Is British Monarchy obsolete? 

As we are entering coronation week, let’s reflect on the role of the British Monarchy in our society today.  

British Monarchy is one of the oldest and most iconic institutions in the world. For centuries, it has been the symbol of British national identity and a source of pride for its people. However, in today’s rapidly changing world, the relevance of the monarchy has been called into question. Many argue that it is an outdated institution that serves no practical purpose in modern society. Others believe that it remains an important symbol of national unity and continuity. In this blog, I will explore both sides of the argument and ask whether the British monarchy is obsolete or relevant in 2023.

British Monarchy not my king collage

Firstly, it is important to consider the historical significance of the institution. The British monarchy has a rich and fascinating history that spans over a thousand years. It has survived wars, revolutions, and numerous political upheavals. Through it all, the monarchy has remained a constant symbol of British identity and values. It has also played an important role in shaping British culture and society. From the patronage of the arts to the establishment of charitable foundations, kings and queens have significantly contributed to the country’s cultural and social development.

However, despite its rich history, some argue that the monarchy is an outdated institution that no longer serves a practical purpose. The role of monarchs in modern Britain is largely ceremonial, with the King acting as a figurehead for the country. While the King in Britain does perform some important constitutional duties, such as opening Parliament and approving legislation, these are largely symbolic gestures with little practical impact. Additionally, the cost of maintaining the monarchy is significant, with the British taxpayer funding the Royal Family’s lavish lifestyle.

Furthermore, critics argue that the monarchy is undemocratic and that the idea of a hereditary head of state is fundamentally at odds with the principles of democracy. In a society that values equality and meritocracy, the idea of an individual being born into a position of power and privilege is archaic and unfair. While the Queen was widely respected and admired, her position was based solely on her birthright and not on any particular talent or skill. We cannot say anything about King Charles III yet but since his ascension to the throne the popular consensus for the Royal Family in the UK has significantly declined. Nearly 40 per cent of Generation Z are in favour of abolishing the monarchy, a new YouGov poll has found. Some 38 per cent of  18 to 24-year-olds want to replace the Crown with an elected head of state. Another finding in the study was that 78 per cent of 18-24-year-olds are ‘not interested’ in the Royal Family. It also revealed that 40 per cent of that young age bracket think it is bad value for money – although this falls to 32 per cent as a total figure across all age groups. The research comes as anti-monarchists led by the group Republic continue to use the upcoming coronation at Westminster Abbey on 6th May to push their calls for an elected head of state.

The campaign group,  led by chief executive Graham Smith, is planning big protests on Coronation Day as they urge thousands to descend on the procession route between Buckingham Palace and the Abbey with yellow T-shirts and placards proclaiming ‘Not My King‘.

Also, a Just Stop Oil activist suggested the group could disrupt the King’s coronation, saying they will do ‘whatever is non-violently necessary to save us’.

On the other hand, supporters of the monarchy argue that it remains an important symbol of national unity and continuity. The King is not just the head of state, but also a unifying figure for the country. His public appearances and speeches theoretically would serve to bring the nation together, especially during times of crisis. For example, Queen Elizabeth’s speeches during the Covid-19 pandemic were widely praised for their reassurance and optimism.

Additionally, the monarchy plays an important role in promoting British interests abroad. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family have always acted as ambassadors for the country, promoting British culture and business interests overseas. Their visits to foreign countries serve to strengthen diplomatic ties and enhance Britain’s standing on the world stage.

Furthermore, while the cost of maintaining the monarchy is significant, supporters argue that it is a small price to pay for the benefits it brings. The Crown is a major tourist attraction, with millions of visitors coming to the UK every year to see the royal palaces and watch the Changing of the Guard. The Royal Family also contributes significantly to the UK economy through their patronage of businesses and charities.

The question of whether the British monarchy is obsolete or relevant in 2023 is a complex one. While some argue that it is an outdated institution that no longer serves a practical purpose, others believe that it remains an important symbol of national unity and continuity. The monarchy has a rich and fascinating history and has played an important role in shaping British culture and society. However, the cost of maintaining the Royal Family and their lavish lifestyle is significant, and the idea of a hereditary head of state is seen by some as undemocratic.

Ultimately, the decision on the future of the monarchy should be made by the British people.

 

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