you can support wars under certainly most and possibly all
    circumstances, the latter especially in practice today even if not
    necessarily in the past or in principle. You cannot do both.

    to argue for this by word and by sheer presence is a role for living
    icons of God the Father, addressed as “Fathers in God”, and not for
    persons who, being addressed as “Mothers in God”, would be the icons of
    some or other mother-goddess. No one who does not accept in full the
    claims of Rome can submit to Her; no one who does can fail to do so. In
    its own terms, if a new network of Conservative Evangelical
    congregations would better serve the proclamation of the Gospel, then it
    must be created anyway. In neither case does any other consideration
    arise. Certainly, the prospect of either need not concern Parliament as a
    body. Parliament must do its duty and reassert the importance of
    fatherhood by rejecting any proposal for women bishops. No matter what.

    positive decision to retain declared “Fathers in God” within our
    parliamentary system and wider national life would emphasise the
    importance of fatherhood. As would a positive Declaratory Act
    reaffirming male primogeniture in the terms set out above. Alongside
    both of which, nothing would better serve to keep Catholicism salty in
    Britain, and reverse the losses of her savour in recent decades, than a
    categorical decision that the Act of Settlement was going to be retained
    because we are different, and because our beliefs are a serious
    challenge, so that we ought to be teaching them properly in our schools.

  • chiaramonti

    Since before the time of Henry VIII, Parliament (in various forms) has determined who should be King sometimes ‘assisted’ by brute force. Remember, Thomas More was perfectly prepared to accept the issue of Ann Boleyn as King (or Queen) “because Parliament tells me so.” He died because he would not accept Henry’s more expansive claims in relation to the Church. It is no good these days seeking to argue the claims of the Stuarts or anyone else. George I became King simply because he was the heir of Sophie, Electress of of Hanover, who would have become Queen in his stead had she lived a few months longer. She died before Queen Anne, whose heiress presumptive she was. So it is not a question of begging or borrowing Monarchs from elsewhere, simply complying with the decisions of Parliament. There is, however, a decent area for research into the so called “Glorious Revolution” when the mightiest in the land forgot their oaths of allegiance to James II and ushered in William and Mary. The traditional history of the period is hardly objective. Nevertheless, it would be quite impossible and undesirable to try and turn the clock back.

  • Gracchus

    Of course parliament has the right to alter the succession. Parliament is the people. Chosen from among the people, to speak for the people. And no one has the right to govern the people without the people’s consent.

  • Burt

    It was Rory Bremner that made that witty remark to Polly Toynbee “that she must have felt like Richard Dawkins at Christmas”. Priceless.
    In fact she is of course every bit as hard bitten an atheist as Dawkins is too.
    I believe there is indeed a similar aspect of her psyche that makes her the embittered atheist she is that also makes her the scathing anti-monarchist. Yes as Francis Phillips points out, there is a lack of romanticism. I also suggest both atheism and anti monachism are similar exhibitions due to a deep and dry ungenerosity of spirit. 
    As Catholics we should be able to be at ease with the concept of the monarchy. Despite the history of our country where the Monarch robbed the British from the True Faith. 
    We should remember that the concept of the monarchy speaks to us in some rather Catholic ways.
    For one it speaks of Family. In a sense having the Royal Family as a  family that belong to us as a people, can help the British to all feel we belong to a family.
    Also it is significant that Our Lord has ensured we think of him as King, not President, or merely Leader.
    Our Lady is  to us The Queen of Heaven. Those titles must mean that the concept of Kingship and Royalty must somehow matter to us as concepts that speaks to our souls much relevance and truth.

  • Jackie Parkes

    I can only accept a Catholic one and having Camilla in the ranks I mean..

  • Mcarroll

    It is all very well you saying this but, the problem with republicanism is that we will only end up with self promoting and money grabbing nobody who stands for nothing that is in the slightest bit worthy.

  • JByrne24

    This is by no means a problem only pertaining to Republics.

    Have you noticed that our politicians of all parties were quite recently found to be rather money-grabbing. As for self-promotion – well, need I say more?

    We have our own executive too (PM & Ministers etc) – need I say more again?

    No, the monarchy (The Crown) is viewed as an “indispensable” shelter, (and much loved) by almost all politicians, governments and oppositions, which is Above The Law, and behind which through secrecy, lies and misinformation our political class hide their catastrophic errors and incompetences. Our governments and oppositions are most reluctant to give up this shelter. The UK is probably the most secretive democracy in the world.   

    The only country to have seen a “need” in recent times to return to monarchy was ruled, until his death, by the only surviving one of the three major Fascist leaders after WW2:  Francisco Franco y Bahamonde (Franco).

  • Parasum

    The last King of the English was Harald II Godwinson. Ore possibly Richard IV, *de jure* king of England after the death of his father Richard III. Duke William the Bastard has no claim. We could go back to Brutus, great-grandson of Aeneas, c.1100 BC; or even further back, to Scyld Scefing, the son of Noah born in the Ark (see the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle); in about 2400 BC or earlier.

    Why not go back all the way to the primeval blob of protoplasm from which all living things are descended ? There’s probably an alien with a right to the Throne in some distant galaxy. A Ridley Scott alien with two sets of teeth is not my idea of a desirable monarch.

    There is no consistent principle for identifying a monarch – if Alexander II could give William the Bastard the right to invade England, then Benedict XVI ought to have a voice in the succession now. Assuming BXVI is the legitimate Pope.

    FWIW, Chesterton or Belloc pointed out that the US has a monarch – that the monarch is a republican who is subject to election or dismissal every few years, does not alter that. The Papacy is a monarchy, as are most (all ?) republics. Not all monarchy is royal. Even if the notion of Red China as a constitutional monarchy is a rather strange one.

  • Parasum

    “Monarchy also embodies the principle of sheer good fortune”

    ## To have a principle for anything founded on something that is either a null set, or else may contain anything at all (though what, is unknowable), sounds very odd. “Sheer good fortune” is meaning-free, because it can include anything or nothing – & one cannot have a principle, let alone a principle for social relations, that is meaning-free.

  • Lanfranc

    Yes: the entirely fanciful notion – beloved of a certain kind of polemicist - that there is a true and rightful monarch (who conveniently happens to tick all their preferred ideological boxes) who can be identified by careful reference to one particular dubious point in the succession while studiously ignoring all the other equally dodgy successions upon which their preferred candidate’s claim depends, is one which can hardly survive five minutes’ serious historical examination.

  • davidaslindsay

    If you had read on: “Monarchy also embodies the principle of sheer good fortune, of Divine Providence conferring responsibilities upon the more fortunate towards the less fortunate”

  • davidaslindsay

    Last year’s Royal Wedding, which took place amid a rising tide of
    “Englishness”, will in due season produce the first monarch in almost, if almost, exactly a thousand
    years who could be described as “ethnically English”. Whatever “English
    blood” may be, the present monarch has hardly any of it, and the next
    monarch has almost none.

    From 1066, there was a procession of
    monarchs as French as their consorts, followed by two Welshmen, three of
    second of whose children sat on the Throne at different times. Two of them never
    married, while the third was half-Spanish and married the King of Spain.
    Then came a dynasty of Scots with numerous foreign marriages, one of
    them to a Dutchman with whom she reigned jointly.

    After that, a
    series of Germans married to Germans, albeit in one case a German who
    had to claim to be Danish for political reasons, not in Britain, but in
    Denmark; her husband’s successor was married to an unambiguous, if
    London-born, German. (Another German ancestress was visibly part-black
    without any self-consciousness, while the first Welshman’s wife had
    Moorish antecedents such that the Royal Family is descended from

    Bringing us into the present Queen’s lifetime. The Queen Mother had
    plenty of English in her Scottishness, but then the Duke of York had never
    been expected to inherit. The Queen herself has a husband one of whose sisters
    was married to a Luftwaffe pilot while another was married to an SS
    officer on Himmler’s personal staff.

    But Prince William’s mother came from one of the
    greatest dynasties in English history; from the old Whig oligarchy that
    stitched up the succession for the present line but has only ever
    regarded it as an unfortunate political necessity, a clan of obvious
    parvenus and nouveau riche immigrants. “The People’s Princess”
    was the exact opposite of the truth: to herself and, not least, to her
    brother, Diana had married down.

    And now, the former Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. The
    next monarch but two will be three-quarters English. England will not
    have not seen the like since 1066.

  • nytor

    This is not a position I accept at all. The monarch is the monarch by birth. The succession cannot be altered. Parliament, inasmuch as it exists at all, exists because it is summoned by the authority of the Crown. Being so summoned, it does not have authority over the Crown.

  • Lanfranc

    Historically illiterate nonsense. The theoretical claim of your “King” Francis II (a claim which he himself in any case disavows) would not even arise were it not for a whole series of prior “alterations” to the succession, many of them a great deal more dubious (if not outright scandalous) than the one you presume not to “accept”.

  • paulsays

    Poly Toynbee needs to get a grip, I especially love the way her argument tumbles into a rant about tax havens at the very end – something entirely off topic, and entirely out of the monarch’s control!

    Not that I agree with tax-havens of course – I find them quite disgusting, but veering off topic hardly creates a convincing argument… more of a rant.

    Nonetheless, I can’t say that anything in my psyche ‘demands’ a monarch. I want to be my own cognitive entity – able to make my own decisions - rather than have the like or dislike of a monarchy somehow genetically programmed into me.

    As it has turned out I am neither a Republican, nor a monarchist. But the status quo suits me just fine. People can have there bunting and flags all they want – and I will join in to some degree – but just find it irrelevant and frankly awfully boring.

    I think that Mrs Phillips would find that the further North see travels, the more of my point of view she will encounter. Proximity to the royals themselves increases the emotional connection to them that she talks about. Which I’m sure I would feel more of if I lived further South.

  • Adam Thompson

     Please excuse my ignorance, but who is King Francis II?

  • JByrne24

    Not off topic at all.
    She (Polly T) reminds some that our present Queen only agreed to pay tax to the United Kingdom government quite recently.

    Before that, and during the times of previous crowned heads, the monarchy actually and effectively LIVED in a tax haven, called the United Kingdom.

  • JByrne24

    Burt wrote: “It was Rory Bremner that made that witty remark to Polly Toynbee “that she must have felt like Richard Dawkins at Christmas”. Priceless.”

    Well, not exactly priceless – more factually misleading actually.

    Although I’m not an atheist like Richard Dawkins (RD), I feel that I must point, to Rory B, yourself, Ms Phillips, and anyone else interested that RD writes somewhere (I’ve read his remarks but can’t remember where at the moment) about how he and his extended family spend Christmas day and the Christmas holiday period. 
    It sounds very jolly and upbeat. They have, he wrote, the usual Christmas decorations (including crib) and turkey dinner, all together, with paper hats ….etc – and actually sing carols together on Christmas eve and Christmas day, prior to that watching their recording of the Carol Service from King’s. 
    Much of the festival actually is pre-Christian of course, but they always include the Christian parts.

  • Nesbyth

    There was a cranky but amusing woman on Chelsea Bridge watching the Thames Pageant (ticket holders only on that Bridge) who kept saying that she had come to “see the German Princess” !!
    When a young man questioned her she said she was an admirer of “the German Princess” but she didn’t think she was the rightful monarch …who should have been a Stuart….

    It will be interesting to see if Prince Charles will become King because there is an ancient Jacobite curse on the name of Charles for a future King ever since Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated.       

    On his tomb in Rome it says something to the effect of “Here lies Charles III, uncrowned King of England …”

    Prince Charles couldn’t become Charles III, so he’ll either have to change his name or he’ll succumb to the Jacobite curse and won’t make it to the throne….watch this space…

  • paulsays

     No I don’t agree. If you look at where Polly Toynbee refers to tax havens it is not referring to the Queen paying tax herself or not.

    ‘ the sun never sets on the Queen’s dominion over more tax havens than
    any other country, an archipelago of shame from the Channel Islands, the
    Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Gibraltar, Bermuda,
    the British Virgin Islands – and the City itself’

    She is talking about the tax havens that exist as overseas territories.

  • JByrne24

    The late Diana, (poor and misused) Princess of Wales, used the phrase “the Germans”, by accounts which seem reliable, when referring to her wretched, unfaithful husband and his family.

  • JByrne24

    “…it is not referring to the Queen paying tax herself or not..”

    Yes, I know – but she reminds us of that which I mention; and I think she MEANS to remind us as well.

  • Gracchus

    The only reason we still have a monarch is because we quite like having one. She rules with the consent of the people. Were this not the case, the monarchy would have no legitimacy. I do not argue the historical fact that parliament is summoned by the authority of the crown. But the MORAL right to govern comes FROM the people. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have a constitutional monarch, we’d have a dictator. If we can’t choose to change how we’re governed should we wish, then we aren’t really a democracy. Luckily in British law, parliament is sovereign.

  • Gracchus

    Franz, Duke of Bavaria. He is heir to the Stuart line, so seen as the legitimate king by Jacobites, who do not accept the legitimacy of William and Mary succeeding James II

  • Adam Thompson

    Thank you. I confess I had never heard of him. However, whether he is the legitimate king or not, at least in a theological sense may God save him anyway!

  • JessicaHof

    Prince Charles’ father is of German- Danish descent, but was brought up mostly in the UK; his grandmother was Scottish. There was a certain type of German who would have thought that made him German, but Prince Philip fought against those Germans.

  • JessicaHof

    Margaret Beaufort was English. She married Edmund Tudor, who was Welsh. their son, Henry VII, married Elizabeth of York, whose mother was English, and whose father, Edward IV was largely English; their son, Henry VIII was English, as was Anne Boleyn, which made Elizabeth I the most English monarch since the Conquest – or so I am told.

  • JessicaHof

    The idea that the English Crown descends ‘by right’ does not stand up to examination. That was not how William I got it, so how Francis II can have it by right is unclear. Henry II had it by treaty with Stephen, Henry IV by parliament’s recognition, ditto Edward IV and Henry VII and Charles II.


    As for me, I look first for the return of the Churches eldest daughter to the Faith

    and then perhaps the ghost of young King Henry VIII, who before he became a diseased heretical letch was an ardent defender of the Faith. 

    Not much chance of an Catholic American monarchy, the US not even having honorable mention in private prophecy of the end times.

  • JByrne24

    Diana’s Germans lie on his mother’s (and maternal grandfather’s) side.

    World War 1 obliged the family to change it’s name.

  • JByrne24

    But in 1688 everything changed. 
    Elizabeth 2 is not related to Elizabeth 1.
    (Is she? Please give references if attempting to correct.)

  • JessicaHof

    Elizabeth I’s aunt was married to James V of Scotland, hence the Stuart successon. James VI/I’s daughter was married to the Elector of Hanover, hence the Hanoverian connection. The rest you can work out for yourself.

  • JessicaHof

    Normal people tend to regard place of birth and language as evidence of nationality. Elizabeth II and ever direct successor back to Goerge III was born in England and spoke English. Even the Nazis couldn’t have found someone German on that one – why out do them?

    Whilst it was still the dine thing to marry the heir to the English throne off to foreign royalty, you were stuck with German or Scandinavian princesses, as that was where you found Protestant ones.

    The notion that being married to a German princess who then came to live in the UK made you a German was popular with scabrous pamphleteers – any relation?

  • nytor

    The old aristocracy, of which the Spencers form a part, affect a haughty disdain for the royal family given how weak its claim to the throne is and how newly arrived in the country it is by comparison.

  • nytor

    Given that in the male line surname of Prince Phillip is Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg and Elizabeth II’s is Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha I fail to see how describing them as Germans is anything other than fact, ethnically.

  • JessicaHof

    You do know that these are not actually names, don’t you, but territorial designations. You’re the sort of person who’d believe the Duke of Edinburgh must be Scottish and the Prince of Wales Welsh.

  • nytor

    I don’t know who you think you are, but you make offensive presumptions. I am not “the sort of person” who would presume anything of the sort. I know perfectly well (and doubtless rather better than you do) the history of these families, and Elizabeth is from the house of Saxony, and Phillip from the house of Schleswig, both ancient German families even though they have both held other thrones (Russia, Sweden, Norway, Greece and Denmark in the case of Schleswig, and Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria and Belgium in the case of Saxony). They’re overwhelmingly German in terms of both their ethnicity and the history and connections of their families.

    George V may have changed the surname, but they’re still members of the lines above. After all, I could change my surname to Patel if I wanted to, but it wouldn’t make me of Asian origin, would it?

  • nytor

    We’re not talking about “nationality”, we’re talking about “ethnicity”, which is not at all the same thing.

  • JessicaHof

    What do you mean by ‘German’. You write casually as though victory in 1864 made Schleswig German in a meaningful sense. The old Danish Royal House would not concur, any more than Queen Alexandra would have liked being called German. You say Saxony is German, the Saxon Royal House would reject that. You seem to imagine that the Royal Houses of Europe take their ethnicity from their countries. So, are the Hapsburgs German, Austrian, and were the Romanovs also German? By the standard you seem to adopt, every Royal House of old Europe was German.

  • JessicaHof

    And what ethnicity is Prince Charles?

  • nytor

    Of course Saxony is German. The same family has held Saxony for a thousand years, under the Holy Roman Empire and then under the German Empire.

    As for Schleswig, 1864 has nothing to do with it. I am talking about the family, not the territory, and the family is a branch of the House of Oldenburg. Indisputably German when they took the Danish throne in 1448 and even more so when the main line died out and the junior branch of Glucksburg took the throne in 1863. Queen Alexandra was indeed Danish by nationality, but had overwhelmingly German blood. Not only did she come from a German dynasty in the male line, but her mother and paternal grandmother were both princesses of Hesse-Kassel.