Saturday 19 February 2011

Prince William not representing UK in Canada

Journalists and commentators writing about the Royal Wedding do not appear to fully understand the nature of our Monarchy. Several notable publications have made basic but major errors in their reporting of the royal couple's trip to Canada. For example, BBC America has stated that the trip to Canada will be a "state visit"and Hello Magazine declares that whilst in Canada the royal newlyweds will be "flying the flag for Britain", with Prince William's wife acting as a British "ambasadress".

Let's get the protocol straight:

During their Canadian tour The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be flying the flag for Canada not Britain. Prince William and his wife will be the future King and Queen of Canada. When a member of the Royal Family visits Canada, Australia, New Zealand or any of Her Majesty's 15 realms outside the UK, they are not acting as "Ambassadors" for Britain, they are representing the Canadian Crown, Australian Crown etc. This is an important distinction.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were invited by the Canadian government and the trip will be paid for by Canadian taxpayers. Britain and the British government play no role whatsoever in the relationship between Canada, the Canadian government and the future King of Canada.

Similarly, The Queen and members of the Royal Family do not make "state visits" to Commonwealth Realms. Such trips may be styled "Royal Tours", "Royal Visits" or even "Royal Homecomings" but certainly not state visits.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Prince William & Catherine Middleton to visit Canada -- That Most Loyal Realm

Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton's first overseas trip as a married couple will be to Canada, it has been announced today. This is an excellent decision. In recent years Canada has demonstrated itself to be, arguably, the most loyal and royalist of The Queen's realms (along with NZ perhaps). The remarkably warm reception accorded to The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during their tour of Canada last year was noted by the Royal Household and it seems clear to me that they are hoping for a repeat for the newly married royal couple. Thus the first major non-British event for the newly married couple will be to attend the Canada Day / Dominion Day festivities on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1st (the day after they land in Canada). The presence of The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Ottawa's festivities last July 1st drew a record crowd. We can be certain that a similar, if not greater, number will turnout to greet the young royals.

The Royal Canadian Homecoming will be organised by veteran royal/ceremonial organiser, Kevin MacLeod CVO, Canadian Secretary to The Queen and Usher of the Black Rod.

Canada's monarchist credentials were further demonstrated today in the statements issued by the Canadian Governor General and Prime Minister. Congratulations to both.

Message from His Excellency the Rt. hon. David Johnson, Governor General of Canada

February 16, 2011
OTTAWA—As Her Majesty’s representative in Canada, it is a great privilege to announce visits from members of the Royal Family.
My wife, Sharon, and I will be honoured to welcome His Royal Highness Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton, during their upcoming Royal Tour this summer.
Canadians from across our smart and caring nation will have the opportunity to greet the newly married couple and demonstrate our collective warmth and hospitality. David Johnston

Message from The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada:
“Canada is delighted that Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton will be travelling to Canada as they embark on their first overseas tour as a married couple. Their tour will take place from June 30 to July 8, 2011 and will include Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and the National Capital Region.
“Canada looks forward to welcoming the young couple this summer and providing them with all that our country has to offer – including, of course, the special hospitality and warmth reserved for members of the Royal Family.” 
“It is my sincere hope that their tour will be the start of a lasting relationship with Canada by the Royal Couple.”
The couple’s decision to visit Canada first is “a testament to our country’s very close relationship with the Royal Family – a bond of loyalty and affection illustrated by the crowds that turned out for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh last year, and the mounting excitement for Her Majesty’s upcoming Diamond Jubilee which will be celebrated in Canada throughout 2012.”
“On behalf of all Canadians, I congratulate Prince William and Miss Middleton on their upcoming wedding and look forward to many more tours in the future.”

Official Announcement:

Royal Tour Announcement

February 16, 2011

His Royal Highness Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton to Undertake a Royal Tour of Canada

OTTAWA—His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, is pleased to announce that His Royal Highness Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton have accepted the invitation to undertake a Royal Tour of Canada, extended to them on behalf of the Government of Canada.
The Royal Tour by Prince William and Miss Middleton will include Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and the National Capital Region. The tour will take place from June 30 to July 8, 2011.
The Royal Tour will be coordinated by Mr. Kevin MacLeod, C.V.O., C.D., Canadian Secretary to The Queen. A detailed itinerary will be published at a later date by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Countering Republican Arguments - Part Two

Part One:  Part One may be read HERE

President vs Monarch

A Monarch remains above party politics and can therefore truly represent the entire nation. Removed from the political fray the Crown remains untainted by the machinations of the political class. The election of a Head of State, by contrast, will always be divisive, with the winner unable to fully represent the totality of the nation. A portion of those who did not vote for the winner will understandably be upset or angry with the election result – recent examples include the election of George Bush and Barack Obama in the United States of America. 

Moreover, once elected, the involvement of a Head of State in the political affairs of a nation will inevitably be controversial, the Head of State representing only the segment of the nation that agrees with his actions. Both the Bush and Obama presidencies have revealed deep divisions within American society, with the angry protests they received clearly illustrating the difficulties faced by an elected president in achieving national unity or attempting to appear as representative of “the people”.

Of course, there are many republics whose heads of state do not play a role in government (Germany and Italy for example) but all presidents, be they German, Italian or Irish,  are invariably ex-politicians, have a political history or are selected by a political party.  The simple fact that the head of state has a political past will always make it far more difficult to represent all citizens and truly symbolise the nation. 

There are other concerns:

·        The election of a head of state may also cause that individual to believe he has an electoral mandate from the people to oppose the government or advance an agenda of his own. 

·         The desire for re-election and to defeat political opponents also affords opportunities to bring the executive office (and the country) in to disrepute (Richard Nixon’s presidency tainted the office, and by extension the state).

·         A limited-term president keen to secure his financial future after leaving office could be tempted to engage in activities which might bring the office into disrepute

In addition, with some exceptions, it should be noted that European presidents tend to be dull and boring.  Angela Merkel and Sylvio Berlusconi are respectively the heads of government in Germany and Italy but who knows who these countries' presidents are?   Is that what we want in Britain? Do we want to abolish 1,000 years of tradition and replace it with a forgettable, tired old political hack?   

Cost of the Monarchy

The Monarchy has been extremely open about its finances in recent years with reports freely available. The cost of the monarchy is £38 million per year, or 62 pence per person, which is down from 67 pence per person last year. That seems a fair price to pay for the world’s oldest democratic constitution and for centuries of stability and continuity. It certainly costs a lot less than the maintenance of the presidents of the United States or of France. If Britain were to abolish the monarchy, we would still need to pay for an elected/appointed head of state.

The Royal Household has implemented dramatic cutbacks over the past several years and has not had a pay increase since 1992 despite being due an increase in 2002 and 2012. The Sovereign has been forced to dip into the Royal Household’s private reserve, but it is believed that this will be exhausted by 2012. Buckingham Palace is among various royal buildings in dire need of repair (fairly recently the Princess Royal was almost hit by a piece of falling masonry) and the royal household is cutting back on both staff and salaries.

In reality, however, the Crown costs nothing because the source of The Queen’s income, the Civil List, is provided to the Sovereign in exchange for the revenue from the Crown Estate, lands held by the Sovereign in right of the Crown, which was originally surrendered to the Government by King George III in 1760.  Generating £210 million for the treasury annually, the Crown Estate contributes far more to state coffers than it takes away.  

Most importantly, during the recent Spending Review the Chancellor made an historic announcement, declaring that the Civil List will be abolished in 2013, to be replaced by a Sovereign Support Grant taken directly from the Crown Estate (and equivalent to the amount the Sovereign currently receives) – in other words, from 2013 the Monarchy will cost taxpayers absolutely nothing.


Anti-Monarchists have a very real problem with the concept of bowing to another individual.  As part of the wider trend of cultural and national iconoclasm, and general contempt for authority and institutions, deference to the Monarchy is increasingly treated with disdain.

By bowing to the Monarch we are not bowing to a person but to the mighty symbol that person personifies. Deference arises from an appreciation of the importance of something. As a lawyer will bow and show deference to a judge and a professor to a university chancellor, so we show deference to the Crown, the fount of all authority and honour. To be able to show deference is a sign of both maturity and humility, as one acknowledges symbolic significance and value; an individual’s failure to show deference is more revealing of his/her sense of ego/self-importance.

Popularity of the Monarchy

In 2009 an ICM poll commissioned by the BBC found that 76% of those asked wanted the monarchy to continue after the Queen’s reign, against 18% of people who said they would favour Britain becoming a republic and 6% who said they did not know

Friday 4 February 2011

Justice & Atonement: A Statement by H.I.H. Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

January 24, 2011
Justice and Atonement
A Statement by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia,
Washington, DC

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Countering Republican Arguments - Part One

There are many questions to be asked of those seeking the Monarchy’s abolition: with what would we replace the Monarchy? Would we elect or appoint the new Head of State? Who would decide this? What would be the financial cost of changing all government department names, removing all references to the “Crown”, “Royal” etc?  What are the potential constitutional and legal implications?  We recognise the Sovereign as the source of power and legitimacy -- how would the legitimacy of the new head of state be established? Without a Sovereign, how would the state be represented and personified? And, most importantly, how would the abolition of the Monarchy improve the nation?

Our ancient system of government has been an example to the world. Mature and civilised nations do not vandalise and destroy their institutional and national heritage. When the states of Eastern Europe threw off the communist yoke they immediately resurrected their historic institutions and national symbols. They appreciated their importance and understood their value in establishing national identity, a sense of pride and a sense of place.

Monarchy is Anti-Catholic
It is true that the Act of Settlement, 1701 discriminates against Roman Catholics but this is hardly the fault of the Crown. It was an elected, democratic, anti-Catholic Parliament, disturbed by the Crown's tolerance of Catholicism, that enacted the Act of Settlement and insisted upon its acceptance. The accusation of religious prejudice, if it must be placed anywhere, should be with Parliament.  It is not for the Sovereign to amend the Act of Settlement or alter the anti-Catholic provisions of the law of succession – this is Parliament’s job. 

The history of the modern Monarchy has been one of warm relationship with Roman Catholics. Edward VII and George V protested vehemently against the practice of opening a new Sovereign’s first Parliament with an anti-Catholic statement of belief and they insisted upon its amendment. Our own Queen enjoys a close relationship with Roman Catholics and bestowed the Order of Merit on the late Cardinal Hume, one of the highest honours she can confer.

Repeal the Act of Settlement
The Act of Settlement, 1701 would be difficult to repeal or amend as it is no longer exclusive to the British constitution; for it also regulates the succession to the throne in all of The Queen's Realms and is equally a part of their constitutions. These realms each have their own separate and independent legislatures and, for those states that have patriated the law, any change made by the Westminster Parliament would be of no force or effect insofar as they are concerned.

Were the British Government to decide to unilaterally alter the Act of Settlement it might lead to a situation whereby the line of succession to the throne in Britain differed from other Commonwealth realms, possibly resulting in a different Sovereign for Britain than for Canada or Australia. The seriousness and significance of this cannot be overstated. Indeed, to guard against this possibility a convention was established via the preamble to the 1931 Statute of Westminster, which clearly states:

And whereas it is meet and proper to set out by way of preamble to this Act that, inasmuch as the Crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as they are united by a common allegiance to the Crown, it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

In other words, for the sake of the unity of the Crown, any change to the Act of Settlement will require the unanimous consent of the Parliaments of all the Commonwealth Realms. As a preamble the above quoted passage cannot be cited as an enforceable piece of legislation, nevertheless it has been held to be a binding convention. Britain cannot act unilaterally if it wishes to retain the unity of the Crown. If the Act of Settlement is ever amended or repealed it is imperative that any change be enacted, concurrently, on a multi-lateral basis by all of those Commonwealth Realms for which the Act of Settlement has become a patriated law.