A Crowned Republic:
a new constitutional arrangement for Britain

A section for discussion of a hypothetical new constitutional system for Britain that replaces the Monarchy with a Republic while retaining the Crown.

© August 2017 Tom Rogers

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Why the Monarchy has to go

The theoretical argument for monarchy is that the monarch is the last line of defence against executive tyranny. But in Britain that argument does not hold when we look at reality. We do have practical tyranny in this country: accession to the EEC, continued membership of the EU, and the signing of integrationist treaties at Luxembourg, Maastricht and Lisbon; mass immigration and multi-culturalism; fake privatisations and asset-stripping of public resources; hate speech laws and other infringements on civil liberties, and so on, are all implementations of tyranny. Where was the Queen when her Lords Commissioners were granting Royal Assent for the necessary legislation to implement these measures and policies?

The evidence is in. The British Monarchy has been stress-tested and has failed miserably: the record shows that the Monarchy has ceased to effectively fulfil its reserve function and now needs to be reformed or replaced. Worse, the Monarchy has become one of the pillars of the Enemy Establishment: the present Monarch, Elizabeth II, even approves of multi-culturalism and the general liberal dispensation in this country.

Returning to Saxon England: a British Crowned Republic

The phrase 'crowned republic' is not new - it is typically used to describe the modernist constitutional arrangements of Britain, whereby the prerogatives and formal powers of the Monarch are defined, limited and circumscribed by law and custom, in consequence of which the Monarch is largely ceremonial only. However, the constitutional system I wish to outline here is new, so far as I am aware. It would involve the abolition of the British Monarchy and its replacement with a British Republic, but with the retention of the Crown. This would allow for a modest, evolutionary modernisation of Britain's system of government, while retaining the essential customs and traditions but in a way that harks back to the elected monarchs of Saxon England.

Crown, Monarch and State

The Crown is distinguishable from the Monarchy. The two are not the same thing and are in fact entirely separate institutions: though there is considerable overlap. In some contexts, where the Crown is a corporation sole, the two operate as one and the same; in other contexts, the Crown operates as a corporation aggregate. The Queen embodies the Crown, but the Crown itself is the legal authority in the country and the root of sovereignty. Some scholars say that the Crown is the state and the two are synonymous, the Queen therefore also being the embodiment of the state. I am not sure I would accept this, as it seems to me what while there is overlap, in many respects the Crown is quite separate from the state. In a British context, the state is the legislative, executive and judicial mechanism of authority, but the Crown is the source of authority. The distinction is subtle and hard to explain, but the important and practical point is that the Crown and the Monarch are separable: Kings and Queens come and go, while the Crown is permanent.

Why do we need a Crowned Republic?

The notion of the Crown continuing to exist without a Monarch or the Monarchy may sound odd: I am proposing a Crown without a Monarch, which appears to be a contradiction in terms, but the new system would not be without a placeholder. As I see it, the offensive concept here is monarchy, because of its inherent weakness, and the remedy is to have the Crown supported by politically stronger institutions. The Crown is just a metaphor for sovereignty and popular consent: the actual placeholder could be a president elected by the people or selected by a legislative body or something similar. The force of my argument rests on an acceptance that these are in effect the arrangements we already have: the Crown has become a cipher for the Commons and the executive; in some respects, the Prime Minister in effect acts as a president. Once this is grasped, the innovation might not seem so eccentric, and can be viewed as an improvement on the existing haphazard system in ensuring that, even when a Prime Minister can command a substantial majority in the Commons, there is an effective reserve check on executive power.

The success of the actually-existing British crowned republic provides the historical and practical foundation for this new system: what I propose is just a further evolution of these existing arrangements to address a flaw that has emerged in recent times. The Queen is a placeholder, her rôle is simply to occupy the throne in order to stop other politicians taking that place. The strength of this system is that it is said to prevent tyranny, but I believe flaws in the system have allowed tyranny to emerge anyway. If we imagine Britain's constitutional arrangements as a chess board, the Queen would be the 'King' piece on the board. She occupies her place on the board to prevent others from doing so, and since she can only move one square at a time, her rôle seems to be limited to that of placeholder. However, she is extremely influential in the chess game in other ways, in that her very presence on the board is of fundamental importance to the game and her positioning has ramifications for other players. Each move she makes is of wider significance to the game, but she cannot attack other players directly. This means she is not an effective check on the more powerful players and ultimately she is defenceless against would-be tyrants. The Queen could, in theory, exercise power by, for instance, refusing to give Royal Assent to legislation, and no doubt she also has considerable unseen informal influence, but the weakness of the Monarchy means that she is an insufficient check on unscrupulous politicians.

In short, the Monarchy is outdated. It does not take account of modern political reality. However, rather than abolish the Crown altogether, I propose reforming it slightly in such a way that the strengths of the British Monarchy are preserved, particularly the separation of legal and political sovereignty from the executive, while at the same time the placeholder can act much like a Monarch but with republican authority, allowing for an effective check on abuses of power.

How a Crowned Republic would work: a brief outline

Briefly, what I would propose is that the Monarch is replaced by a President, selected by the House of Lords. The House of Lords would be restored as an all-hereditary chamber, made up of white male members of the British aristocracy aged 35 and over. The Lords would sit as a reviewing chamber, would not be able to initiate legislation, but would be able to block, veto and amend any draft legislation from the Commons. No party allegiances would be permitted. Lords with Jewish ancestry and other non-whites would be excluded. The Lords would select a President from among their number to serve a 24-month term of office. The President would not be permitted to sit in the House of Lords during his presidency, and each President would be limited to serving one such term every 10 years. The President would exercise all Crown prerogatives on the advice of the Prime Minister. All other constitutional arrangements would remain unchanged. The President would require a staff, just as the present Monarch does, but he would be essentially a placeholder - a reserve check on possible executive abuses - and in normal circumstances would not be expected to exercise Crown prerogatives pro-actively or overrule the Prime Minister, government or Houses of Parliament.

Oaths of allegiance

Oaths of allegiance - including oaths taken by parliamentarians at the commencement of each new parliament - would be sworn to 'the Crown'.

Country name, flag and national anthem

The country would be renamed the Commonwealth of Britain (short form: 'Britain'). I would propose retaining the Union Flag. The official national anthem would be "Rule, Britannia!".

Other ceremonial aspects

Many of the ceremonial aspects of the British Monarchy would continue with the British Republic. The Americans sing 'Hail to the Chief' for their head of state, and we would still sing 'Vivat!' for ours. A new President would be crowned at a scaled-down coronation ceremony. Deference would be expected towards the placeholder and his family. He would reside at Buckingham Palace during his term of office. And so on.

No Royal Family

There would not be a Royal Family, as this would not be a royal system. The President's family would be treated in much the same way as the family of any high-profile person within the political system.

The hereditary system

Hereditary lords would be required to pass on their properties, titles and membership of the House of Lords under patrimony and male-preference primogeniture. The government would be able to appoint new hereditary lords, by awarding baronetcies to men for worthy acts or achievements, so that ordinary people would be able to enter the aristocracy. However the Lords is meant to act in the national interest only, and therefore members and former members of the House of Commons should be barred from hereditary titles for life, and members and employees of and donors to political parties, and individuals who have held membership of the Commons or a political party or been employed by or donated to one within the previous ten years, should be barred from hereditary titles.

Restoration of the Super Man: a white male aristocracy

I see a Crowned Republic as the starting point in a process of evolution towards a modern system of government that looks to the future, but that is rooted firmly in our country's history and traditions. I consider the aristocracy not as a self-interested class, but as the trustees of the country, standing above grubby and profane financial and political considerations. They should embody our best genetic material and act as exemplars of high culture, manners and behaviour.

But I am not some sort of naive deferential conservative. Far from it, my instincts are those of a distributist and leveller. The aristocracy should be open to all men of ability. I favour levelling-up men, not appealing to the lowest common denominator, but I don't believe there is anything wrong with a society based on acknowledging superiority and having a hierarchy of ability. I want to celebrate the best and ablest, not the weak and stupid. At the same time, the existence of rulers involves a social compact that must be observed and honoured, and this should include an understanding that the land and other resources of the country are held in trust for its people and are to be used to promote opportunities for ordinary people to enjoy an independent economic existence. We need to move away from the soft slavery of the current capitalist system. I would personally favour a requirement that all the properties of the aristocracy (other than immediate residences) are to be formally held in trust for the country. I would also favour radical land reform allowing ordinary people to start re-settling the land that was taken from the working class under the Inclosure Acts, so that they can begin operating smallholdings and farms again. But all this would be for the future.

Possible transition back to Monarchy

A Crowned Republic would be a hybrid system. Depending on the prevailing attitude in the country and among the elite, it could be possible to pivot between monarchical and republican systems. For instance, it may be that an outstanding man is found among the aristocracy and pressure grows to allow him and his family to serve in effect as a monarchy. Again, those questions would be for the future.