Thursday, 17 May 2007

Why democarcies must be republics ..

So I was wrong. Apparently Prince Harry isn't expendable and he won't now be going to Iraq, even with a desk job.

The army have said that if anything happened to him it would be a 'disaster for the country'. Not sure how this is to be taken by the families of the other 150 odd British service people killed in Iraq to date. Presumably in comparison, these deaths were obviously a bit of bugger but not actually a disaster as such.

The army have also said if Harry were to go it would endanger the lives of his colleagues. You could say that it's bit late now to start worrying about the unnecessary risking of lives after embarking on an illegal war with no exit strategy.

It really does look like one rule for the nobs and another for the rest of us.

And in a similar vein:

The Diana inquest is foundering on the problems of crown immunity. It has been suggested that the queen should be questioned as part of the proceedings, but of course there is no constitutional basis for this. In fact the last time anybody tried to do this we had a civil war and a king ended up on the scaffold.

Just supposing for a moment that Mohamed Al-Fayed isn't the fantasist that he appears to be, and that the royal family did have a part in Diana's death, or more probably, that they had some influence in a cover-up of embarrassing details. Is it acceptable that there is no mechanism for holding them to account ?

There is a deep strain of inequality and privilege in this country, and the monarchy is at the centre of this in both a symbolic and also very real way.

Even in nations for whose governments I have little regard, there are not the ridiculous anomalies and fundamental injustices of a hereditary monarchy. In the US, heads of state have (and in recent times) been held to public account. In Israel, can you imagine the son of a politician being exempted from active service with the IDF ?

Perhaps it is no accident that both nations have a much more deep rooted concept of 'citizenship' than we do in the UK with one foot still in the middle ages.

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