The BBC reports that British PM David Cameron wants to change the law regarding royal succession:
The PM wants to scrap the ban on spouses of Roman Catholics ascending to the throne and give girls the same right of succession as boys.
But he needs the 15 other Commonwealth nations to agree to the changes.
They would apply to any children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — even if they were born before a law change.
At present, the Act of Settlement gives male children the right to leapfrog their older sisters in the order of succession to the throne.’
The argument in favor is, in Cameron’s words, “We espouse gender equality in all other aspects of life and it is an anomaly that in the rules relating to the highest public office we continue to enshrine male superiority.”
It is manifestly absurd to apply to the monarchy any argument based on the principle of equality. The monarchy is an institution founded on the principle of inequality. It asserts that one single British family is better and more worthy of privilege than any citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia. That is why Charles Windsor will be head of state of Australia and I will never be: because the monarchical system of government claims that he is a better class of citizen.
Cameron’s proposed change will not improve the equality of one single woman anywhere in the world. It applies only to theoretical women who do not yet exist. It will never apply to an Australian woman. It applies only to women birthed into one select family, women who are, de jure, the most privileged people across sixteen countries. Of the more than 11 million women in Australia, not one will gain a single right from this change.
The change cannot proceed unless the Australian Parliament votes to approve it. Parliament should reject any change to the line of succession that does not involve ending it.
Note: It’s not actually up to me to tell feminists what a feminist issue is.
Beyond that, I find the pseudo-monarchial trappings of the speech increasingly repellent. We’re in the midst of an election campaign to decide whether Barack Obama gets to keep his office another four years and yet, for 90 minutes or so, we’re supposed to pretend that he’s our king. The entirety of both Houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs, and the Cabinet–minus, of course, some token unelected apparatchik kept in a safe location somewhere to reconstitute the government in the event a Japanese airliner rams the Capitol — is supposed to clap like trained monkeys while the Campaigner in Chief delivers a partisan stump speech thinly disguised as a plea for national unity.
James Joyner, “State Of The Union Address Obsolete,” Outside the Beltway, January 24, 2012
Yeah, I really hate this.
I live under a monarchy, and you know what Obama didn’t look like yesterday? A king. He looked like someone who has been elected and who, in nine months time, has to ask the people to re-elect him if he wants to stay in office. He looked like someone who was accountable to his citizenry, which is precisely what royals are not.
The Queen ‘rededicated’ herself to the service of her country for the rest of her life, in a personal address to Parliament.
“I have been privileged to witness some of that history and, with the support of my family, rededicate myself to the service of our great country and its people now and in the years to come.” Her words were widely interpreted as a signal of the 85 year-old’s determination to remain on the throne for the rest of her life.
The people of modern Australia are drawn from virtually every country in the world. It is no reflection on the loyalty of great many of them to say that the British monarchy is a remote and inadequate symbol of their affections for Australia. And we can be equally sure that in the 21st century the British monarchy will become even more remote from even more Australians.
Australia occupies a unique place in the world and makes a unique contribution to it. Our destiny is in no-one else’s hands but our own: we alone bear the responsibility for deciding what the nature of our government and society will be, what advantage we will take of our human and material resources, what kind of place our children will inherit.
It is not a radical undertaking that we propose.
In proposing that our Head of State should be an Australian we are proposing nothing more than the obvious. Our Head of State should embody and represent Australia’s values and traditions, Australia’s experience and aspirations. We need not apologise for the nationalism in these sentiments, but in truth they contain as much commonsense as patriotism.
Each and every Australian should be able to aspire to be our Head of State. Every Australian should know that the office will always be filled by a citizen of high standing who has made an outstanding contribution to Australia and who, in making it, has enlarged our view of what it is to be Australian.
In these and other ways, the creation of an Australian republic can actually deliver a heightened sense of unity, it can enliven our national spirit and, in our own minds and those of our neighbours, answer beyond doubt the perennial question of Australian identity — the question of who we are and what we stand for. The answer is not what having a foreign Head of State suggests. We are not a political or cultural appendage to another country’s past. We are simply and unambiguously Australian.
If only by a small degree an Australian republic fulfilled these ideals it would be worth it.
Constantly I am amazed at how “the British way” retains its permeating influence in so many areas of Australian national life.
As the Queen prepares to celebrate her diamond jubilee, it is worth remembering that much of this country marks her birthday every year with a public holiday, a courtesy not even observed in my homeland. There are still some 160,000 Britons who can cast a vote in Australian federal elections, a fancy franchise shared with other residents from the Commonwealth but with no other non-citizens. British colours still adorn the Australian flag (“Britain at night,” scoffs Jerry Seinfeld) while Australia Day celebrates the moment of British colonisation. The Queen’s profile continues to decorate the coinage, while her title is affixed to the hulls of Australian warships. When Dublin looked to dispose of its statue of Queen Victoria, Sydney gladly offered it a home.
The point is amply made. The death of British Australia has been surprisingly slow.
Nick Bryant, “The slow death of British Australia,” The Interpreter, June 1, 2012
This is important, because the death of British Australia has always meant the birth of Australian Australia. This is a demise which we must, for the sake of our own dignity and self-realization, cheer on.