Queen Windsor Follows Orders

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Queen Windsor is literally on the payroll of the executive branch of our government. Two of the three individuals who decide how much of the Crown Estate should be paid to her family are the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the other is her chief financial officer!)

Windsor showed her loyalty to her paymasters when prime minister Boris Johnson asked her to approve his decision to shut parliament in order to prevent opposition to his plan for the UK to leave the European Union without an agreement.

She rubber-stamped his decision, which was described by the Financial Times law commentator David Allen Green as “a direct attack on parliamentary democracy”.

Mr Green also wrote that “The monarch’s decision itself is probably not susceptible to judicial review”. So when the hereditary ruler makes her decisions there is nothing we can do about it.

She rubber-stamped the decision of a prime minister choosen only by members of the Conservative Party and without a majority in parliament. By doing so as monarch she gave a blantantly partisan decision the aura of something above politics. But then she had done that already by appointing Boris Johnson as prime minister.

It is not surprising that a feudal head of state should be useless in the defence of democracy. We cannot expect a feudal ruler to be a guardian of the very rights that her existance takes from us.

Some say that Windsor had no choice but to follow the advice of the prime minister. While there is an unwritten constitution that relies instead on convention it is difficult to be sure about that. But if it is true the head of state is of little practical use and of no use as a counterweight to the executive or as a barrier to unconstitutional or illegal acts. The queen is an extraordinarily expensive figurehead.

A monarch has no democratic legitimacy. It is difficult, therefore, for a queen to act as a defender of democratic principles and rules. A democratic head of state with clearly defined responsibilities and accountability to the people, could hold the ring in circumstances such as these.

We need a democratic head of state and a written constitution if we wish to have protection against similar attacks on democracy.