The relevance of the British monarchy has been questioned for many years, but will Brexit further reduce the political power and therefore usefulness of the royal family? Luca provides a balanced view of some of the arguments for and against the abolition of the monarchy.
Brexit Versus Monarchy?
The monarchy has been a fundamental part of the way the UK is governed since the Norman conquest in 1066, however its future is constantly being questioned today. Those in favour of its abolition argue that as the UK’s uncodified constitution (a constitution that is made up of rules that are found in a variety of sources, in the absence of a single legal document or written constitution) has evolved the need for a monarch has become somewhat obsolete. However, others defend the monarchy, arguing that, even if it is no longer useful politically, it offers economic benefits such as the revenue created by tourism, and is an important part of British culture.
The Queen, even now when the monarch’s power is greatly diminished, has roles in legislature, executive and judiciary branches of the state. However, these are all largely ceremonial and usually just involve her signing for confirmation. This in itself emphasises the lack of need for a monarch. The monarch’s loss of power can be traced back to constitutional documents such as the Magna Carta (1215) or the Bill of Rights (1791), and a popular argument is that monarchy contradicts the notion of democracy as it means the rule of a single supreme figure. Moreover, maintaining the monarchy costs tax payers 62 pence per annum on average which could be spent more effectively on public services such as the NHS.
On the other hand, the royal family generates a large income through tourism, for example attracting people to visit Buckingham Palace. According to Brand Finance, tourism revenue connected to the monarch and its heritage was valued at £535 million for 2015. Industry in the UK also benefits to a certain extent from what is known as “the Kate effect”. The royal family indirectly endorses clothing lines through fashion choices, particularly the Duchess of Cambridge but also Prince George.
Monarchy is also seen by many in the UK as the epitome of British culture, something which invokes a sense of belonging. In some ways, it is a reminder of our national identity, and many people look up to them as positive role models in our society. This of course works both ways as one could say it provides an identity so far removed from the reality of what life is like.
The arguments for and against monarchy have been ongoing for some time. However, this controversial debate may find itself being more widely talked about as we continue with Brexit negotiations. As the UK’s uncodified constitution evolves or is potentially even completely reworked by these changes, the royal family may see themselves becoming increasingly irrelevant. Could Brexit make the abolition of the monarch’s power necessary?
By Luca Lyons