Recent events force right-of-centre Australia to mull removing the British royal family from our Constitution. Two types support a Crown at the apex of our political structure. The first are royalists who have a mystical reverence for the monarchy. Then there are the constitutional monarchists. We support the Crown for functional purposes.
The creed of the constitutional monarchist is this: ‘the significance of the Crown is not the power it possesses but the power it denies others’. We support an apolitical Crown because it has proven to be the best antidote to mankind’s great scourge – dictatorship. With few exceptions, the most peaceful nations are constitutional monarchies.
Every constitution must place one individual atop the political apex. In a republic it’s a president and with no authority above them their egos too often get out of control and morph into a dictatorship. That doesn’t happen in constitutional monarchies. The office with the most power is the Prime Minister but they are merely a Minister of the Crown who is considered ‘prime’ – above them is an apolitical monarch with the power to dismiss the PM. That reserve power is exercised rarely and when it is (Britain 1911, New South Wales 1932, Australia 1975) it results in a general election. The fact the monarch gets the job by something as meritless as birth is the beauty of constitutional monarchy – it means there’s zero political manoeuvring involved. It’s an odd arrangement backed by centuries of success. Central to the compact is the monarch’s unspoken pledge to a lifetime of political neutrality.
I don’t begrudge the current custodian of the Crown (plus the next two in line) for being foolish enough to fall for the global warming orthodoxy (the idle rich are vulnerable to this malady). I am alarmed however when they are apparently so ignorant of their side of the constitutional bargain that they take a publicly partisan position which is an attack on Australia’s national interest.
Australia is the world’s third largest exporter of fossil fuels. Many view this with pride since those products have given billions better lives. Others say fossil fuels are responsible for the imminent destruction of civilisation. That scientific debate can only be resolved in the political sphere and in recent federal elections the Australian people have voted against Team Apocalypse.
It was right-of-centre Australia which successfully defended our constitutional monarchy in 1999. My fear is our constitutionally ignorant future King Charles III will not be able to restrain his political impulses.
We therefore need to weigh the advice of another constitutional monarchist who was pushed too far. Thomas Jefferson in 1776 noted, ‘whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends (i.e. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government’.
Never before has the Crown deployed in such a political manner against Australia. Why now? Virginia Giuffre appears to have Prince Andrew in checkmate. Hard to know where those allegations end up but it’s extremely embarrassing for the royal family. With that crisis as the backdrop, have the royals calculated if they publicly go into bat for the Left’s most sacred cause (global warming) then the Left will cut them some slack regarding Prince Andrew? Is Australia being thrown under the bus because Prince Andrew was dumb enough to be buddies with Jeffrey Epstein?
Let’s say the global warming orthodoxy is correct and the world is heading for the apocalypse unless Australia ceases exporting coal. Let’s also say Prince Charles can see this but the Australian voters do not and therefore the world is in peril. If that is the case, Charles should renounce his royal claim and become a political activist. Citizen Charles could tour Australia and agitate for policy reform – the fact he had renounced the throne because he cared so much about the cause would amplify his message. Of course, Charles would never think of renouncing the throne which brings into question how much he really believes the orthodoxy and how much of this is posturing.
Australia has three options.
Princess Mary of Denmark is a Tasmanian who renounced her Australian citizenship when she married the Crown Prince of the ancient Danish monarchy. Mary’s eldest will one day be the King of Denmark but there’s three in reserve. In a decade or two we could invite one of Mary’s children to become a low-key Scandinavian-style Australian monarch who resides at Yarralumla and performs the ceremonial duties carried out by the Governor-General. This option barely changes a word in our constitution plus we retain all the benefits of constitutional monarchy and are spared ignoramuses bemoaning a ‘foreign monarchy’.
The second is for the Right to intellectually engage in the republican debate. It all boils down to how we select the president. It’s laughable to think after Covid Aussie’s will want to give politicians even more power so the only viable option is a US-style popularly elected president. That fundamentally re-engineers the whole constitution so if we’ve got the stomach for that we’d have to revamp the lot. We’d need a Cabinet chosen from outside of Parliament, a 500-member House of Representatives with a strict two-term limit and then a Senate with an age requirement of 60-plus (the Latin word ‘senate’ means grey haired). We’d also enshrine a pro-freedom bill of rights, recall elections and citizen-initiated vetoes.
Option three is the least messy. Australia and the British royal family put this episode behind us on the proviso we avoid a repeat transgression. Jefferson’s declaration did counsel, ‘Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes’. The attack on Australia’s economic wellbeing is not transient but it is pleasantly unprecedented.
At some point however Charles will be king and he has foolishly been a political campaigner for various causes since the 1980s. The royal family and Prince Charles in particular are on notice. Further forays into Australian politics will collapse the base that previously defended the constitutional monarchy. If it gets to that point and assuming we can’t generate popular enthusiasm for the Danish option, right-of-centre thinkers will join the Australian Republican Movement and campaign in favour of an optimal republic which would be preferable to a politicised monarchy.
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John Ruddick was the National Convenor of Young Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and is the Liberal Democrats NSW Senate candidate for 2022
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