Sunday, December 13, 2009

QE2 Taps Prince William as Successor

Reports are leaking out in the British press that Queen Elizabeth, who is 83 years old has scaled down her grueling schedule. Prince William, who is her grandson through Prince Charles has been formally assigned some of her ceremonial duties. The Daily Mail reports as follows.

"The Queen is to hand over a substantial part of her public duties to Prince William to help him prepare for the day when he becomes King, according to a confidential document obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

Secret papers reveal that plans to ease the strain on the 83-year-old monarch and her 88-year-old husband, Prince Philip, are at an advanced stage.

The disclosures come despite months of denials from the Palace that the Queen was planning to step back from her official work in favour of her 27-year-old grandson. "

The document that was made public had portions blacked out, but reporters were able to get "unredacted" versions for critical review. The Telegraph also reported that Prince Charles will be getting hefty tax breaks from the British government. With his entire budget covered by British taxpayers, it is hard to imagine that he needs relief any more than the average Englishman. The Telegraph quotes as follows press release from "Republic", a British organisation that wants to do away with the British monarchy.

‘We have been misled,’ the spokesman said. ‘This shows that planning is well under way to prepare for the next succession.

'Here we have proof that the Palace is preparing William to take over the Queen’s duties.

‘The Palace operates in secrecy, doing deals behind the back of the British people to ensure a smooth transition to the next King.

‘In addition, we discover that at a time of recession, Charles is secretly lobbying for an exclusive tax break worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

'The fact the Treasury attempted to cover up this lobbying shows they knew it would be scandalous if made public.’

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There had been speculation for years that Prince Charles was far too compromised by his colourful personal life to command the respect that would befit a future king. His affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, who is now his wife, did nothing to endear the two of them to the British public. It had seemed that his marriage to Princess Diana was going to be a fairy tale success. Instead it did a spectacularly self destruct that would have played well on the Jerry Springer show. Princess Diana's nickname "the Rottweiler" for Camilla Parker Bowles gained a lot of popularity. In the restaurant of marital bliss, it appeared that Prince Charles had traded his filet mignon for hamburger helper.

Prince William, by contrast has a clean slate. He served honourably in Afghanistan, and has a personal life that is ordered and sensible, with a girlfriend (Kate Middleton) who the British public hopes will soon be engaged to Prince William.

It is very tempting as an American to scoff at the whole idea of royalty. My grandfather, who fought for Franz Joszef in World War I was opposed to monarchy and favoured a Republic. My other grandfather kept a picture of Franz Joszef in his living room along with a picture of FDR.

I have seen Croats, Serbs and Bosnians butcher each other in recent times. It is hard not to wonder if they would not all have been happier as subjects of one emperor of king, united as royal subjects rather than feuding zealous guardians of a national state. In a republic, it is possible for an ethnic minority to achieve majority status in an area. A constant concern in the Balkans is that people in an area will vote along ethnic lines to join a neighbouring country. Making loyalty to a reigning monarchy the defining characteristic of a nation is a graceful way of sidestepping this. In a world where many minorities clamour for statehood and in which bloody wars have been fought for regional hegemony, this is no small concern. I am not saying that monarchy is the only road to peace, but it is far from dead as a viable concept.

The prevailing wisdom has for years been the idea that a monarch should be a mere figurehead. In fact, the reigning monarch has limited powers in Britain and in British Commonwealth nations. In 1975, the Governor General, appointed not by the Australian people but by the Queen, dissolved the Australian government and called for new elections.

A more recent example is King Juan Carlos, who was hand picked and trained by Francisco Franco to rule Spain as King. In a surprising turn of events, King Juan Carlos supervised a Spanish return to democracy, which involved arranging a modus vivendi with Spain's Basque and Catalonian regions which has resulted in a peaceful resurgence of Basque and Catalonian culture.

I hope that the British monarchy can regain some of the respect and function that it had in past eras. Britain continues to influence large parts of the world that were once its empire. I wish Prince William success in the discharge of his duties. And I wish Queen Elizabeth health and length of years.

The picture with this article is of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1854.

The video is of Princess Elizabeth (Now QueenElizabeth) at the age of 14 giving an address to British children during World War II


radical royalist said...

What a good institution the Monarchy is can be seen, when one keeps in mind, that a Monarch is not allowed to chose his or her own successor. It is the law of succession that decides on this issue. Her Majesty may hand over more responsibilities to HRH Prince William, but she cannot appoint him as her successor. That may happen in political parties and in governments, but not in a Constitutional Monarchy.

It is also not correct to claim that HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales would get "his entire budget covered by British taxpayers. It is a well know fact that the Prince of Wales receives nothing from the British taxpayer (except expenditures for security measures and travels he undertakes abroad if the Foreign Office asked him to do so). All the private and the large majority of the official and charitable activities of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are funded by The Prince’s annual private income from The Duchy of Cornwall estate.

The Prince of Wales chooses to use the majority of his after-tax income from the Duchy to meet the cost of his public and charitable work. In addition, each year he helps raise, directly or indirectly, around £130 million for his core 20 charities.

The Prince pays tax on his Duchy income, after the normal deductions for business expenses, at the 40 per cent rate. Like any other tax-payer, his tax return is subject to review by the Inland Revenue. In 2008-09, The Prince’s income from the Duchy was £16.5 million. The Prince of Wales chooses to spend well over half of his after-tax income from the Duchy of Cornwall on official duties and charitable activities. Click here to find out more about official expenditure.

Magdeburger Joe said...

You bring up important legal distinctions. Your profile also lists blogs that you maintain that contain a wealth of information. Whether or not one supports the monarchy, it is clear that their public service to the people of the UK is critical to their continued prosperity and that they have special considerations extended to them as royals that would not be the same for commoners. I have no problems with that. Their privileged existence comes at great price and perhaps with harder work than would be demanded of them under a republican system. Your sites will be a springboard for educating myself in this area. I am not a fawning devotee of royalty, but I do respect the institution. The video clip and illustrations I chose for this posting hearkened back to some of the glory days of British royalty

estate said...

very nice paintings.