* take nothing for granted    
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2021

Who is Online

We have 60 guests and no members online

Article Index

 

 

So long has she reigned, that few among my friends and acquaintances, and none of the next generation, remember the death of King George VI. 

Had he a son of any age, for example instead of Margaret, then we would have had another King.

That's no longer the case. The succession was changed in 2015 by the British Parliament and, after a 2011 agreement, by the other 14 Parliaments of countries having the Windsor heirs as monarch, to accept daughters equally and to allow Roman Catholics (and those having other religions or none) as consorts. 

But it might surprise some that the current succession is not British at all.

The previous, line of succession, from the Tudors and Stewarts, was broken when Charles II (he who restored the monarchy) died in 1685 and his Roman Catholic brother ascended to the throne.

England was by then strongly Protestant and so outraged were the people, and thus the Parliament, at his attempts to reintroduce Roman Catholicism, that the Dutch William of Orange, the husband of Mary (daughter of James and initially second in the line of succession), was invited to invade and to depose James II, in the 'Glorious Revolution'.  William became William III of Britain and ruled along with Mary. 

In 1689 the Bill of Rights would provide that: henceforth the new monarch must rule with the consent of Parliament, and he or she is subject to a raft of constraints. Parliament thus removed the concept of absolute monarchy and put aside the medieval belief in the Divine Right of Kings.  According to this doctrine a king's soul, is created in Heaven by God, prior to conception, and is assigned to a ruler's mortal being at conception thus pre-anointing them to rule. Sometimes this divine authority only becomes apparent following the truly anointed one successfully sizing the crown from a pretender. This doctrine, that was held to be infallible as recently as Tsar Nicholas II in 1914, has made Christianity the bedfellow of totalitarian rulers, throughout Christendom, for over a thousand years and for a good part of that time likewise empowered the Bishops and the Pope.

As William and Mary had no children together, in 1701 Parliament enacted the Act of Settlement that requires that: the British monarch must be a descendant of the German Princess Sophia (the nearest Protestant heir to William of Orange), and be in communion with the Church of England. 

Again, it was the now ascendant Parliament that set this new law. These changes in belief went hand-in-hand with the Enlightenment and our growing awareness that the Earth in not the centre of the Universe. 

Constitutional monarchy thus evolved; and 'across the pond' the American Revolutionaries (Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams et al) would see no reason at all for this mystical inheritance of authority, no longer the preserve of God, and would decide on an elaborate (and flawed) method of electing their king. In the process, they would decide to rename 'him' their President (women were disenfranchised and effectively excluded).

In the meantime, the British Parliament continued to further constrain their monarch, who would soon have far less power that the US President. Thus by 1788, when Australia was settled by the British - some would say 'invaded' - the process was almost entirely in the hands of the British Parliament. 

The initial governors in the Australian colonies, who were otherwise autocratic rulers, could nevertheless be, and sometimes were, removed by appeals made by colonists to the Parliament in London. From 1840 onwards, the Australian colonists wrested increasing democratic rights from the British appointed governors. So, by 1864, New South Wales had a functioning Parliament. Following similar advances that had already been made in Canada.

So why has the hereditary Sovereign been retained, long after our National Parliament, together with the local Judiciary, became the only source of governance in Australia (and for that matter the Parliament is effectively all-powerful in the United Kingdom)?  Put simply, because, by much trial and error, it 'sort of' works. 

It was Churchill who remarked:

'Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.… '

 

During the past century, Australia, together with Canada and New Zealand, the United Kingdom and along with other similar constitutional monarchies like Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark, has demonstrably done better for its citizens, in terms of social support, health, education, longevity and lifestyle, than less effective systems of government. 

And as we said (at a referendum) during the reign of Good Queen Bess: 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'.   

You have no rights to post comments


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

China

 

 

I first visited China in November 1986.  I was representing the New South Wales Government on a multinational mission to our Sister State Guangdong.  My photo taken for the trip is still in the State archive [click here].  The theme was regional and small business development.  The group heard presentations from Chinese bureaucrats and visited a number of factories in rural and industrial areas in Southern China.  It was clear then that China was developing at a very fast rate economically. 

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

Recollections of 1963

 

 

 

A Pivotal Year

 

1963 was a pivotal year for me.  It was the year I completed High School and matriculated to University;  the year Bob Dylan became big in my life; and Beatlemania began; the year JFK was assassinated. 

The year had started with a mystery the Bogle-Chandler deaths in Lane Cove National Park in Sydney that confounded Australia. Then came Buddhist immolations and a CIA supported coup and regime change in South Vietnam that was both the beginning and the begining of the end for the US effort there. 

Suddenly the Great Train Robbery in Britain was headline news there and in Australia. One of the ringleaders, Ronnie Biggs was subsequently found in Australia but stayed one step of the authorities for many years.

The 'Space Race' was well underway with the USSR still holding their lead by putting Cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova into orbit for almost three days and returning her safely. The US was riven with inter-racial hostility and rioting. But the first nuclear test ban treaties were signed and Vatican 2 made early progress, the reforming Pope John 23 unfortunately dying midyear.

Towards year's end, on the 22nd of November, came the Kennedy assassination, the same day the terminally ill Aldous Huxley elected to put an end to it.

But for sex and scandal that year the Profumo Affair was unrivalled.

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

The Prospect of Eternal Life

 

 

 

To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream:
ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause:
… But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

[1]

 

 

 

 

When I first began to write about this subject, the idea that Hamlet’s fear was still current in today’s day and age seemed to me as bizarre as the fear of falling off the earth if you sail too far to the west.  And yet several people have identified the prospect of an 'undiscovered country from whose realm no traveller returns' as an important consideration when contemplating death.  This is, apparently, neither the rational existential desire to avoid annihilation; nor the animal imperative to keep living under any circumstances; but a fear of what lies beyond.

 

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright