Thursday, October 13, 2011

Isn't tradition the point?

Walter Russell Mead reacts to Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal that the Act of Settlement [1701]—setting the rules for succession to the English throne—be revised to permit an oldest daughter of a monarch to take precedence over her younger eldest brother and also to allow the ruler to have a Catholic spouse:
.... On the one hand, we think the days when RC monarchs tried to drag the country back into papist slavery are pretty much done. No more heretics will be burned at British stakes no matter how many rosaries they say at Buckingham Palace. So that part is OK.

On the fair play for princesses side, there is also no problem. The English seem to like queens, so why shouldn’t they have more of them? The only objection, and it is frankly a faint one, is this: isn’t tradition the point of a monarchy? The monarchy is inherently ‘unfair’ in that some people get to be royal while most don’t. The point isn’t fairness and it isn’t transparency. Modernizing a monarchy by making it more equal is a little like reforming a religion by taking out God. Very much more rational, as Jane Austen once wrote, and very much less like a ball.

The ultimate way to modernize a monarchy is to abolish it; maybe that will be Britain’s next step.
More Queens, Please | Via Meadia