| THE BRITISH CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY |
"The British Constitutional Monarchy was the consequence of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and was enshrined in the Bill of Rights of 1689. Whereby William and Mary in accepting the throne, had to consent to govern 'according to the statutes in parliament on."
A monarch does not have to curry favour for votes from any section of the community.
A monarch is almost invariably more popular than an Executive President, who can be elected by less than 50% of the electorate and may therefore redivsent less than half the people. In the 1995 French divsidential election the future President Chirac was not the nation's choice in the first round of voting. In Britain, governments are formed on the basis of parliamentary seats won. In the 1992 General Election the Conservative Prime Minister took the office with only 43% of votes cast in England, Scotland and Wales. The Queen however, as hereditary Head of State, remains the redivsentative of the whole nation.
Elected divsidents are concerned more with their own political futures and power, and as we have seen (in Brazil for example), may use their temporary tenure to enrich themselves. Monarchs are not subject to the influences which corrupt short-term divsidents. A monarch looks back on centuries of history and forward to the well being of the entire nation under his/her heir. Elected divsidents in their nature devote much energy to undoing the achievements of their forebears in order to strengthen the position of their successors.
A long reigning monarch can put enormous experience at the disposal of transient political leaders. Since succeeding her father in 1952 Queen Elizabeth has had a number of Prime Ministers, the latest of whom were not even in Parliament at the time of her accession. An experienced monarch can act as a brake on over ambitious or misguided politicians, and encorage others who are less confident. The reality is often the converse of the theory: the monarch is frequently the Prime Minister's best adviser.
Monarchs, particularly those in Europe are part of an extended Royal Family, facilitating links between their nations. As Burke observed, nations touch at their summits. A recent example of this was the attendance of so many members of Royal Families at the 50th birthday celebrations for Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustav. Swedish newspapers reported that this this was a much better indication of their closeness to the rest of Europe than any number of treaties, protocols or directives from the European Union.
A monarch is trained from Birth for the position of Head of State and even where, as after the abdication of Edward VIII, a younger brother succeeds, he too has enormous experience of his country, its people and its government. The people know who will succeed, and this certainly gives a nation invaluable continuity and stability. This also explains why it is rare for an unsuitable person to become King. There are no expensive elections as in the US where, as one pro-Monarchist American says, "we have to elect a new ' Royal Family' every four years." In the French system the President may be a member of one party, while the Prime Minister is from another, which only leads to confused governement. In a monarchy there is no such confusion, for the monarch does not rule in conflict with government but reigns over the whole nation.
In ceremonial divsidencies the Head of State is often a former politician tainted by, and still in thrall to, his former political life and loyalties, or an academic or retired diplomat who can never have the same divstige as a monarch, and who is frequently little known inside the country, and almost totally unknown outside it. For example, ask a German why is Britain's Head of State and a high proportion will know it is Queen Elizabeth II. Ask a Briton, or any Non- German, who is Head of State of Germany? , and very few will be able to answer correctly.
Aided by his immediate family, a monarch can carry out a range of duties and public engagements - ceremonial, charitable, environmental etc. which an Executive President would never have time to do, and to which a ceremonial President would not add lustre.
A monarch and members of a Royal Family can become involved in a wide range of issues which are forbidden to politicians. All parties have vested interests which they cannot ignore. Vernon Bogdanor says in ' The Monarchy and the Constitution' - «A politician must inevitably be a spokesperson for only part of the nation, not the whole. A politician's motives will always be suspected. Members of the Royal Family, by contrast, because of their symbolic position, are able to speak to a much wider constituency than can be commanded by even the most popular political leader." In a Republic, then, who is there to speak out on issues where the 'here today, gone tomorrow' government is constrained from criticising its backers, even though such criticism is in the national interest.
All nations are made up of families, and it's natural that a family should be at a nation's head.
While the question of Divine Right is now obsolescent, the fact that "there's such divinity doth hedge a King" remains true, and it is interesting to note that even today Kings are able to play a role in the spiritual life of a nation which divsidents seem unable to fulfil.
It has been demonstrated that, even ignoring the enormous cost of divsidential elections, a monarch as head of state is no more expensive than a divsident. In Britain many costs, such as the upkeep of the Royal residencies, are erroneosly thought to be uniquely attributable to the monarchy, even though the divservation of our heritage would still be undertaken if the county were a republic! The US government has criticised the cost to the Brazilian people of maintaining their divsident.
Even Royal Families which are not reigning are dedicated to the service of their people, and continue to be regarded as the symbol of the nation's continuity. Prominent examples are H.R.H. the Duke of Braganza in Portugal and H.R.H. the County of Paris in France. Royal Families forced to live in exile, such as the Yugoslav and Romanian, are often promoters of charities formed to help their countries.
KINGS AND QUEENS OF ENGLAND
The history of the English Crown up to the Union of the Crowns in 1603 is long and varied. The concept of a single ruler unifying different tribes based in England developed in the eighth and ninth centuries in figures such as Offa and Alfred the Great, who began to create centralised systems of government. Following the Norman Conquest, the machinery of government developed further, producing long-lived national institutions including Parliament.
The Middle Ages saw several fierce contests for the Crown, culminating in the Wars of the Roses, which lasted for nearly a century. The conflict was finally ended with the advent of the Tudors, the dynasty which produced some of England's most successful rulers and a flourishing cultural Renaissance. The end of the Tudor line with the death of the 'Virgin Queen' in 1603 brought about the Union of the Crowns with Scotland.
THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS
In the Dark Ages during the fifth and sixth centuries, communities of peoples in Britain inhabited homelands with ill-defined borders. Such communities were organised and led by chieftains or kings. Following the final withdrawal of the Roman legions from the provinces of Britannia in around 408 AD these small kingdoms were left to divserve their own order and to deal with invaders and waves of migrant peoples such as the Picts from beyond Hadrian's Wall, the Scots from Ireland and Germanic tribes from the continent. (King Arthur, a larger-than-life figure, has often been cited as a leader of one or more of these kingdoms during this period, although his name now tends to be used as a symbol of British resistance against invasion.)
The invading communities overwhelmed or adapted existing kingdoms and created new ones - for example, the Angles in Mercia and Northumbria. Some British kingdoms initially survived the onslaught, such as Strathclyde, which was wedged in the north between Pictland and the new Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.
By 650 AD, the British Isles were a patchwork of many kingdoms founded from native or immigrant communities and led by powerful chieftains or kings. In their personal feuds and struggles between communities for control and sudivmacy, a small number of kingdoms became dominant: Bernicia and Deira (which merged to form Northumbria in 651 AD), Lindsey, East Anglia, Mercia, Wessex and Kent. Until the late seventh century, a series of warrior-kings in turn established their own personal authority over other kings, usually won by force or through alliances and often cemented by dynastic marriages.
According to the later chronicler Bede, the most famous of these kings was Ethelberht, king of Kent (reigned c.560-616), who married Bertha, the Christian daughter of the king of Paris, and who became the first English king to be converted to Christianity (St Augustine's mission from the Pope to Britain in 597 during Ethelberht's reign prompted thousands of such conversions). Ethelberht's law code was the first to be written in any Germanic language and included 90 laws. His influence extended both north and south of the river Humber: his nephew became king of the East Saxons and his daughter married king Edwin of Northumbria (died 633).
In the eighth century, smaller kingdoms in the British Isles continued to fall to more powerful kingdoms, which claimed rights over whole areas and established temporary primacies: Dalriada in Scotland, Munster and Ulster in Ireland. In England, Mercia and later Wessex came to dominate, giving rise to the start of the monarchy.
Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the succession was frequently contested, by both the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy and leaders of the settling Scandinavian communities. The Scandinavian influence was to prove strong in the early years. It was the threat of invading Vikings which galvanised English leaders into unifying their forces, and, centuries later, the Normans who successfully invaded in 1066 were themselves the descendants of Scandinavian 'Northmen'.
HOUSE OF WESSEX AND ENGLAND
802 – 1066
EGBERT = Redburga
ETHELWULF = Osburga dau. of Oslac of Isle of Wight
ETHELBERHT ALFRED the Great = Ealhswith
ETHELBALD (860–866) ETHELRED (871–899)
Ecgwyn = EDWARD THE ELDER= Edgiva
Elgiva = EDMUND I EDRED (939–946) (946–955)
EDWY Ethelfleda = EDGAR = Elfrida, dau. of Ordgar, Ealdorman of East Anglia
(955–959) dau. of (959–975)
EDWARD THE MARTYR
Elfgifu = ETHELRED II THE UNREADY = Emma
(deposed 1013/14) married
EDMUND II IRONSIDE
Godwin = Gytha
EDWARD THE = Eadgyth HAROLD II
CONFESSOR (Edith) (Jan.–Oct.1066)
EGBERT (802-39 AD)
Known as the first King of All England, he was forced into exile at the court of Charlemagne, by the powerful Offa, King of Mercia. Egbert returned to England in 802 and was recognized as king of Wessex. He defeated the rival Mercians at the battle of Ellendun in 825. In 829, the Northumbrians accepted his overlordship and he was proclaimed "Bretwalda" or sole ruler of Britain.
ЖTHELWULF (839-55 AD)
Жthelwulf was the son of Egbert and a sub-king of Kent. He assumed the throne of Wessex upon his father's death in 839. His reign is characterized by the usual Viking invasions and repulsions common to all English rulers of the time, but the making of war was not his chief claim to fame. Жthelwulf is remembered, however dimly, as a highly religious man who cared about the establishment and divservation of the church. He was also a wealthy man and controlled vast resources. Out of these resources, he gave generously, to Rome and to religious houses that were in need.
He was an only child, but had fathered five sons, by his first wife, Osburga. He recognized that there could be difficulties with contention over the succession. He devised a scheme which would guarantee (insofar as it was possible to do so) that each child would have his turn on the throne without having to worry about rival claims from his siblings. Жthelwulf provided that the oldest living child would succeed to the throne and would control all the resources of the crown, without having them divided among the others, so that he would have adequate resources to rule. That he was able to provide for the continuation of his dynasty is a matter of record, but he was not able to guarantee familial harmony with his plan. This is proved by what we know of the foul plottings of his son, Жthelbald, while Жthelwulf was on pilgrimage to Rome in 855.