Oh dear. What do they say: the road to hell as being paved with good intentions. Maybe that’s a bit extreme. It’s not necessarily “hell” that I’m talking about here but something that does the opposite of what’s intended. I can image the planning meeting where someone pipes up – I’ve got an idea.
Swearing allegiance to the King might sit well in a Hollywood movie of knights in armour and English castles standing proud against the green, green countryside. In the 21st century it sounds quaint and patronising to say the least. Strange vestiges of the historic riddle of our constitution.
The public is being asked to swear allegiance at the King’s coronation. These words are proposed: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law…….”
Now, I know that Members of Parliament (MPs) must swear a similar allegiance before taking their seat in Parliament. MPs cannot take their seat, speak in debates, vote, or receive a salary until taking an oath or affirmation. For them it’s more about being elected lawmakers than allegiance to a single person. It would make much more sense if they swore an oath to the British Constitution but there lies the problem.
Such quintessentially British activities hark back to a day when everyone knew the rules of cricket, knew their place and, as John Major once put it in his failed Back to Basics campaign, old values. In 1953, the time of the last crowning, Britain was a deferential society, now it’s not.
The question is – should a “modern” constitutional monarchy be asking for allegiance in this public way whilst knowing that most the population will ignore the whole exercise? Not only that but a considerable number of people will think the exercise utterly ridiculous.
There’s not so many large counties in the world where subjects are asked to swear an oath to an unelected head of state and his dysfunctional family. That’s a family that has filled the media with unhappy stories for years. It gets stranger and stranger depending on how you look at it.
It’s not what you might call democracy or meritocracy in the normal sense, it’s more of a ritual of imperial legacy. In this green and pleasant land some people think this is a fantastic advertisement for our great nation across the world. I disagree.
British Citizens have a proud allegiance to their country, but this is to one man and his whole family. Now, that is peculiar. It’s feudal. Sadly, to point out the obvious just gets branded as anti-monarchist.