Commonwealth is in secret talks to decide whether Prince Charles should take over when Queen, 92, dies
Commonwealth not hereditary and unclear who will take over when Queen dies
Set up a ‘high level group’ of top figures to discuss ‘governance considerations’
Queen wants Prince Charles to take over but fears this will not seem democratic…
The Queen, who turns 92 in April, was proclaimed Head of the Commonwealth at her coronation when she was head of state in seven of its eight members, and wants Prince Charles to succeed her.
But it is not a hereditary position that will pass automatically to the Prince of Wales, who will be head of state in only 15 of the 53 member nations that now make up the Commonwealth.
I believe that the crown of England is in fact a hereditary position, even if the Head of the Commonwealth is not. So here in Britain we’ll have Charlie as our king, whether we like it or not.
I think that the death of the Queen is going to be a terrific shock for us Brits. There’s going to be real grief. She’s been a constant in our national life for over 65 years. I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t Queen.
Charlie’s probably perfectly capable of doing the job, but he’ll never manage to fill her shoes. And he’s a rather divisive figure, because he’s a bit of an environmentalist tree-hugger. And he believes in Global Warming. So he’s likely to be a monarch who intervenes in matters on which he has some sort of personal opinion. The Queen usually keeps her own counsel. She doesn’t say what she really thinks, although it’s possible to guess.
Her death will also raise the question of whether we should have a monarch at all. Isn’t it a bit of an outdated institution? Isn’t it all a bit silly?
For myself I’m a royalist, because I think that, if nothing else, a monarch is able to in some sense personify a nation or state, and provide a centre to it. And if the centre is lost, it bodes ill for the nation.
Is it particularly surprising that the period of time between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the death of his usurper, Oliver Cromwell, in 1658 is not remembered as a happy time in the nation’s history? And did not the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, not long after the French revolution of 1789, inaugurate a Reign of Terror in France? And did not the murder of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in 1918, not long after the Russian revolution, inaugurate an equivalent Terror in Russia?
At the end of WW2, the Japanese insisted on keeping their emperor, as a condition for their surrender. Was that rather silly of them? Perhaps not. Hirohito was the 124th emperor of Japan. There have only been about 66 British monarchs, by comparison.
In the USA, the role of head of state is held by the President of the United States. And in Donald Trump they currently have a rather divisive President, whom half the country loves, and the other half hates. And in many ways this can’t be helped, because as elected officials they are people who have been accepted by one set of voters, and rejected by the rest. And so US presidents are always likely to be divisive figures in their own country. It may be one reason why quite a few of them have been assassinated.
But in Britain, where the role of head of state is fulfilled by the Queen, the Prime Minister doesn’t have to perform that task. So life is rather easier for British prime ministers. They can get on with the job of running the country. And they’re also less likely to be assassinated.
The founding fathers of the US constitution did not see fit to replace George III with their own American king, after they had successfully defeated his forces. And that was perhaps in part because they’d just been fighting against the English crown, and had no wish to replace one despot with another. The American colonists had been subjected to any number of high-handed interventions by a British government in which they had no representatives, and they perhaps wanted above all to have a representative government, because they had none. They seem to have therefore seen George III as not just a king, but also a tyrant, and had no wish to replace him with any other sovereign.
But the reign of Queen Elizabeth II has not been one of tyranny or despotism. Hers has been one of the kindest and gentlest of reigns. There is no need for kings to be despots, even if some of them are.
And it can’t be too long now before she’s gone. Personally I hope she lasts another 100 years. But that’s just wishful thinking, of course. All too soon I think us Brits are going to find out what happens when the centre of national life is lost.
In other news:
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a tool that purports to detect and block jihadist content online, and tech companies may end up being legally required to use it.
London-based firm ASI Data Science was handed £600,000 by government to develop the unnamed algorithm, which uses machine learning to analyse Daesh propaganda videos.
According to the Home Office, tests have shown the tool automatically detects 94 per cent of Daesh propaganda with 99.995 per cent accuracy.
The department claimed the algorithm has an “extremely high degree of accuracy”, with only 50 out of a million randomly selected videos requiring additional human review.
How long before they detect and block climate sceptic content, or pro-smoking content?