The Smiths were wrong and the Sex Pistols were right: the Queen is most definitely not dead. In fact, she has now reigned longer than any other on that sceptered isle of Great Britain, beating her grandmother Victora’s 63-years-and-216-day stretch on the throne. Of the world’s current monarchs, only Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) of Thailand has a longer reign (69 years). There will be pomp and circumstance in Britain on Sept. 9, as many celebrate this “achievement,” but this is no cause to celebrate for the 10 million Britons who would prefer to live in a republic rather than a constitutional halfway house. “Hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle,” writes the lobby group, Republic, on its website. “Because we can’t hold the Queen and her family to account at the ballot box, there’s nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence or simply wasting our money.” Two great British bands, but who was right on the queen? The Smiths (L) or the Sex Pistols? | Photos: Wikipedia/commons Despite Republic’s good logic (see box) to scrap the monarchy, the public is still largely behind the ancient institution. For over 20 years, Ipsos Mori polls have consistently found the support for a republic to be around 20 percent. Despite this, Republic argues, 20 percent is still around 10 million adults, “A minority, yes, but a substantial one – especially given the poor level of debate about the monarchy.” Queen Bee There is an angle Republic only touches on briefly that may be one of the best reasons to boot out the Windsors forever: empire and the U.K.’s lingering colonialism, much of which centers not on the houses of Commons or Lords in London, but on the royal Commonwealth institution. A whopping 16 countries, including the U.K., recognize Lizzie as their head of state, using the snappy title of, “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of (insert country name here) and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.” Sure, Elizabeth’s realms and territories have slimmed down somewhat from the height of her grandmother and father’s brutal reigns: All areas of the world that were ever part of the British Empire. Current British Overseas Territories have their names underlined in red. | Photo: The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick / Wikipedia A commonly used meme
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But the 16 countries she clings on to as head of state, along with the 14 overseas territories the U.K. is responsible for in terms of security, foreign affairs and defense-related matters, still represents one of the world’s most powerful modern-day empires. Of the U.N. Decolonization Committee’s 17 non-self-governing territories, the U.K. owns 10. But colonial enclaves aside, today, many erstwhile sovereign nations are usually referred to as part of a friendly sounding “Commonwealth,” which the royal website calls a “remarkable international organization,” proudly espousing that it spans “every geographical region, religion and culture.” Like the U.N. then, except not quite as democratically acceded to, “It exists to foster international co-operation and trade links between people all over the world.” RELATED: The Malvinas Islands: A Colonial Enclave in Latin America The Commonwealth includes many former colonies that chose, at one point or another, to remain affiliated with their former master: “Many of the members of the Commonwealth were territories which had historically come under British rule at various times by settlement, conquest or cession … Whichever form their constitution takes, member countries all recognize The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth.” Sounds cozy, doesn't it? For Queen Elizabeth, it must be a bit of fun, like having a personal encyclopedia, or personal Guinness world records: The largest member of the Commonwealth is Canada, at nearly 10 million square kilometers. The most populous Commonwealth country is India, with nearly 1.1 billion people. The smallest member is Nauru, with only 13,000 inhabitants. The Commonwealth also includes the world's driest and most sparsely populated country: Namibia. (from the Commonwealth website) Republic informs that the Commonwealth, which is presented as pretty innocuous, actually holds more power than we may think. “Prince Charles will not automatically succeed the Queen as head of the Commonwealth. Contrary to popular belief, the position of head of the commonwealth - currently held by the Queen - is not hereditary and will not automatically pass to Prince Charles. When the Queen dies, the choice of the next head will be made collectively by commonwealth leaders.” This may, at first, seem more democratic than going by bloodlines, but worryingly, a 2009 Yougov poll found that “fewer than one in four commonwealth citizens wanted Prince Charles to succeed the Queen as their head,” Republic’s website says. Who knows why, as membership of the Commonwealth is supposedly voluntary — “any member can withdraw at any time,” says its website, yet just three countries have completely severed ties with the body: the Republic of Ireland in 1949, Zimbabwe in 2003 and The Gambia in 2013. More may follow, however. It was reported this year that Barbados’s prime minister is getting increasingly uncomfortable pledging allegiance to a ruler who has not visited the former colony in 26 years, and plans to leave the Commonwealth soon. Queen of The World: Did you know? Elizabeth may most commonly referred to as the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but she could just as easily be referred to as one of her other official titles: Queen of Antigua and Barbuda Queen of Australia Queen of The Bahamas Queen of Barbados Queen of Belize Queen of Canada Queen of Grenada Queen of Jamaica Queen of New Zealand Queen of Papua New Guinea Queen of St. Christopher and Nevis Queen of St. Lucia Queen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Queen of Solomon Islands Queen of Tuvalu
God Save the Queen? “Leave her alone!,” her proponents argue. She is simply a figurehead, she’s good for tourism! The monarchy’s a lovable institution that makes Britons what they are, adds to their quirkiness, no harm done: she’s just a little old lady! But is she? Republic presents a pretty scary list of reasons why she and her family are a little more influential than people think: Some of Republic.org.uk’s reasons to kick the addiction to the royal family: “The monarchy gives politicians enormous power ... as it means the prime minister has much more power than he or she would in a republic ... Because Britain hasn't fully made the transition from absolute monarchy to a democracy yet.” “Prince Charles routinely lobbies government ministers,” what he is less keen to reveal is that his lobbying is “a direct breach of the constitutional boundaries on which our current system of politics relies.” “The Queen and Prince Charles can veto bills that affect their interests … Before parliament can debate a bill that's likely to affect the ‘hereditary revenues, personal property or other interests’ of either the Queen or Prince Charles (in his role as Duke of Cornwall), their explicit permission must be obtained. Whitehall papers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to this process, known as ‘Queen's consent’ or ‘Prince's consent.’” “The monarchy is the only public body to enjoy a total exemption from the Freedom of Information Act. That means that members of the royal family - unlike politicians and civil servants - can carry out their roles in almost total secrecy.” Similarly, “The royals refuse to give interviews.” “Taxpayers foot the bill for personal travel because royals are ‘always on duty.’ Similarly, local people are regularly forced to pay for a range of costs (relating to royal visits) including staff planning time, policing, road closures, renovation, cleaning, food and drink, photography, floral decorations and flags.” “The total cost of the monarchy is more than US$300 million every year … That's more than five times the official cost, which excludes all kinds of hidden expenditure such as security.” Additionally, if there were a political crisis, the queen’s languishing power can just about be used to oust undesirable rulers. In 1975, she played a controversial role in Australia’s incident known as “the dismissal,” when a leftist leader was given marching orders by the queen’s governor-general, and replaced by a conservative. And if wealth is power, and we all know it is, this little old lady has been steadily increasing the Crown Estate’s value throughout her reign, it was recently reported, to reach a record-high net annual profit for 2015 of 285.1 million pounds (US$435.6 million). And this does not include her private wealth, which remains unknown. The Sunday Times say she has a private investment portfolio, consisting largely of shares in leading British companies, valued at 110 million pounds (US$168 million), as well as various privately held properties. Lizzie received her millions of pounds and people thanks to lucky genetics, and will not let go of them just to be honorable. She believes God put her where she is — or at least understands that that’s the best excuse she has available. ather than God saving the queen, perhaps he or she could take heed of the third (less well known) verse of the national anthem, which reads like a cry for help from the people of the Commonwealth: Of many a race and birth From utmost ends of earth God save us all!
---“A long reign is a reason for reform, not celebration,” says U.K. lobby group Republic. Some 10 million Britons would prefer to #StopTheReign and live in a republic.--- ...