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A right royal controversy

It seems my item on Wednesday Lessons for Blair from France, pointing out the advantages of constitutional monarchy as a healthy focus for patriotic sentiment compared to the likely alternatives triggered a few harrumphs from some Samizdata readers. I cannot answer every point but here are a few:

I was trying to figure out how monarchy on the British model might prove useful in some societies roiled by internal strife, such as France. My article was most certainly NOT a starry-eyed defence of monarchy as such. As a minimal statist libertarian who has flirted with the anarcho-capitalist stance, I certainly think our Royal Family should be privatised, its tax-funding status ended and the Civil List significantly curtailed. I also realise the Royal family’s role in standing atop the English class system which, while not as oppressive in the past, has its faults. I am also well aware that the U.S. is the great example of how a republic can hold the allegiance of its citizens and has worked supremely well, give or take the odd hiccup such as the 2000 Florida vote re-count controversy (“George Bush is dead, long live George W. Bush!”) and some unpleasantness during the 1860s.

More broadly, I would say this: until the day comes and we can all live in a libertarian utopia with zero income tax and tiny government, or no government at all, we are likely to have states. Those states will be headed by someone or something. It really unlikely that an elected president, who is bound to be a partisan political figure, could be an improvement. After all, Royalty is a lottery for its members. They don’t ask for the job and are obliged to repay their fortune with a life of duty. (That is why royals get such stick if they are seen to misbehave, like some of the younger present members).

Of course, one day we may be able to dispense with the whole affair and move on. But as a libertarian activist, getting rid of royalty is not exactly top of my priorities. I’d rather focus on cutting the government down to size. If I could pay just 10 percent income tax with the Queen remaining in Buckingham Palace, I’d settle for that rather than a social democratic republic where I’d pay 50 percent.

Anyway, that is my ha’ pennyworth on the subject. For a good, thorough defence of British style monarchy, check out British journalist, blogger and aspiring Shakespearean actor Andrew Sullivan. Worth a read.

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