Advantages and Benefits of Monarchy
This Discussion Paper sets out ideas and concepts about the advantages and benefits of a monarchical system, especially of the type proposed in Our Charter, to explore and stimulate further discussion by Local Meetings and interested people.
Contemporary Monarchy and our national identity
- Embodiment of our multi-ethnic or fusion heritage
The Australian Sovereign's multi-ethnic and multi-national genealogy reflects the nation's genealogies formed by centuries of migration and intercultural fusion. As an example, Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) and here, the consort of Australia's first sovereign George III, had Moorish or African ancestry, and was often depicted as dark skinned with negroid features. She became an emblem of the anti-slavery movement in Britain and the West Indies, and her portrait became an icon in African slave quarters. Contemporary right wing commentators in the United States continue to sneer at her, such as in this review of British historian Christoper Hibbert's biography of George III which refers to the Queen's 'simian features'.
It is notable that almost all of the place names commemorating Queen Charlotte in Australia have been changed, altered or removed, 'cleansed' from White Australia. Charlotte Place in Sydney was once a fashionable address on Church Hill, but like several other the the Queen's toponyms it no longer exists. Only Queen Charlotte's Vale and its eponymous little stream seem to survive on the high tablelands near Bathurst in central western NSW.
As an illustration of this continuing disdain among the present anti-monarchy elite, and their emulation of Americanist styles, the fusion ancestry of Queen Elizabeth II is often sneeringly referred to by Australian republicans as evidence of her 'foreign-ness' and thus unsuitability to reign. The increasingly multi-ethnic heritage of many Australians seems to escape them.
- Immunisation against 51st statism
The Australian Crown is not American, and maintaining the Australian Crown is a solid guarantee against the incorporation of Australia into the United States - Article 4 of the US Constitution states: The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.
Several American commentators have suggested Australia become their 51st state: see for example David Mosler (2003); Australian commentators have used the idea to explore the current relationship between the two countries, such as Erik Paul (2006); it even crops up in a contemporary Australian blues band's on-line forum (2006). A strand of inevitablism runs through both the American and Australian commentary on this subject. The discussion paper 'Remember Hawaii' (in preparation) will provide a historical dimension to this issue.
- Beyond nationalism
The Australian Crown is a foil to the excesses of the xenophobic nationalism that underlies much Australian republicanism, as evident in the former masthead of The Bulletin magazine and an old slogan of the ALP: "Australia for the Whiteman, China for the Chinaman". Sadly this crude racial nationalism seems to be resurfacing in the Labor Party's opposition to 'foreign labour'. The actions of conservative republicans such as successive federal ministers for immigration who have created and maintained the gulag of immigration detention camps over the past decade also speaks of this nationalism based upon a fear of difference.
Celebrating the Australian sovereign's fusion ancestry provides a unifying and worldly element that contrasts with the divisiveness and narrow-mindedness of exclusive forms of race-based nationalism. The sovereign reigns as the inclusive symbol embodying all of the Australian people. Racial nationalism is by its very nature antagonised by the mere existence of the multi-origined monarchy. Paradoxically, the Australian Crown also ensures by its very existence that such race-nationalism can never be considered a legitimate element in Australian's cultural identity.
Contemporary Monarchy and our political/administrative structures
Contemporary Monarchy and our social and cultural institutions
- The Australian Crown is above and beyond partisan politics and interests, representing the national interest equally for all citizens and parties.
- The Australian Crown provides one of several sources of power (along with an independent judiciary, parliamentary upper houses of review, and a federal system, for example, that function as checks and balances and prevent the accumulation of absolute power in any single office or level of government).
- The Australian Crown can grant clemency in exceptional circumstances deriving from considerations of mercy and justice, rather than partisan interests.
- The Australian Crown is a hereditary office, not dependent upon short-term interests and factions for survival.
- The Australian Crown provides for the separation of the ceremonial and representative functions of the head of state from party political functions.
- The Australian Crown is the one public office in the land that cannot be influenced or directed or occupied or bought by politicians and their supporters for their own personal or sectional interests.
- The Australian Crown is a stable and enduring office that symbolically links our history with our future through the continuity of hereditary stewardship.
- The Australian Crown is the centrepiece of national rituals and commemorations that all citizens can identify with and which provide a focus for national unity regardless of partisan or factional differences and allegiances.
- The Australian Crown is the stable element in our constantly changing society, especially where a single sovereign reigns over many years while partisan governments come and go with the political cycles.
- The Australian Crown is well known and respected as a symbol of the whole nation and all of its people when representing Australia to the world at large.
Monarchy: capacity to evolve and modernise
Some other discussions and proposals that can contribute to thinking about new 'cadet' monarchies in the Commonwealth descended from the British crown can be seen in these sites:
Monarchy: some quotes
- Geoffrey Blainey, The Age, March 2000. Most Australians - contrary to what is constantly claimed - are not yet republicans. The Queen, touring the country with dignity at this slightly touchy time, says that she sees herself as the servant of the Australian Constitution and of the people. It is fair to suggest that many of Australia's republican leaders do not quite see themselves as so answerable.
- Winston Churchill, 8 April 1945. This war would never have come unless, under American and modernising pressure, we had driven the Habsburgs out of Austria and the Hohenzollerns out of Germany. By making these vacuums we gave the opening for the Hitlerite monster to crawl out of its sewer on to the vacant thrones. No doubt these views are very unfashionable....
- Winston Churchill, 26 April 1946. If the Allies at the peace table at Versailles had allowed a Hohenzollern, a Wittelsbach and a Habsburg to return to their thrones, there would have been no Hitler. A democratic basis of society might have been preserved by a crowned Weimar in contact with the victorious Allies.
- Sir Michael Forsyth, speech 26 January 1999. The monarchy's most important constitutional function is simply to be there: by occupying the constitutional high ground, it denies access to more sinister forces; to a partisan or corrupt president, divisive of the nation; or even to a dictator. The Queen's powers are a vital safeguard of democracy and liberty.
- Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 29 September 1997 Americans also seem to believe that the monarchy is a kind of mediaeval hangover, encumbered by premodern notions of decorum; the reality is that the British monarchy, for good or ill, is a modern political institution - perhaps the first modern political institution.
- Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, July 1998. This country suffered greatly as a result of the abolition of the monarchy in 1970. We support it, because it is an institution the country needs, for its unity and its development. There is a Cambodian proverb which says "While you are eating fruit, don't forget who planted it". We must not forget our King and his vital role in securing a victory for democracy in our country. If he had not remained here during the elections, or if he had not personally appealed to our citizens to vote, the population would without doubt have been afraid to participate and we would not have achieved the 90% turn out that we did. And perhaps the international observers would not have agreed to come.
- Kwasi Kwarteng, The Daily Telegraph, 31st October 1997. The Prince of Wales, as so often, has demonstrated his common sense in the words he spoke on Wednesday (during his visit to southern Africa). His demeanour is a perfect illustration of the benefits of a constitutional monarchy. In the heat of euphoria, in the midst of all the blather about a "new" this and a "new" that, his is a message of modernisation and wisdom. We would do well to heed it.
- Jack Lang, French Minister of Culture, October 1993. I notice that the constitutional monarchies are the most democratic countries of Europe. I can't understand how there could be any debate about it.
- C S Lewis. Monarchy can easily be debunked, but watch the faces, mark well the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach - men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes or film stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.
- Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii after the overthrow of the monarchy by US Marines in 1893. I owe no allegiance to the Provisional Government established by a minority of the foreign population .... nor to anyone save the will of my people and the welfare of my country.
- Jacques Monet, Canadian historian. [A] king is a king, not because he is rich and powerful, not because he is a successful politician, not because he belongs to a particular creed or to a national group. He is King because he is born. And in choosing to leave the selection of their head of state to this most common denominator in the world - the accident of birth - Canadians implicitly proclaim their faith in human equality; their hope for the triumph of nature over political manoeuvre, over social and financial interest; for the victory of the human person.
- William Shawcross, "The Irish case for monarchy", The Daily Telegraph, 30th October 1997. Monarchy is often criticised for being a lottery, but so is an elected presidency. Britain last had to play the regal lottery in 1952, when it won handsomely. It has not had to gamble again since then. In the past 45 years Ireland has had to vote in seven presidents, few of them memorable, most of them just grazing.
- Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, 1973. Canadians should realise when they are well off under the Monarchy. For the vast majority of Canadians, being a Monarchy is probably the only form of government acceptable to them. I have always been for parliamentary democracy and I think the institution of Monarchy with the Queen heading it all has served Canada well.
- Max Weber, German economist. Parliamentary monarchy fulfils a role which an elected president never can. It formally limits the politicians' thirst for power because with it the supreme office of the state is occupied once and for all.
- Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister of Australia, on the day of his vice-regal dismissal, 11 November 1975. Well may we say 'God Save the Queen', because nothing will save the Governor-General.
Monarchy: some definitions
Dictionary definitions of 'monarchy' are not very helpful in describing or understanding the institution of monarchy. Some examples are provided as discussion aids:
- Nuttall's Standard Dictionary of the English Language (London 1932): Monarchy n. mon-ark-e, a government in which the supreme power is vested in a monarch; a kingdom; Monarchism n. mon-ark-izm, the principles of monarchy; a preference for monarchy.
- The Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language (Chicago 1971):mon.ar.chy, n., a state or country in which the supreme power is either actually or nominally placed in the hands of a king, queen, or other monarch; the system of government in which power is vested in a monarch; mon.ar.chism, n., the principles of monarchy; advocacy of a monarchy or a monarch.
- Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary (Melbourne 1987): monarchy n. (State under) monarchical government, constitutional or LIMITed monarchy; monarchism n.principles of, attachment to, monarchy.
- New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd Ed., (Apple Computer v1.0.1, 2005): mon.ar.chy, noun, (pl. -chies), a form of government with a monarch at the head, a state that has a monarch, (the monarchy) the monarch and royal family of a country: the monarchy is the focus of loyalty and service; mon.ar.chism, noun, support for the principle of having monarchs.
- Macquarie Concise Dictionary, 4th Edition (Sydney 2006): monarchy n. (pl. -chies) 1. a government or state in which supreme power is actually or nominally lodged in a monarch. 2. Supreme power or sovereignty wielded by a single person. monarchism n. 1. the principles of monarchy. 2. advocacy of monarchical principles.
Note that although this dictionary describes itself as Australia's national dictionary, its entry for Elizabeth II reads: n. born 1926, became Queen of Great Britain in 1952; daughter of George VI. - apparently unaware of her Australian title or position in the Australian polity or consciousness.