The Guardian has been running a succession of investigative articles this week into the little known constitutional procedure, Queen’s consent. Whereas royal assent is a simple mechanism for rubber-stamping legislation, once both houses of parliament are in agreement over the wording, Queen’s consent has been shrouded in mystery.
The UK’s constitutional monarchy rests on the idea that the monarch is above and out of politics. They do not interfere, or so we have been told for a very long time. What The Guardian has unearthed is an understanding of Queen’s Consent that blows that idea to smithereens.
Buckingham Palace describe Queen’s Consent as “a parliamentary process, with the role of sovereign purely formal. Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by government.” However, the investigation shows that this statement is excellent civil service language. It is totally correct but at the same time hides a massive, important piece of information. The hidden bit is the negotiations that go on before consent is granted by the monarch. It appears true that legislation has not been blocked. However, it is also the case that legislation has been altered at the behest of the monarch. This fundamentally undemocratic process happens out of the gaze of public scrutiny and behind closed doors. They have also grown used to doing so via telephone to avoid any written record.
Queen’s consent for legislation has to be sought by the government, should legislation affect the royal prerogative. The prerogative is a set of powers the government holds, which used to be performed by the monarch. The deployment of troops is an obvious example but they are wide ranging. On top of this, consent is required should legislation affect the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, the latter being the concern of Prince Charles. It also must be sought if legislation might affect the finances of the royal family or the land they own. In effect, the monarchy can thoroughly interfere with legislation on a wide range of issues and they have done just that. The reports show that the Queen and her solicitors have interfered with over 1,000 pieces of legislation since she came to the throne.
So far, it has been left to the liberal media to get angry about this. The Guardian itself is asking questions about how the process could be abused further by a monarch with more political leanings. Former Lib Dem MP, Norman Baker, has called it an outrage. I’m not sure many anarchists will be surprised about it. Such abuses are, after all, the reason for having hierarchy. It is surely hierarchy itself that is a larger abuse, enabling such things to happen.
What it tells us, and provides proof of, is that the British monarchy’s murky and dark underbelly is akin to gang rule, with the apparatus of the state supporting it. It is a direct link to the feudal history of Britain, showing that it hasn’t entirely come to an end. It proves without doubt that Windsor is on the make and on the take, a grubby parasite that’s outlived her uselessness.
Passing legislation to end the procedure is an obvious liberal answer. Actually, ending the monarchy would have one day been seen as an obvious liberal answer but they lost their bottle a few centuries back, perhaps when they discovered sandals. In any case, ending it via legislation would require consent from the very person benefiting from the rule.
It is an utter scandal that in the 21st century the British monarch is contributing to, negotiating over and insisting upon the wording of legislation. We would be wrong to simply file this in the “quelle surprise” category. It isn’t as if the institution of the monarchy is OK, if only they stop interfering. This new information on the horrors of monarchy tells us they were worse than we thought. What they are doing needs to be stopped but more than that, it is proof that the institution of monarchy is beyond reform. Liberal attempts to tame it will fail and are, frankly, embarrassing. Monarchy must be smashed.