The Kings and Queens of England
England is one the few countries left in the world that, wrongly or rightly, still maintains a monarch who has a constitutional role in the workings of government. Why? Why has Britain kept its monarchy in a modern world where 'divine royal birthright' makes little rational sense and the notion of aristocracy is, at best, an anochronism and at worst an affront to egalitarianism. Is it just for tourism? Tradition? An attempt to hold on to former glory? What would Britain be like without the Royal pomp and circumstance it has made its signature feature?
According to the official website of the Royal family:
The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognises success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.
This comes at a cost to the public as, even though cuts to the Royal expenses have been made, the extended Royal Family still costs British taxpayers millions of pounds. For example, it recently cost £14,756 in travel expenses for the Prince of Wales to take the Royal Train from London to Cumbria to launch the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. Similarly it cost £21,002 for the Royal Train to take the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to the Royal Variety Performance in December 2009. If that's the cost of just one outing, how much is the whole shebang? Anyone interested can find the finacial expenditure reports at the official British Monarchy website:
The Oldest Form of Government
Monarchy is the oldest form of government in Britain, though the monarchy is no longer in posession of the abolute powers it once had. While the Queen is head of State, this is largely a figure-head postion, as the power to create legislation lies with Parliament.
However, certain powers do still remain and sometimes this causes controversy. In an episode of Australian history known as The Dismissal in 1975, the then Governor General, as a representative of the Queen, "sacked" the Priminister of the day and forced a general election causing a divisive and volatile reaction among politicians and the public alike. Questions were raised about the relevancy of the Royal family to Australia and the Republican movement was given an impetus.
Despite this, Australia too, has chosen to retain it's royal connections and in a referendum, the Republican option was rejected by the people. It seemed Australians wanted to hang on to their sovereign, though many believe when the present Queen leaves the throne, the Republicans will succeed.
The success and popularity of the monarchy has always depended to a very large extent upon the poularity of individual monarchs and throughout history, Britain has had it's share of great and not so great royal leaders.
A List of the Kings and Queens of England
William the Conqueror (Wiliam I) - 1066 to 1087
William Rufus (William II) - 1087 to 1100
Henry I - 1100 to 1135
Stephen - 1135 to 1154
Edward IV - 1461 to 1483
Edward V - 1483 to 1483 (four months)
Richard III - 1483 to 1485
Henry IV - 1399 to 1413
Henry V - 143 to 1422
Henry VI - 1422 to 1461
Henry II - 1154 to 1189
Richard I - 1189 to 1199
John - 1189 to 1216
Henry III - 1216 to 1272
Edward I - 1272 to 1307
Edward II - 1307 to 1327
Edward III - 1327 to 1377
Richard II - 1377 to 1399
Henry VII - 1485 to 1509
Henry VIII - 1509 to 1547
Edward VI -1547 to 1553
Queen Jane - 1553 to 1553 (fourteen days)
Mary I - 1553 to 1558
Elizabeth I - 1558 to 1603
James I - 1603 to 1625
Charles I - 1625 to 1649
On the 19th of May, 1649, Oliver Cromwell overthrew the Monarchy and temporarily established a Republican Commonwealth and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658, fllowed by Richard Cromwell, who was Lord Protector from 1658- 59, after which the monarchy was restored.
Charles II - 1660 to 1685
James II - 1685 to 1688
William III and Mary II - 1689 to 1702
Anne - 1702 to 1714
George I - 1714 to 1727
George II - 1727 to 1760
George III - 1760 to 1820
George IV - 1820 to 1830
William IV - 1830 to 1837
Victoria - 1837 to 1901
Edward VII - 1901 to 1910
George V - 1910 to 1936
Edward VIII - !936 to 1936 (abdicated)
George VII - 1936 to 1952
Elizabeth II - 1952 and still reigning
- Prince Harry's Charm
Harry, on the other hand, has a kind of rakish charm that is very appealing..at least to this writer. Of course, not having had the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with him, I'm unable to say with any accuracy whether he is a complete airhead or
- Princess Anne: Inside the Princess Royal
Does anyone care about Princess Anne these days? Perhaps they do in dear old England but as a non-Brit I rarely see her photograph grace the pages of a celebrity magazine, nor do I hear any gossip coming from that direction.