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  • Question about Royal Family

    Whats up everyone,
    I have a question that may sound kind of dumb but have wondered about it for awhile now. Could some tell me what job within the government that Britain's Royal Family does? Like the Princes what do they do? Or is this some kind of like, don't know how to say it, media obsession type thing? Like Harry ( I think thats his name) I know he is in the Military but does he have a task he performs as a prince? (And how did he get that title anyways?) Or is he just another guy people follow around and take pictures of?
    Hope I got across what I meant,
    Jordan

  • #2
    Queen Elizabeth is the titular head of state. She has no actual power nor does any of her family.The children and grand children of a monarch get the title prince or princess after that they have no title though usually princes are given dukedoms so that a title will carry down the line.

    Comment


    • #3
      Titular head of state, sorry but what does that mean? If she has no power and nobody in her family does then whats the point?
      Thanks for your response
      Jordan

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd quibble a little and say that it is not true to say that the monarch in the UK has NO power today - if one widens the word power to include influence or to play a significant and unique role in events/affairs. To give some examples:

        * only the sovereign can dissolve Parliament (unless or until fixed term Parliaments are introduced) - although this would usually be on the advice to the Prime Minister of the day

        * only the sovereign can invite a political leader to form an administration - to become "Prime Minister"

        * many Government regulations are brought into force under the "royal prerogative" done through meetings of the Privy Council attended by the monarch

        Now all these do not allow the Queen to direct affairs or dictate policy - so while I'd agree that they are not "powers" in that sense, but the monarch does play a daily and active role in Government and thus has influence.

        In addition the Queen receives daily reports from Parliament on what has happened (written by a junior Government minister); receives many Foreign Office telegrams; and is consulted on many initiatives - for instance is is briefed on the annual budget the day before it is introduced. She sees the Prime Minister once a week and this has been seen by many former PMs as a unique opportunity to unburden themselves to someone who has absolutely no political ambition and whos confidence has never been broken.

        In Victorian times, the political commentator Walter Bagehot defined the monarch has having three roles (even rights) viz a viz the Government of the day - to advise, to encourage and to warn. These are still held to apply today. They grow stronger and carry more weight with a long-serving monarch like Elizabeth II who can recall precedents, advice from former political figures etc which may be unknown to anyone else. She had met almost every significant foreign leader since World War II and is separately Head of the Commonwealth. She can thus draw, in that role and as Queen of some 15 other nations on advice from sources other than the UK Government and pass that on.

        Turning to duties, the Queen holds investitures several times a year (handing old medals and orders/decorations); she hosts incoming state visits by foreign leaders, garden parties and takes the saulte at some major military parades. She tours extensively in the country and represents britain abroad and meets thousands of individuals. Its a busy job. The "red boxes" that arrive daily with papers for her to sign (from military commissions to Acts of parliament - her signatuire makes them law) take up hours of the Queen's day.

        There is no similar set role for royal princes. The tradition, since Victorian times is for a Prince in direct line to have a military career (for George V and VI in the Royal Navy - indeed, George VI as Pince Albert fought at Jutland in 1916). Prince Charles also served in the RN. (The Queen, as a princess, put on uniform in the war in one of the woman's auxiliary services and repaired vehicle engines.)

        William and Harry have both chosen to join the Army, although William is training as an RAF air-sea rescue pilot.

        From the time they are about 20 royal princes and princesses are usually introduced to public life - by becoming patrons of organisations and charities, taking honorary command of regiments and Service units etc. Prince Charles has taken a role in commenting on non-political areas of life such as the environment, architecture and alternative medicine, sometimes controversially, but using his position to raise the concerns of others to a prominence they might not otherwise receive.

        On occasion, royal princes and princesses will represent HM The Queen at events, such as funerals, openings and celebrations. they also have a role in royal ceremonial - the Garter day procession at Windsor in June etc).

        Hope this gives a taste of what they do, come back with questions by all means.

        Phil

        Edited to answer this question:

        Titular head of state, sorry but what does that mean? If she has no power and nobody in her family does then whats the point?

        Britain has a long history (back to 1603 for the union of the crowns of Scotland and England) and the individual nations even longer histories. The first king of England (Edgar) was crowned in 971 - so it goes back over a millenium.

        In that time the role and powers of the monarch have changed as the countries became constitutional monarchies, Parliament evolved, we fought a civil war to establish the balance, and even tried a republic for a decade or so.

        When the American colonies gained their independence in the 1780s they established a governmental system that gave the president most of the powers that George III had had, but balanced them with judicial and legislative safeguards (Congress and Supreme Court). But Obama is still a ceremonial head of state as well as a political leader.

        In Britain having an hereditary monarch is a safeguard against anyone else assuming supreme power (as Hitler did in Germany in 1934 on the death of Hindenburg). If George VI had been captured or killed in the Second World War he had heirs so there would be no break in legitimate Government - and no usurping authority could legitimately be set up.

        Also in the war the "titular" monarch and his consort (titular is not a term I'd chose to use) gained huge respect and assisted moral on the Home Front in a way few politicians (Churchill apart) could have done.

        Finally, the monarchy links the present to our long and (I'd say glorious) past, our history, the development of our institutions and our style of evolving rather than revolting.

        I'd say the monarchy had great purpose, and in Elizabeth II an exceptional incumbent.
        Last edited by Phil H; 07-18-2010, 09:03 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          On one or two occasions the monarchy has been absolutely crucial. For instance, in 1832 there was a constitutional impasse over franchise reform, with the House of Lords refusing to give way before the House of Commons. Many feared that revolution was on the cards, but this was circumvented by appeal to a higher power - King William IV was induced to threaten the Tory peers in the Lords with the creation of enough Whig peers to swamp the anti-reform vote. Rather than be swamped, the Tory peers gave way.

          I suppose if sentiment were to suddenly turn republican, one could theoretically have the same impasse - only this time it would be between the House of Commons and the monarchy, with the Queen refusing assent to a bill which was aimed at abolishing the monarchy. Doubtless "patriotic" Labour and Conservative politicians would then appeal to another higher power, one which they've worshipped for decades.

          Step forward the European Union.

          Comment


          • #6
            Robert

            A very good example, if I might say so. A similar, and more recent one, dates from 1910-11 when the then Liberal government under Asquith wanted to introduce reforms (the so-called People's Budget) which were strongly opposed by the Lords. Edward VII and after his death george V were pressured to create sufficient Liberal peers to swamp the inbuilt Conservative majority in the Upper House. It led to the Parliament Act which permanently gave the Commons the supremacy.

            I think that the British monarchy is only really under threat if there is a clear dewsire for a particular alternative, on which there is no present concensus. But I do feel that our national life would be a great deal less colourful, and our bridges to the past be less alive without the royal presence.

            That said, there are now many in this country who have no knowledge of, or cultural link to the Crown, and see their allegience as not even to Britain, so such attitudes might sway things in due course.

            On a cheery note, and elected presidency in Britain (say from 1945) replacing the Crown as constitutional head of state (I'm assuming a PM would still have been head of government) might well have given us such unifying and widely beloved/uncontroversial figures as Churchill, Enoch Powell, Thatcher or even Blair(?). Something to think about!!

            Comment


            • #7
              and our style of evolving rather than revolting.
              ...although the style of some of us is not very evolved, and really quite revolting.
              http://youtu.be/GcBr3rosvNQ

              Comment


              • #8
                Ruby

                You prefer bloody revolutions, the death of thousands, guillotines and genocide perhaps, a la the French and Russian revolutions as a way of effecting constitutional change?

                Britain, I am proud to say, remains the creator of the modern Parliamentary model and has managed to change quite a lot over the last 50 years without too much social unrest.

                But perhaps I have mis-read your cryptic post? tell me if I have?

                What do you see as "not very evolved, and really quite revolting" in particular?

                Phil

                Comment


                • #9
                  But perhaps I have mis-read your cryptic post? tell me if I have?

                  What do you see as "not very evolved, and really quite revolting" in particular?
                  It was a very pathetic attempt at humour, Phil...
                  http://youtu.be/GcBr3rosvNQ

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    PS : I have to say that living in France, I am subjected to endless ribbing about the Royal Family..French knowledge mainly being confined to "Lady" Di.

                    I have been offered mugs as presents * she said darkly

                    (I would really like to have one of those 'William & Kate' engagement plates if they never marry, though. The more Kitsch the better).
                    http://youtu.be/GcBr3rosvNQ

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Phil

                      There's another example of royal intervention, namely 1940. If the Tories had had their way, Churchill would not have been made Prime Minister, and we would have been either unborn, dead, or living somewhere in Canada.

                      Although some of the arguments in favour of the monarchy will have to be revised (the Queen hasn't protected us from the European Union), I'm happy to keep the monarchy as long as it's strictly hereditary. A monarch who is elected is no monarch at all.

                      In fact, a monarch whose position depends on utilitarian arguments is no monarch, either. It must ultimately be a question of feelings, or loyalty, or whatever you want to call it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        But why SHOULD a constitutional monarch protect "us from the European Union", Robert?

                        So far as staying in is concerned, there was a referendum in the mid 70s that showed that 66% of the Uk population favoured staying in at that stage. A constitutional monarch is surely supposed to go with the will of the people (even, so the old cliche goes, to signing their own death warrant if so required). I'm not sure that a monarch is supposed to be "conservative" (in the sense of against change) per se, although I suspect the Queen personally prefers the Commonwealth to the EU.

                        On the handing over of powers to the EU, nothing has so far affected the internal workings of the UK - she might have been more concerned by the devolution of powers to Scotland and Wales (something she spoke about with force in a speech in 1977 - her Silver Jubilee year), or the changes to the office of Lord Chancellor, creation of a supreme court (more about civil/human rights), or adjustments to the House of Lords (political).

                        I can only imagine circumstances that she would advise, or act, against the EU if a Government or PM tried to take us into some larger European state against the wishes of the population - but even then it would be a risk that such direct action would destroy the monarchy in the process.

                        W don't know, of course, and almost certainly never will - what she has advised various PMs about over the years - from Maggie Thatcher and the miners, to Blair and the Iraq War. She is very experienced and pragmatic, so I would think she might have quietly suggested alternatives - who knows.

                        Edited to add:

                        There are several nations with monarchs in the EU - other than the UK, I can think of Netherlands, Belgium (more of an hereditary presidency actually), Spain, Luxemburg (Grand Duchy), Denmark (I can never remember which of the Scandanavian countries are in the EU, but Norway and Sweden have kings). It would be fascinating to know whether they ever communicate over the effects of the EU on their roles and their countries).
                        Phil
                        Last edited by Phil H; 07-18-2010, 07:30 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Phil H View Post
                          I'd quibble a little and say that it is not true to say that the monarch in the UK has NO power today - if one widens the word power to include influence or to play a significant and unique role in events/affairs. To give some examples:

                          * only the sovereign can dissolve Parliament (unless or until fixed term Parliaments are introduced) - although this would usually be on the advice to the Prime Minister of the day

                          * only the sovereign can invite a political leader to form an administration - to become "Prime Minister"

                          * many Government regulations are brought into force under the "royal prerogative" done through meetings of the Privy Council attended by the monarch

                          Now all these do not allow the Queen to direct affairs or dictate policy - so while I'd agree that they are not "powers" in that sense, but the monarch does play a daily and active role in Government and thus has influence.

                          In addition the Queen receives daily reports from Parliament on what has happened (written by a junior Government minister); receives many Foreign Office telegrams; and is consulted on many initiatives - for instance is is briefed on the annual budget the day before it is introduced. She sees the Prime Minister once a week and this has been seen by many former PMs as a unique opportunity to unburden themselves to someone who has absolutely no political ambition and whos confidence has never been broken.

                          In Victorian times, the political commentator Walter Bagehot defined the monarch has having three roles (even rights) viz a viz the Government of the day - to advise, to encourage and to warn. These are still held to apply today. They grow stronger and carry more weight with a long-serving monarch like Elizabeth II who can recall precedents, advice from former political figures etc which may be unknown to anyone else. She had met almost every significant foreign leader since World War II and is separately Head of the Commonwealth. She can thus draw, in that role and as Queen of some 15 other nations on advice from sources other than the UK Government and pass that on.

                          Turning to duties, the Queen holds investitures several times a year (handing old medals and orders/decorations); she hosts incoming state visits by foreign leaders, garden parties and takes the saulte at some major military parades. She tours extensively in the country and represents britain abroad and meets thousands of individuals. Its a busy job. The "red boxes" that arrive daily with papers for her to sign (from military commissions to Acts of parliament - her signatuire makes them law) take up hours of the Queen's day.

                          There is no similar set role for royal princes. The tradition, since Victorian times is for a Prince in direct line to have a military career (for George V and VI in the Royal Navy - indeed, George VI as Pince Albert fought at Jutland in 1916). Prince Charles also served in the RN. (The Queen, as a princess, put on uniform in the war in one of the woman's auxiliary services and repaired vehicle engines.)

                          William and Harry have both chosen to join the Army, although William is training as an RAF air-sea rescue pilot.

                          From the time they are about 20 royal princes and princesses are usually introduced to public life - by becoming patrons of organisations and charities, taking honorary command of regiments and Service units etc. Prince Charles has taken a role in commenting on non-political areas of life such as the environment, architecture and alternative medicine, sometimes controversially, but using his position to raise the concerns of others to a prominence they might not otherwise receive.

                          On occasion, royal princes and princesses will represent HM The Queen at events, such as funerals, openings and celebrations. they also have a role in royal ceremonial - the Garter day procession at Windsor in June etc).

                          Hope this gives a taste of what they do, come back with questions by all means.

                          Phil

                          Edited to answer this question:

                          Titular head of state, sorry but what does that mean? If she has no power and nobody in her family does then whats the point?

                          Britain has a long history (back to 1603 for the union of the crowns of Scotland and England) and the individual nations even longer histories. The first king of England (Edgar) was crowned in 971 - so it goes back over a millenium.

                          In that time the role and powers of the monarch have changed as the countries became constitutional monarchies, Parliament evolved, we fought a civil war to establish the balance, and even tried a republic for a decade or so.

                          When the American colonies gained their independence in the 1780s they established a governmental system that gave the president most of the powers that George III had had, but balanced them with judicial and legislative safeguards (Congress and Supreme Court). But Obama is still a ceremonial head of state as well as a political leader.

                          In Britain having an hereditary monarch is a safeguard against anyone else assuming supreme power (as Hitler did in Germany in 1934 on the death of Hindenburg). If George VI had been captured or killed in the Second World War he had heirs so there would be no break in legitimate Government - and no usurping authority could legitimately be set up.

                          Also in the war the "titular" monarch and his consort (titular is not a term I'd chose to use) gained huge respect and assisted moral on the Home Front in a way few politicians (Churchill apart) could have done.

                          Finally, the monarchy links the present to our long and (I'd say glorious) past, our history, the development of our institutions and our style of evolving rather than revolting.

                          I'd say the monarchy had great purpose, and in Elizabeth II an exceptional incumbent.
                          This really helped. Thanks a lot for your response!
                          Jordan

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hi Phil

                            Well of course, we'll never know the wishes of the population, since every time we are promised a referendum, there is some strange compelling reason why we can't have it after all. The good news is that if we do get a referendum, we'll probably get two - one for saying "no" and then a second "Ve vill ask you vonce again" referendum when we'll be expected to give the "right" answer.

                            The referendum in 75 was for remaining in the EEC, not a European superstate. The whole thing was blatantly loaded, right down to every household receiving two pro-EEC pamphlets to one anti-EEC pamphlet. We were told at the time that there was no need to worry, we would always have our veto - except that our vetos seem to be evaporating faster than money in an Icelandic bank.

                            I think that the EU has affected our internal politics, but to cut to the crucial question : what about membership of the Eurozone? What if that were to happen?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi Phil

                              Just saw your edit. I think Norway remains outside the EU - which means, according to the arguments advanced in 1975, that it should by now be starving or overrun by the Russians.

                              Comment

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