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April 14, 2005

Maurice & Gerhard discuss the Royal Wedding

Posted by Hector Boffey

Like millions of others around the world Maurice and Gerhard spent the afternoon of 9th April 2005 in front of their respective television sets. The following transcript of a subsequent conversation between them is available exclusively to readers of the Social Affairs Unit:

I must say Maurice, I found the weekend's televiewing compulsive watching.

So did I Gerhard. There is no doubt that the British Grand National is one of the greatest sporting events in the world. It involves a quite astonishing degree of courage, nerve and skill. Only the British could devise something quite so brutal. I never miss it, and I am happy to report that I placed a bet of one hundred euros on Hedgehunter at 7-1. I am consequently happy to lunch you at the Comme Chez Soi on my winnings. It is very seldom that senior Brussels officials pay for their own lunch but on this occasion I am delighted to foot the bill for both of us.

Thank you, Maurice, that's most kind, and I accept with thanks. But I was referring to the wedding of the Prince Wales to Mrs Parker Bowles, not the Grand National.

Ah, the wedding.

Yes, the wedding. I was interested in your reaction and your view upon what it portends for the future of the British monarchy.

What a peculiar nation the British are, Gerhard! The Queen refused to be present at her son's wedding! So did his father! The bride wore grey. The Queen, who deigned to appear at the subsequent service of blessing and dedication, wore white. The bride and groom prayed for forgiveness for acts of adultery. How extraordinary! Just imagine the consequences if similar acts of contrition were required of those aspiring to become French heads of state. They would be on their knees in prayer for a month! Of course, the pomp, the ceremonial, the music the grandeur of the Castle were all magnificent, if not on the scale of the Charles-Diana wedding. But I imagine the food was dreadful.

Do you believe that it all went off sufficiently well to ensure Charles the succession? There has been much talk that Charles will make a poor king and that the throne should therefore pass to William.

I leave all of sort of speculation of that kind to the readers of Hello magazine. In ten years' time the King of England, whoever he is, will have as much political significance as the Beefeaters at the Tower of London. Unlike them he may be able to choose whether to allow himself to be photographed being kissed by large matrons from Philadelphia, but that will be the extent of his authority.

Maurice, I defer to you on constitutional matters but I do not think you take into account the degree to which the monarch is central to the British political system. The monarch in Parliament is sovereign.

And what is the task of the Parliament?

To pass laws, like all parliaments.

Exactly. And where do laws that govern the subjects of the United Kingdom come from these days.

I get your drift Maurice.

Good, then you will know that around sixty per cent of laws originate in Brussels designed by conscientious but gloriously unaccountable European bureaucrats like you and me. And that proportion will increase with the ratification of the European Constitution, and it will go on increasing with every subsequent turn of the integrationist ratchet.

The new King will, of course still be head of State.

A mere formality. The head of a state that is slowly dying. As Hans Martin Bury, the German minister for Europe said the other day the Constitution is the birth certificate of the United States of Europe. And as that state comes into being the old order will fade and perish. Charles may aspire to be head of state, but by the time he achieves his ambition his state will be no more than a shell, its residual assets having been run down or passed on to new owners. Members of His Majesty Armed forces will be part of the euro-army. His Majesty's Ambassadors will have been handed over to the new EU diplomatic service the process has already begun - and the embassies sold off. And so on, and so forth.

And the King will become a commoner?

He will be a sham monarch presiding over a non-existent state. I suspect that for a time being the British will go on pretending that nothing serious has happened. Just as fifty years ago they pretended that the Empire still existed but was operating under the new title of Commonwealth. This, of course, will be an illusion but it will ease the pangs of loss, and few people can live without illusion.

But one thing puzzles me, Maurice. Why have the British royals consented to their own demise? The Royal family may be dysfunctional, even deranged, but the Queen is still more popular than any other head of state in the world. The British constitutional monarchy was once envied throughout the civilised world. It produced heads of state that were not corrupt, who symbolised national unity and cohesion, and who, moreover, were not linked to the gravy-train of politics.

Well may you ask! I think part of the answer is that the British family are not very bright with the exception possibly of the Duke who is thoroughly irascible and to whom no one consequently listens. Moreover, the Queen has always shown herself unwilling to become embroiled in political controversy and to use what limited constitutional powers she possesses. And the political elites have gently guided her in a direction that leads gradually but inexorably to the extinction of everything she stands for.

What about the Privy Counsel? Aren't its members supposed to protect as well as advise her?

So they are Gerhard. They even sign an oath of allegiance committing them:

to defend the Queen against all foreign princes, persons, prelates states, or potentates.
But they are mostly ex-ministers, the very people responsible for bringing Britain into the EU. Some of them were quite plainly contemplating top jobs in Brussels when the British electorate tired of them - Brittan, Kinnock and Patten for example - and they were not disappointed. Although keen to hang to the words "Right Honourable" before their names in order to denote their membership of the Privy Council none of them had qualms about declaring another oath of loyalty - to the EU on taking up their jobs here.

I must say that it sounds, Maurice, as if you feel some sympathy for the Queen's predicament.

I am not sure she realises the extent to which she is in a predicament. But the decline of a great royal house is not without sadness. While the Prince of Wales has spent his time addressing pot plants and his courtiers have endlessly debated whether upon marriage his mistress should become a princess, a duchess or a queen, the foundations on which the House of Windsor has been patiently constructed have been steadily dismantled. It is a spectacle which is at once sad and absurd. But I will not allow it to spoil our lunch. I may even propose a toast to the happy couple!

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Given all the pointless whining of the media, rendered meaningless by a rather good wedding and reasonably solid public support, shouldn't the Privy Counsel pledge to protect the Head of State from '...prelates, states, potentates or impotentates.'? Not to mention the, um, self-impotent...

Posted by: s j masty at April 14, 2005 09:51 PM
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