by Nat Ogborn, London

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I am a committed monarchist. I think the Royal Family is good for Britain.

With Prince William and Kate Middleton being the new Posh and Becks, now is a good time to be a monarchist.

But I would like to think that my veneration for the institution goes deeper than royal wedding fever. I believe that constitutionally it is beneficial to have a royal family.

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Why do I think this?

Most importantly, if a system works then there is no need to change it. The Royal Family works. British government is stable, has a long history of democratic engagement with the public and is not known for oppressing its citizens.

The last overthrow of government other than through constitutional means was in 1688, and even that was a peaceful revolution. I’m not sure how ending an institution that has existed peaceably alongside the evolution of democracy in Britain would improve the situation.

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There is no evidence that republics are better than monarchies. Europe is a good example. Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands all have a monarch. Germany, France, Italy do not. The latter group are not worse or better places to live in.

Spain reintroduced their monarchy in 1978 in an attempt to get rid of a secular dictatorship and the king was instrumental in introducing democratic reforms.

Monarchy of the people, for the people

It is true that the Royal Family inherit position rather than get elected based on merit. I am fine with this for several reasons.

Firstly, if people were really bothered by it, they would want to end it. They do not. The last opinion polls show support for the monarchy hovering around 80%.

If the monarchy was genuinely unpopular, then it would go. It isn’t, so it can stay. This makes its undemocratic nature paradoxically democratic.

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Secondly, I’m not sure that it is good to have elected officials at all levels of government. I like the fact that the armed forces swear allegiance to the Queen rather than the Prime Minister.

It shows that power does not rest ultimately with the person who has the power. It may be only symbolic, but it is a symbolism I quite enjoy.

A lot of the royal duties such as opening buildings, visiting charities, fronting organisations have to be done by someone. I like that in Britain these roles are often undertaken by an unelected member of the royal family.

This defuses any possible chance of every single event being politicised, as it would be if MPs or elected mayors, or a President did all of them. The Queen floats above the politics. This is healthy for Britain.

Unique Selling Point

The world is now smaller; countries are becoming more similar in many ways. The monarchy is a defiant statement of Britishness and difference that I rather like.

I am not surprised that one of the main reasons Canada wants to keep the monarchy is because it makes them unlike the USA. Brilliant. The more ways in which one Starbucks-dominated corporate state can be distinguished from its neighbour the better.

For Britain, the monarchy represents part of that history, identity and culture which all the tourists find so fascinating. I fancy that some of those tourists are jealous that their own countries do not possess anything similar.

Putting the U in the UK

In terms of identity, I believe that the monarchy plays a valuable role in uniting the United Kingdom, which is becoming increasingly disunited. The monarchy is not English, it is British.

It can be a shared experience for people all around the country, as well as to Britain’s constituent immigrant communities, who are statistically more likely than the indigenous population to define their identity as ‘British’ as opposed to ‘English’ or ‘Welsh’ for example.

In sum

Monarchies last because of three reasons; they oppress; they are needed; they are popular. The British monarchy is indisputably the latter two reasons.

It has evolved from an autocracy to a symbol with barely a ripple of discontent and as long as it doesn’t do anything spectacularly stupid, like try to claim power back from Parliament, there is no reason why it cannot survive and thrive.

Perhaps the monarchy represents the best of that very British concept, the muddled compromise.

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It is strange that the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ holds strongly to hereditary monarchs. It is bizarre that a nation so used to mercilessly mocking authority with impunity should not have got rid of the ultimate earthly authority there is.

None of this should work; surely the monarchy cannot flourish; surely it can’t be a symbol of all that’s great about Britain. But it does and is. Wonderful.

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