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packsaddle

Kings and Queens

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No, not about playing cards. Some of the other threads in this forum made me think about the 'idea' of having a king or a queen or some other form of absolute monarch. And I realize that not only can I not fully imagine the situation of having such a person with that kind of power (and there's not much anyone can do to help me with this), I also can't understand why, even if it is just a figurehead who 'used' to have absolute power...why would anyone cling to this, even in a sentimental way? I just don't get it.

If a former President of the United States, the day after he became a private citizen again, didn't put enough quarters into the parking meter, I'd expect him to get the same violation notice as any other citizen (although I'm also realistic enough to understand that he might still be able to pull a string or two, but you get the idea).

 

Because I've never experienced this personally, I can't fully understand in terms of personal impact to my life the 'idea' of living under an absolute monarch in which citizens are granted no rights whatsoever except those that the king or queen 'feel' like granting. I understand the 'legal' aspects but not the 'state of being'...and that's something I don't expect anyone else can help with.

But the part I would like anyone to explain is: why would anyone feel some kind of warm and fuzzy feelings toward such an absolute monarch? Especially after such an absolute monarch had had their pin feathers pulled, so-to-speak, and are now serving essentially at the pleasure of the people. Me, I'd be tempted to strip them down to the level of private citizen (perhaps in jail as a criminal) if I had that ability.

Help me out if anyone can.

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I don't quite understand what you mean by absolute monarch, given how few remain in the world, or is your question really about monarchs in general?

 

Cheers

 

Gareth

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Monarchs in general today. But I'm keeping in mind that the ones without the pin feathers today at some time in the past often were also absolute.

If you throw dictators into the mix there are a few of those as well, but recently not as many as there were before, lol.

 

Interesting...how long does a dictator and his family have to rule before they are called, 'king'...or 'royal family'?

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I must admit that I assumed that's what you meant but still find yuor question confussing. What is it you want to know?

 

I'll try to provide an opinion on what I think you're asking:

Monarchies come in many shades just like democracies, from absolute through to constitutional. In the UK the absolute power of the monarch was first constrained by the Magna Carta in 1215 followed by Habeas Corpus, Petition of Right and the Bill of Rights all in the 17th Centuries.

 

What purpose does the Queen serve? Well, in the UK the Queen is:

 

Head of State for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are technically not part of the UK and have their own governments)

 

Head of the Government (legislature (Her Majesties Government and Her Majesties Loyal Opposition) and executive)

 

Head of the Judicary

 

Head of the Established Church in England and Scotland

 

Head of the Armed Forces (traditionally the Royal Navy do not pledge allegiance to the Queen but to the Admiralty Board, for whom the the Queen is the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom)

 

So what does it all mean? Well in the US you elect your Head of State by electoral college, if I understand correctly then a President could in theory be elected by gaining enough electoral college votes despite not getting a majority vote of the people. So you may have a dislike your head of state. To get around this you instead pledge allegiance to your flag and to the Republic.

So you could replace Flag with Queen and Republic with some other clunky expression and get a simillar(ish) perspective.

In many countries the President is almost a purely ceremonial position i.e. Ireland and Germany

 

Cheers

 

Gareth

 

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Thanks Moggie, I was aware of some of those things but those are not really 'functions' as much as they are positions as figurehead...or am I wrong? But those ARE by agreement, right? It isn't as if she merely 'took' those positions because she is Queen? Or did she?

Anyway, that wasn't my question. In short, I'm trying to understand why anyone would feel fondness for a monarch. Especially an absolute one.

 

Perhaps there is a sense of sentimentality for something that involves pageantry or some historical significance? Perhaps the relief of getting out from under a monarch leads to a fondness for them? Or perhaps it's nice to keep one around (and perhaps allow benign functions for them) to remind oneself of the alternative?

 

I'm trying not to focus on the UK although that is a good example. And if you can help me understand for your system that would at least be a start.

Then, perhaps I can refocus on cricket. ;)

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I am British and I too struggle with this. I am a devout republican (in the British sense, which generally but not exclusively tends to mean liberal/left politics) and want an elected head of state.

 

At a guess though I'd say it boils down to a number of things.

 

Firstly comfort. It's what we are used to. The monarch never causes us any aggrevation because she is strictly non political and is not allowed to express an opinion on pretty much anything.

 

Pomp and ceremony. The fact is that the population does like a good old fashioned parade and the monarch is kind of tied in with all of that. Republican though I am my work regularly takes me to Westminster and seeing the Household Cavalry on parade on Whitehall is frankly awesome (incidentally, and many non Brits often don't realise this, they are real soldiers, Household Cavalry are a light tank regiment).

 

Our one experiment with republicanism in the 17th century was a bit of a disaster with Oliver Cromwell turning out to be just as unpleasant as some of the absolute and absoluteish monarchs who preceded him.

 

Other than that I don't really get it either!

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Probably the closest thing we have to an absolute monarchy in the world today is the hereditary dictatorship in North Korea.

 

When it comes to pomp and circumstance, one does have to hand the prize to the Brits. They really know how to do it.

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There are still many absolute monarchs in the world, Saudi, the UAE, Lesothto.

 

To answer the question about function. In one respect those are "by right" The armed forces are Her Majesties, not the governments or the peoples. The judicary act in her name, criminal cases are "Regina vs....." not the people vs. In some ways you are right the Queen is a figurehead, laws are created by parliament. The Queen cannot enter the House of Commons.

Fondness for the monarch, well politicans by their nature are devisive, a non political figure head takes that division away, although not always.

I suspect that our Canadian friends might be able to better explain, athough it may be case of they keep the monarchy because you don't.

 

Cheers

 

Gareth

 

 

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As an aside, when I first saw this topic it appeared immediately below Merlyn's topic and I thought, "Oh brother, here we go again..."

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As for the UK, I find it quite odd too. As I watched the Gala for the Queen on TV recently, I thought, gee a huge amount of expense for a "figurehead", especially given the economic environment worldwide right now. But, I would agree that when it comes to pomp and circumstance, no one can quite match the British. I understand the fondness, its tied in with tradition and the UK's sense of patriotism. Much the same the flag, the republic, and Uncle Sam is in the USA. We loathe our politicans, but we are still extremely patriotic. I sense the Queen is an embodiment of patriotism for the UK. Love your country, but fear your government so to speak... she represents the country, not the governing government.

 

The place I find extremely odd is North Korea. I understand the wailing at Kim Jong Il's death as a sign of respect out of fear, but the absolute devotion shown is uncanny. I can only assume it has to do with multiple generations of indoctrination. If its all you've ever known, and its all your parents and grand-parents and great grandparents have known, then this type of devotion to your leader (even a tyrant leader that would let you starve while living the high life) is NORMAL to you. Why do people who grow up in an abusive household have a higher than normal chance of entering into an abusive relationship as an adult? Its what they know. Even though it hurts them, there is comfort in the familiarity of it.

 

I think this might be what the US and allies are running up against in Iraq and to a certain degree in Afgahnistan.

 

You have multiple generations that have grown up and are living under ruthless dictatorships. But, when presented with an opportunity for free choice, free will, freedom... some (not all but a good portion) do not know what to do with this freedom. For many, like a child without a parent to tell them what to do or think, it can be a very scary proposition. Much the same a westerner cannot fathom living in a dictatorship and would gladly choose death over loss of freedom. The newly freed people seek the security of a master because its what they know and feel comfortable with. This allows for warlords and infighting to control the populace and take over because its what they know.

 

If all you ever expirienced in your life was a ruthless dictator, but you figured out how to live under their rules and get by (or in some cases even thrive), how odd and out of place would you feel when someone was NOT directing you life for you?

 

My fear is that a good portion of the society in these two countries fall into this category. Which means they NEED someone to rule over them in order to feel secure in life. The dictator removed, either the "liberation" forces must remain to secure the peace, or there is endless infighting until a new totalitarian force pushes all others aside and takes over the role as ruler.

 

I've talked with many Marines and soldiers who have returned from multiple deployments and many express the idea that it seems the Iraqis and Afgahnis "Don't even want to be free." "We fight for them, and they won't even fight for themselves." etc...

 

If you've never tasted freedom, then a subjugated existence even if hard or unfair may be viewed as preferable. At least you know how to act and what to expect, instead of facing a steady barrage of the unknown everyday. Being ruled by a tyrant might be prefered so long as you know what rules to play by.

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I think too that people would rather be governed by their own and don't want foreign invaders telling them how they ought to live.

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Peregrinator, Donald Rumsfeld disagreed with you. On 20 February 2003, in response to a question by Jim Lehrer which asked if American troops would be welcomed by Iraqis, he replied, "There is no question but that they would be welcomed."

But I guess there's a tiny chance he might have been wrong about that.

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Every society has to have some method of selecting a figurehead. "Eldest child of the previous figurehead" or "guy who pulled a sword out of a rock" or "tarts in lakes handing out swords" don't seem like the best methods, but I'm not sure "Ivy League Grad Making the slickest promises" has worked very good the last few times on this side of the pond either.

 

 

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" Well in the US you elect your Head of State by electoral college, if I understand correctly then a President could in theory be elected by gaining enough electoral college votes despite not getting a majority vote of the people."

 

Actually, that happens. Bill Clinton was elected twice and never received a majority.

 

The Electoral College was originally designed as a group that would sit and select a President based on merits, not popularity. Judging from recent occupants of the White House, that might be a better idea!

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Actually, that happens. Bill Clinton was elected twice and never received a majority.

 

That is true, each time he was elected he received a plurality of the popular vote (i.e., more than any other candidate).

 

There has only been one occasion when a candidate has received a majority of the popular vote while losing the Presidential election. In the first case, Rutherford Hayes was elected while Samuel Tilden won the popular vote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1876

 

There is at least one other example of a candidate receiving a plurality of the popular vote while losing the Presidential election - Al Gore in 2000.

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