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IN OCTOBER 1991, in an article describing the lack of democracy within the present Anglo-British State, I wrote of the monarchy and the royal family, "The very existence of this institution is a constant reminder of our subject status. The sight of the numerous offspring of this family jetting about at our expense is at last starting to annoy many people. The uncritical acceptance of this anachronism is beginning to breakdown. All the powers and prerogatives of the monarchy must be transferred to the people." [Third Way #9].
At the time this caused quite a bit of controversy which wasn't helped by a bit of Sunday World shit-stirring. Some readers told me that they thought I was overstating my case. The monarchy was held in such great esteem by the general public that the Third Way movement ought to at least pay lip-service to it. This has certainly been the attitude of the majority of members of the British Labour Party who feared losing votes if they criticised this institution. Even some supporters of Ulster independence criticised my attitude as placating Provo supporters. Their dearest wish is to install Queen Elizabeth as monarch of Ulster.
In recent years the antics of the royal family have begun to resemble an American soap opera. After the events of the queen's Annus Horribilus I naturally feel vindicated. Of course, I take no pleasure in the break-ups in the marriages of two of the queen's sons and the divorce and remarriage of her daughter. Queen Elizabeth's husband's sexual dalliances have, so far, been swept under the carpet despite Conservative and unionist MPs' complaints about unfair and intrusive press coverage and the hounding of the royal family.
In fact, factions within the family were busy leaking juicy titbits of information to their favourite papers to promote their own personal advantage. Sarah Ferguson was initially good at this but she did herself no good when she was indiscreet enough to be photographed topless in the company of her `financial advisor'. The 'Princess of Wales' allowed her side of the quarrel with her husband to be set out in a bestselling book. Ordinary folk were fascinated for a while, but realisation eventually dawned that they - the taxpayers - were paying for this vastly expensive pantomime! The queen never paid any taxes yet her personal wealth is undreamed of by most of her subjects.
Public indignation overflowed after the fire in Windsor Castle when the Heritage Secretary, Peter Brooke, announced that the government would foot the bill for all repairs - at taxpayers' expense. Shortly afterwards, the queen announced that she would graciously condescend to pay taxes and would seek an agreement with the Inland Revenue on the amount to be paid. Just like one of us!
Reverence for the monarchy is in dramatic decline over the past decade. This is something which has yet to dawn on the unreconstructed empire loyalists of the Orange Institution who still regret the end of the empire and the `scuttle' from India and Africa. A recent article in the Orange Standard claimed that a constitutional monarchy was the only guarantor of political stability. This is not true. The. people are stuck with the results of the hereditary principle - be it good or bad. For every William III there is a George III and God only knows what a Charles III could turn out like. The hereditary principle is capricious and not very stable at all.
Popular participative democracy and monarchy are incompatible. If the people rule they cannot be the queen's subjects. If the queen exercises sovereignty the people cannot rule. The peoples of the British nations cannot become masters in their own houses until the queen and her family are pensioned off! That day may be sooner than we think.
A THIRD WAY FOR ULSTER
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