Republic Versus Monarchy - part three, section one

The Monarchy in trouble

The role of the Monarchy in Britain is not carried out solely by the actual King or Queen; but also by, and through the activities of, the other members of the Royal Family

The institution of Monarchy is, as the constitutional expert Walter Bagehot noted, that of "a family on the throne".(56)

The Royal Family was hoped to represent the ideal of family stability to which the British people could look for an example of Christian home life. Indeed, Beatrice Frost once wrote that "service" for the Royals "simply means service as a domestic role model". However, that "breathless awe", with which British Royalty has been regarded since the reign of Queen Victoria, has begun to fade dramatically in the 1990s.(57)

On November 23rd, 1992, at a banquet to celebrate 40 years on the throne and 45 years of her marriage, Queen Elizabeth II admitted that 1992 had been her "annus horribilis". A. N. Wilson attempted to sum up the Royal disappointments of that year: "In March Prince Andrew, the Queen's favorite son, announced that his marriage to Sarah Ferguson was over. A few months later, his sister had divorced her husband, Captain Mark Phillips. By the end of the year, "Fergie", otherwise known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York, had been photographed in the South of France having her toes sucked by a "financial adviser" from Texas; Charles and Diana had announced their separation; the Queen had been forced to pay income tax; and, even in the most conservative quarters, the unthinkable question was being asked: could the Monarchy survive?".(58)

That the Royal Family has been brought into disrepute is beyond doubt, and clearly evidenced by the following headlines: In 1956, Malcolm Muggeridge, writing in the New Statesman, had coined the phrase "the Royal soap opera". Prince Charles had later himself warned that "The Monarchy is in danger of being denigrated to the status of a soap opera". It would appear that such a warning has become reality: in Australia alone royalty-focussed magazines like New Idea and Woman's Day sell in excess of 1,000,000 copies each week.(59)

The use of a "family on the throne" is outmoded, and has not survived as a "stabilising influence" in the modern media. To be represented by such a "Royal Family" is no advantage and can only be remedied by their removal.

It should be noted, however, that what Thomas Keneally stated is true: "if the entire extended family of the Monarchy behaved impeccably, there would still be overriding reasons for Australia to become a Republic".(60)

There are those who would miss the "mystery", "mystique", and "appeal to the imagination" provided by the Monarchy. but, as wryly noted by Donald Horne,

Republic Versus Monarchy

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