Debate:Should Britain ditch the monarchy and become a republic?

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Information icon.svg This debate was created by --Beenz715 (talk) 17:00, 29 December 2013 (UTC).

There is a common delusion in the United Kingdom and around the world that it is a democracy. It has a system that has democratic, elements, granted, but even with a constitutional monarchy one cannot claim it has a 'pure' democracy in my opinion. Though of course, many will disagree, so please debate below! P.S., be nice. --Beenz715 (talk) 17:03, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

As a Canadian (not of English descent, mind you), I enjoy our constitutional monarchy (for the most part)... Well, up until this current government. I'm not a fan of the amount of money spent on the Diamond Jubilee. Why is my reasoning this way? It's hard to say. I'm not a traditionalist at all, but the system as it is now seems to work decently well, and anything I see wrong with the system can still be fixed under the framework of a constitutional monarchy. At the end of the day, transitioning to a republic would be a lot of fuss for what I see as little potential gain, though I'm open to changing my view. - GrantC (talk) 17:57, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
P.S. I realize that the question asked about Britain, and not Canada, and I do realize that while Canada is a Commonwealth member and uses the Westminster system, there are still significant differences in the governance of both nations (Senate vs. House of Lords, for example). However, at its base, both countries are still constitutional monarchies, so I figured there was enough of a parallel to comment. - GrantC (talk) 17:59, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Getting rid of the monarchy won't make Britain much more democratic, as the Queen is mostly just a figurehead. If we switched to President Blair (or whoever) he'd be doing the same job on much the same budget. We would, though, be spared the nauseating media gush about the non-working members of the family. Also, the list of non- and semi-democratic republics is long. SophieWilderModerator 19:51, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

I agree with you to a certain extent - yes, of course the Queen is a figurehead and no longer is a medieval style monarch, but a hell of a lot of money is spent on her family, which could be spent on better things, such as education or the NHS. Not only this though, but they do actually hold more power than thought - Charles' tampering with the government and his meetings with ministers are a prime example, but also the fact that any pice of legislation has to be signed by the Queen. With our current Queen this is OK, but since the system is hereditary we could have a maniac on the throne, or just someone like Charles - a 'meddler'. Which reminds me who's next in line to the throne... --Beenz715 (talk) 16:28, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

The monarch's nominal approval of UK legislation is a formality & her ability to veto bills is purely theoretical. If a monarch were to try to do so, it would provoke a massive constitutional crisis, probably resulting in them being pressured to abdicate. Anyway, it just wouldn't happen; royals are very aware of what their role is & the limits of their actual power, and work with officials & advisors on their actual political duties, who wouldn't allow this sort of thing to happen. WéáśéĺóíďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 16:59, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
To some extent this kind of question is brought up in Canada as well, though admittedly, until an influential member of the royal family chooses to reside in Canada, the chances of manipulation are much less likely. The answer here, at least, is that we would just drop the monarchy when such a thing happened. One of the nice things about having a more or less tradition-based governmental system is that the monarchy isn't exactly invulnerable. I'm certain that in Canada it would come with a Constitutional challenge, and consensus of the provinces would almost certainly be required (we don't really have the same level of parliamentary superiority as exists in Britain), but still, if a future monarch were to do something outrageous, I doubt the provinces would kick up too much of a fuss about ousting him/her. Apply this line of reasoning to Britain as far as you see fit, but it's my understanding that Britain actually has fewer codified "constitutional" documents than Canada does, and parliamentary superiority is more or less firm. - GrantC (talk) 16:48, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Having fewer codified constitutional documents than Canada has wouldn't be difficult. We've got the Constitution Act of 1982, plus the 10 amendments added thus far, plus the bunch of other Acts, plus other entrenched documents like the aboriginal treaties. Compro01 (talk) 17:56, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Well yes, my point exactly. Canada's constitutional history since the BNA has been interesting, to say the least. I guess my point was more or less that even with the quantity of constitutional documents the Canadian government would have to wade through in order to ditch the monarchy, it would still be possible under the right circumstances (I can't see the provinces objecting to it if, say, some future monarch did abuse his or her powers). Many (if not most) of the constitutional documents produced in Canada since the BNA have eroded the inherent parliamentary supremacy enshrined in the Westminster system. Given that Britain does not have such a disadvantage, one would think that on paper, getting rid of the monarchy wouldn't be as difficult (though the clean-up afterwards would be monumental, I imagine). - GrantC (talk) 18:16, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
At least you've actually got a constitution. SophieWilderModerator 18:44, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Indeed; it's disadvantageous sometimes in the sense that old and outdated concepts (such as the Senate, the monarchy, Catholic schools in Ontario, etc.) effectively become impossible to change. If the Supreme Court rules that Parliament can't reform the Senate in any way without the 7/50 formula, I think we can expect the Senate to stay the way it has been for many, many more years. It took a monumental effort to get the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and still to this day Quebec has not signed it! It's a bit dysfunctional if you ask me. - GrantC (talk) 19:06, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Though our constitution is a bit more mutable than most, thanks to the multiple amendment methods based on the scope of the change, which are kinda needed thanks to some of the minutiae in the thing (e.g. see the 5th amendment). Compro01 (talk) 15:20, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. Mind you, the multiple amendment methods also have the unique quality of getting the judiciary involved, as there is generally at least one constitutional challenge to any proposed change on the grounds that the wrong amendment formula is being used. I'm quite interested in seeing which portions of the government's Senate reform question will actually be mutable. While I don't agree with abolishing the Senate in its entirety, I would like to see some reform come to the institution. - GrantC (talk) 15:24, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

The monarchy has little to do with democracy or lack thereof. It is a symbol of unity and source of national (and international!) cohesion, something the UK needs more, not less of with Scottish independence and all that. Plus it lets them sell overpriced tchotchkes to poor Americans who still think the guy announcing the royal birth was real. Sorry if it sounds trite. I think it sums up the the outcome of most monarchy debates. Stringbeans (talk) 20:15, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

A lot of people have been claiming in this debate that monarchs know their limits, and that many of their powers, such as the veto, are symbolic. I would agree that the current Queen knows her limit and is a 'good' Queen, but I still worry about her son - Charles. Charles is famous for not just his meddling but his crazy beliefs - homeopathy, for instance. In the position of King he could be far worse than he currently is. And what of monarchs even further into the future? We just don't know who'll 'know their limits' and who won't. Also, I'm not sure anyone has really covered this (though correct me if I'm wrong), but even if the monarchs we have are going to always be placid etc we're still poring a hell of a lot of money into these people. Why do we do this? We're funding people to live the most lavish lifestyles on the planet just for being born to the 'right' people. This is not only horrendous inequality but also wasted money. Why are we spending money so that the rich can stay rich while we have state run health and education systems that need funding, and plenty of homeless and unemployed people that need more support? It's insanity! --Beenz715 (talk) 13:13, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the Crown itself still owns alot of land in Great Britain, who's proceeds go to the Government, in exchange for being supported in the way they are now. Ergo that if you were to end funding for the Royal family, they would be forced to end the paying of the rents to the Government, and it would cost even more in lost revenues. There is always appropriation but that would be a legal nightmare, and could end up with an EU court coming down on the side of the Royal family. I've also said this before, but what makes anyone think becoming a republic with a president would save money? I would not be surprised if the US Prez. upkeep is higher then the British Royal Family's. --Revolverman (talk) 14:14, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Are the Royal Family's properties currently taxed? If not, that might make up for the loss of rent. Beenz, I don't think the point is so much that the monarchy "knows its limits", but it's more that as Weaseloid said above, any abuse of power on the part of the monarch would very likely immediately lead to a constitutional crisis, and the royal family would end up ousted. It would be a pain to deal with the fallout, but it's not like the Royal Family is above and beyond parliamentary supremacy. If the monarch (now or in the future) decided to abuse his or her power, popular support would most certainly turn, and eventually the Royal Family would no longer be royal. When a figurehead misbehaves, you get rid of the figurehead. Quite a few Commonwealth countries have done this already, and the only thing that makes Britain different is that it was the first Commonwealth country. Well, and that Britain has no codified constitution, so unlike some Commonwealth countries, getting rid of the monarch is actually much easier. - GrantC (talk) 15:29, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

You make a good point Grant. But here's a thought: how much do the royals actually own themselves? Buckingham palace, and many other residences of theirs, actually belong to the state, and so would continue to do so after they're ousted. Also, I think the point made about the US president doesn't hold water - just because the Americans spend rather a lot of money on the president's lifestyle doesn't mean that Britain would for its new, democratically chosen, head of state. --Beenz715 (talk) 13:05, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

The royal family costs < 50M GBP which, by modern standards, is pennies. What is more, the benefits of sending Betty or Charlie around the globe to flog our goods massively outweighs that - although I'd be hard pushed to prove or disprove that statement. The cost of the royal family is a really poor argument. Innocent Bystander (talk) 13:36, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
I doubt the Royal Family's holdings would be any more or less profitable if the monarchy were ousted. Even if we discount any history between Cromwell and now, most of the Royal Family's holdings are clearly of historical value. I suppose some additional revenue could be brought in by holding tours, but certainly here in Canada the cost of maintaining historical properties tends to go beyond any revenue the government makes through tourism. I imagine security costs would be lower, but perhaps not by so much, given the value of what's actually in most of those holdings. All in all, I'm inclined to agree with Innocent Bystander that the financial aspect of things is probably not so big a deal, and ends up being comparable with treatment of other heads of state. Now, whether the expenditure is worth it or not is more conjecture, I imagine. I personally don't find the monarchy abhorrent enough to warrant getting rid of it here in Canada, but I know a large swathe of this country does. Of course, the situation is a bit different here, as money is spent on a monarch who doesn't even have Canadian citizenship. The situation seems a bit more grey in Britain. - GrantC (talk) 15:08, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
There is? I've never seen Canadian Republicanism even exist outside of the Internet. Hell I've seen more support for Canadian Annexation by the US then for Republicanism. --Revolverman (talk) 15:39, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
So the data is sketchy at best, but there have been polls done on the subject. At the end of the day, I think most Canadians are indifferent (not likely to be activist about it), but do hold an opinion one way or the other. See here. - GrantC (talk) 16:07, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

The Queen doesn't actually have British citizenship either, as by law British citizens are her 'subjects'. What I suppose is my real problem isn't to do with logistics though but with equality and democracy. --Beenz715 (talk) 16:32, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Fair point. At least the Queen still lives in Britain. The questions about equality and democracy are altogether different, I suppose, and this is one area where Canada and Britain diverge significantly. Other than those few times when the Canadian government showers the Royal Family with money for no good reason (e.g. the Diamond Jubilee), we don't really pay for the monarchy. As far as I know, the average cost of a visit by members of the Royal Family isn't significantly different from the cost of housing visiting heads of state (aside from the cost required to maintain the Queen's residence here, which, as a historical building, would happen anyways). I can definitely see your point, though I wonder if it's any different from someone receiving "special treatment" due to receiving a significant inheritance. Is this really any different? One could argue that somewhere down the line, someone earned that inheritance (through running a business or something of the sort), but if we go back far enough, the same could probably be said about the Royal Family. At one point, the Royal Family "owned" all of Britain, after all, and their assets have been transferred to the state over time. - GrantC (talk) 16:40, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, we should. But technically a pure democracy is direct democracy, which no-one has. #DirectDemocracyForTheWin Bazer63 (talk)

Hell yes[edit]

Down with the monarchy! Get rid of their royal status, end the media coverage, and make it a parliamentary republic. Demolish the House of Lords while we're at it, and adopt a unicameral system. PBfreespace (talk) 02:33, 7 June 2016 (UTC)

Good post!--Kugelschreiber (talk) (mail) (block) 02:53, 7 June 2016 (UTC) 02:53, 7 June 2016 (UTC)