Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Why Prince Charles (and William) Should See Cabinet Papers

It has recently come to the attention of the media that the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge routinely receive confidential Cabinet papers, to keep them up-to-date on the workings of the Government. Yes, the Government that will one day act in each of their names. Literally. 'His Majesty's Government'.

Cue the predictable outcry from the usual suspects, arguing that it is undemocratic that unelected Princes should be privy to confidential Government documents. Of course it's undemocratic. We have a constitutional monarchy, not a presidential republic, you imbeciles.

We have an unelected head of state, where the office passes down by lineal descent. We know, therefore, barring a huge change in circumstances, who our next head of state will be, and the next, and the next. It is entirely reasonable, under those circumstances, for the future incumbents to be schooled in what the job entails, so that when the time comes, the transition will be as smooth as possible. The criticism is not, therefore, that the future heirs to the throne have privileged access to the workings of the Government, but that we have a throne at all.

Well, that's silly, isn't it? Firstly because, if we were to have a referendum on the abolition of the monarchy, it would lose by a landslide. The vast majority of the UK population support the monarchy and its continuance. The institution of the monarchy enjoys de facto democratic consent, therefore any argument that it is undemocratic is faintly ridiculous while there continues to be such high public support for its continuance.

Secondly, constitutional monarchy is the most stable and balanced form of government known to man. It provides democratic accountability through an elected legislature balanced with a check on radicalism through the monarchy. It also provides a figurehead which the entire nation looks up to and cleaves to. Humans are tribal creatures, and most need the sense that they belong to something greater than themselves. Monarchy provides that. Constitutional monarchies are far more likely to be rich and prosperous and far less likely to be prone to political crises.

So stop moaning about the fact that the future Kings have access to the workings of the Government that will act in their name. Christ, it'd be a hideous oversight if they didn't.