Discursive Essay - The British Monarchy - 1449 Words | Cram

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The real impact of the royal prerogative, however, is is not so much to empower the monarch as to allow the executive to bypass parliamentary scrutiny. Through royal prerogative powers, the government is able to declare war, make treaties, conduct diplomacy, govern Britain’s overseas territories and appoint and remove ministers, all without parliamentary approval. In 2003, on the very eve of the Iraq war, and well after it was clear that Britain and America were going to attack Iraq anyway, Parliament debated the issue and approved the attack. But even had it not approved of the action, it could not legally have prevented it – the royal prerogative would have allowed Tony Blair to commit to war without parliamentary approval. It was those powers that allowed David Cameron to attack Libya this month without first consulting parliament. The ability of the executive to bypass Parliament in this fashion is not only deeply undemocratic, it also serves to deepen the sense of the futility of politics.

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But while the power of a constitutional monarch like the British Queen may be constrained compared to that of an absolute ruler like the king of Bahrain, the influence that comes with monarchical privilege remains deep and untrammeled. (It is worth adding that the king of Bahrain’s hand may be dripping with the blood of the hundreds of protestors murdered, beaten up and tortured in his kingdom, but he nevertheless remains a close friend of the royal family and his son, the Crown Prince, who last week ‘the relentless efforts of Bahrain’s security forces to maintain security and stability’, has received an invitation to the Royal Wedding.)

The British monarchy has been alive, unbroken for nearly a thousand years.

George III is often remembered by non-specialists as the king who lost America, a view based partly on the language of the Declaration of Independence ('The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of absolute Tyranny over these States') and partly on the interpretation of the Whig historians of the nineteenth century who saw a more authoritarian monarchy as the root cause of the conflict with the colonies. We now know, of course, that the Declaration of Independence placed all the blame on the king at least partly to destroy continuing affection for him in the thirteen colonies/states. We also know that the perspective of the Whig historians was anachronistic; they read back into George III's reign many of the constitutional assumptions current in their own century. Nevertheless, given George's reputation, Ditchfield could hardly have avoided this issue, and he devotes a chapter to the king and empire. Here George III emerges in much the same way as he does in the chapter on high politics - as a monarch who was not afraid to have his say, but who was not his own first minister. On American affairs, at least until the outbreak of war with the thirteen colonies, George generally supported his governments rather than imposed his views upon them. He does not come across as a hard-liner. Occasionally, indeed, he acted as a restraining influence, as when, in 1769, he cautioned against remodelling the charter of Massachusetts to strengthen executive authority. Once armed conflict with the rebel colonies began, George came more to the forefront and was clearly determined that the war should be pursued to a successful conclusion; but even then he made it abundantly clear that he saw himself as contending for the rights of the British Parliament, not his own independent authority.

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The Celebritization Of Monarchy Media Essay

Ditchfield deals with this issue very directly: he uses Cannon's view as a launching pad for his explanation of the need for another study of George III. The justification he offers is convincing - or at any rate convinced me. He highlights three major recent developments in historical studies of the eighteenth century that earlier work on George III inevitably failed to address. The first is the recognition of the centrality of religion to a period in which it was once thought to be of declining importance. The second is the increasing awareness of the need to understand British history in a properly European context. A growing interest in monarchy as an institution that played a key role in popular identification with the nation is the third. Ditchfield accordingly offers us chapters on George III's religion, his role as a European figure, and his later popular phase, when he acted as a focus for national revival after defeat in the American war, and for a new form of patriotic pride at the time of the conflict with revolutionary France.

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The argument that the British monarchy is ‘apolitical’ is about as plausible as the idea that Kate Middleton, the daughter of multi-millionaires, is like , as many in the press insist on describing her. It is true, that in constitutional monarchies, such as that in Britain or Sweden, the king or queen appears to wield little political power. Unlike, say, in the Middle East, where monarchies remain resolutely old-fashioned, absolute and brutal, European royal houses often seem more like harmless national symbols than malevolent political institutions.

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Unavoidably, Ditchfield is obliged to consider again some of the older perspectives on the king. The fluctuating fortunes of George's historical reputation are the subject of the first chapter, in which various interpretations of his role in high politics are summarized and studies of the king's health are evaluated (his famous bouts of insanity are now widely recognized to have been a form of porphyria). In another chapter, Ditchfield offers his own judgements on George III and British politics from his accession to the throne in 1760 until the general election of 1784 - perhaps the most contentious period of the king's long reign. The promotion of the Earl of Bute, George's former tutor, to senior political office, despite his lack of experience or following in parliament; the king's continuing to show greater confidence in Bute than in his immediate successors; the dismissal of the first Rockingham administration in 1766; and, perhaps most serious of all, the undermining of the Fox-North coalition and the imposition of Pitt the Younger on a hostile parliament at the end of 1783 - all were cited at the time, and have been cited many times by historians since, as instances of George III's willingness to ignore constitutional proprieties. Ditchfield is generally sympathetic to his subject, but far from uncritical. The king's direct interventions in decision-making, and the issue of whether he pushed monarchical power beyond what was considered to be constitutionally acceptable, are dealt with fairly and judiciously.