Devil’s Advocate: should the royals really still be relevant?

Yes 58%, No 42%


Who would you rather have as head of state – Queen Elizabeth or Donald Trump? Personally – call me old fashioned – I would rather have someone who knows what she is doing, even if she is apolitical. Donald Trump, on the other hand – if elected to the position of President of United States – will have a terrifyingly large collection of nuclear missiles to play with, and a huge conflict of interest between his business concerns and his position as head of state.

While you might argue that this is an unfair comparison, the Queen is a hereditary monarch, while Trump is one of two candidates for an elected presidency, there are more similarities than you might realise. The Queen is head of the armed forces, and, like the president, has a veto on any legislation passed through parliament. Like Donald Trump she is a billionaire (if you include the Royal Art collection). The difference, however, is obvious; the Queen doesn’t ever actually use her veto, and her position as head of the armed forces is delegated to the executive (i.e. the Cabinet, which itself derives its authority as a committee of the Privy Council). Yet the fact remains that if we ever had a tyrannical Prime Minister, the Queen could veto any legislation not in her subjects’ favour. For this reason alone, there is a good enough case to argue that the royals should still be relevant, because they serve to protect the nation from tyranny.

Let us not forget St Andrew’s favourite Royal – Prince William – who along with Kate seems to be responsible for a good number of the recent influx of international students. Let us not forget the coffee shop that boldly proclaims in its window “Where Will met Kate – For Coffee,” or the café on Bell Street with its delicious Cambridge Scones. While the celebrity status of Kate and Wills perhaps may seem unwarranted, it is important – because it subjects the heir to the throne to public scrutiny so that when he becomes king he will be prepared for the stressful job of reigning over the country. Plus, if the royals weren’t so laud ed, there wouldn’t be any Cambridge Scones. Let us not forget what royal status allows the royal family to do for the country Prince Harry, with his Invictus Games, inspired injured war heroes to compete in Paralympic sports. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is responsible for who knows how many children getting lost in the Welsh countryside. The Prince of Wales’ Charities are responsible for getting young people like ourselves back into farming, and the Prince of Wales himself has popularised wool jumpers and organic food long before they were fashionable. Let us not forget the Queen, patron of about a trillion charities and as important to British everyday life as the Great British Bake Off. Look what happened when that moved to Channel 4 – just think what might happen if the Queen decided to move to Canada.

All of this is good for the country, and it isn’t as if the royal family do nothing all day – they are busy doing charitable work, even if it might look like just good fun to us. Sure, it may seem outdated and elitist to allow such a level of inequality to exist, but the royal family allows for historic links between the Commonwealth realms to be maintained. So in theory, the Queen could move to Canada, but it would probably upset lots of people over here. Maintaining historic links between the Commonwealth is why Prince William and his family were recently visiting Canada – the purpose of their visit being to convince the Canadians that the royals are still relevant and in touch. Connections with the Commonwealth countries are going to be especially important when Article 50 is triggered, so really, anything the royals can do to aid that process is a good thing.

What our monarchy represents is worth maintaining and is very important. It represents unity, not just throughout the United Kingdom, but also throughout the Commonwealth. This unity is something which we need now more than ever, and the existence of royals plays a small part in allowing it to continue.

I will continue to argue that the royals remain relevant – because of their charity work and because of their ability to foster unity between the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom. Let us celebrate the relevance of the royals with our scones and jam, organic vegetables and awful national anthem. If that’s not enough for you, you can even visit Edinburgh to see one of the Queen’s beautiful castles and cast an admiring glance at her crown jewels.

– Max Waller

Yes 58%, No 42%
Yes 58%, No 42%


It shocks me to my core that in a 21st Century, purportedly progressive society, the great monarchic debate still rages on with the same centuries-old, fiery intensity – an antiquated relic from a time in which female suffrage was an alien and threatening concept. And while we’re at it, let’s just quash this idea, central to so many Pro-Monarchy arguments, that somehow the Royal Family’s traditional and historic role within our society has any weight at all. It doesn’t. Let me be clear: when a society rejects tradition in favour of pragmatism, abandoning historical legislation because it has fundamentally ceased to be appropriate, I call that progress. Yes, the royal family is part of the sweeping Britannic tapestry that makes up our thousands of years of history as a civilisation, but, in a very real way, so were a number of practises that we now retrospectively treat with a sense of somewhat muted denial. It was once considered shocking that a woman’s position could be anything other than homemaker and housewife. Rampant colonisation was once a source of pride for our people. Thank goodness the same appeal to tradition was rejected then as it should be now. We’ve made incredible, awe-inspiring progress since those times, and in so many areas – isn’t it about time we adapted to the requirements of a modern age?

With that being said, the way I think this debate should be tackled is by first effectively rebutting the usual royalist arguments, and then engaging with both the moral and the practical reasons that hereditary monarchy is wrong. So, what does the monarchy actually do for us? Well, the classic royalist argument goes something like this: “But Mr Republican! The royals are a tremendous source of income for us as a nation! Do you know how much money they raise for us through tourism?” Time and time again we hear this same tired argument. Let me ask you: do you genuinely believe that were we to remove the royal family, our tourism would enormously suffer? Would a tourist shun Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Windsor Castle, simply because a Windsor no longer sat upon the throne? And let me ask you another question: how much tourism do you think Versailles receives, with France a proud republic? The British Tourism Board rarely even uses the royal image in its material. Log onto the Visit Britain website now, and count the references to the royals in full display. Of course, the fact that the existence of the royal family does little to alleviate our international reputation as a stuck-up, snooty country, still obsessed with class, might have something to do with that as well.

In a certain sense, the abolition of the monarchy concerns principles that transcend tourism and petty finance. For me, the existence of the royals is symbolic of this country’s deep-seated inequality. The political elite that form our government at present, irrespective of their success (which I have no intention of discussing in this article), do still fuel the belief, by their very existence, that politics is a game for the privileged – a kleptocratic, oligarchical, antiquated system that is impossible for most “ordinary” people to penetrate. Technically speaking, we have a tertiary system of lawmaking – the Commons, the Lord, and the Queen. With two-thirds of those bodies being unelected, and with the Lords having a real, undeniable political power, it is small wonder that the youth of this country have experienced a wave of political apathy and dispassion that I have genuine sympathy for. Why try to influence a system that, by its very makeup, seems to reject change?

One word that is bandied around for political capital these days is “democracy.” We all know it, we’ve all heard it – on the lips of politicians, in the newspapers, in our textbooks. Rule by the demos – the people, a bottom-up, “fair” system of direct representation. Our understanding of “democracy” has moved on from the literal, original meaning, and for good reason, but it is nonetheless undeniable that our present system of representation reduces the impact of an individual vote. Now, I’ve never been one for placing idealism above practicality, and with that in mind, I’m not trying to advocate widespread change in the voting system – I’m merely pointing out that the royal family contributes to this wider problem by their very existence. Talking about the fact that the public actively contributes towards their lifestyle, funding them to the tune of £35 million a year (some more extreme estimates reach as high as £334 million) is just flogging a dead horse at this point. At any rate, the royal family poses an ineffable and potentially destructive affront to modern ideas of democracy and fairness, a suffocating reminder that some things never seem to change, and that for me is the most important point of all.

Ollie Sayers


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