Res publica

In this beautiful and dignified corridor are black and white photographic portraits of all the presidents of Eire. (Photo by me, Dublin Castle, 20 May 2019.) In Eire, the role of president is separate from the Taoiseach (prime minister), and is a dignified office. The person is chosen for their distinguished public life and service. In this corridor my view that a republic is more dignified, more natural, and more just was confirmed.

Corridor with presidential portraits, Dublin Castle

The reason I think the UK should be a republic (or an elected monarchy): it’s not about the person, or the family, or even the money (though the Windsor family clearly have far too much money and land). A president would probably be given a big posh house and an expensive installation ceremony.

It’s about the fact that the existence of hereditary monarchy is a symbol of hierarchy, the idea that a person is better than everyone else because they were born into a specific family. And the unfairness of the job of monarch being hereditary, and therefore forcing the royals to get married and have an heir and a spare, and to be idle whilst waiting for the throne (and open shopping centres and be gawked at), and that anyone not born into the royal family can never have the job. It’s very unlikely to ever be given to a Black person, or a LGBTQ2SIA person, or a disabled person.

In Canada we have a Governor General who is the “stand-in” for the monarch. (Currently Charles III is the king of Canada. That doesn’t even make sense.) I love that the current GG is Indigenous. Just make her a president (or other title) in her own right. Job done.

Oh and in case you were wondering why/how I get to have an opinion on the English monarchy: I am still a British citizen with a vote in the UK, as well as a Canadian citizen with a vote in Canada, which I will use to vote for the NDP as the party that stands up for Indigenous rights (albeit imperfectly).

The ancient pagan view of kingship seems to have been that the king was married to the land (at least for the Celtic peoples). This entailed certain responsibilities like fighting and dying to defend it.

This is not in any way a criticism of “hereditary chiefs” among Indigenous peoples—I am not sure exactly how that works but I think they are selected from among a pool of candidates and “hereditary chief” is a misnomer. It’s more that the system of selecting them is traditional and inherited from the ancestors. I think.

The last legitimate king of England was Harold Godwinson: because he was elected by the Witenagemot. Admittedly they were a very small electorate choosing from a small pool of candidates (the aristocracy) but the point stands that England had an elected monarchy before 1066.

Harold Godwinson, the last elected king of the English. An illustration from the Bayeux Tapestry of Harold Godwinson’s coronation. Harold sits on his throne wearing a crown and holding the orb and sceptre. The text (embroidered in Latin) says “here resides Harold, King of the English” and another caption to the right says “Archbishop Stigant”.
Before 1066, English kings were elected. Screenshot of Wikipedia stating that English kings were elected by the Witenagemot (council of the wise).

Feel free to share these graphics.

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