Tag Archives: republic

HARRY AND MEGHAN DOWN UNDER

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 16: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet a koala during a visit to Taronga Zoo on October 16, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

One of my earliest memories is of a trip with a friend and his father to the shore of the River Humber in England.   It was twilight and, along with thousands of other people, we tried to position ourselves comfortably on the rocks so that we could watch the famous yacht go by.

The yacht was the Royal Yacht Britannia.   On board were the Queen and Prince Philip who were returning from a royal tour.   Those tours were frequent back then – often to faraway places like Australia and New Zealand or one of the islands in the South Pacific.   I don’t remember where they were returning from on this evening, or why they were sailing up the River Humber.   I remember having a brief look through binoculars, but the yacht was just too far away.

There’s been hundreds of royal tours since then.   The latest in the news is actually the first tour of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, formerly known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, before their marriage five months ago.   They are now on an 18-day tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, during which they have 76 engagements.

The tour comes at an interesting time.   In five months time, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.   Almost fifty years ago, the country turned its back on the Commonwealth of former British territories; now, it hopes to revive the commercial and other ties it once had with these nations.

At the same time as the British are focused on Brexit, Australians are preparing for a plebiscite on the future of the monarchy in their country.   With an election next year, the Labor (socialist) party is planning an immediate vote on whether to turn the country into a republic, not a republic American style but one where the titular head of state will no longer be a monarch who lives 10,000 miles away, but an Australian figurehead likely chosen by parliament.   The American model is not likely to be adopted as it’s too expensive and politicians don’t like it as it’s too weak.   One member of the Australian parliament warned against adopting the US system lest they, too, have a President Trump!

Even republicans admit the change will lead to some confusion and political instability as 63 laws have to be changed, if the people vote for a republic.   Any change will also be more expensive.

Immediately prior to the arrival of the prince and duchess, the new Australian prime minister, Liberal (in Australia, that’s conservative) Scott Morrison, declared he is a monarchist and had the monarch’s portrait returned to the PM’s official office.   His expressed view is that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”   Australia’s founders chose to remain loyal to the Crown after achieving independence at the turn of the twentieth century.

Australia’s constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system has been the envy of the world. It has attracted immigrants from all over the world, mostly, in recent decades, from failed states that happen to be republics; it’s likely that most of these immigrants, not knowing the past, will vote for a republic, setting Australia on the path to yet another dysfunctional state run by politicians for politicians.

Before casting their vote, they would do well to watch the Australian documentary, “When the Queen came to town,” a record of the monarch’s first royal tour of Australia in 1954, with many interviews of those who remember the tour, in which 75% of Australians saw the monarch at least once.   She was the first reigning monarch to set foot in the country.   It was a highly successful visit.

After the queen returned to England, Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, wrote an article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, in which he wrote:

“It is a basic truth that for our Queen we have within us, sometimes unrealized until the moment of expression, the most profound and passionate feelings of loyalty and devotion.   It does not require much imagination to realize that when eight million people spontaneously pour out this feeling they are engaging in a great act of common allegiance and common joy which brings them closer together and is one of the most powerful elements converting them from a mass of individuals to a great cohesive nation.   In brief, the common devotion to the Throne is a part of the very cement of the whole social structure.”

WHAT DAMPENED THE ENTHUSIASM?

Britain’s entry into the EU, then the Common Market, on January 1st, 1973, contributed to the republican movement, as many Australians felt betrayed by the mother country, formerly their biggest trading partner.   In November of 1975, more people turned against the monarchy when the queen’s representative, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the socialist government of Gough Whitlam for financial improprieties.   As this dismissal was “in the name of the Queen,” it boosted republican feeling.

Australians gave the monarchy “the walkabout,” where members of the royal family walk amongst the people.  This was named after an aboriginal practice.   The term has caught on in the other constitutional monarchies, as well.    It’s a great way for the people to meet their sovereign and other members of her family; and for them to show that they care about local issues.   Politicians only show up at election time; Harry and Meghan are in Australia for the Invictus games and to promote growing concerns about mental health.

Wikipedia has this to say about the Games, which are now being held in Sydney:

“The Invictus Games is an international adaptive multi-sport event, created by Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick war veterans take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing.”

ROYAL MEMORIES

Even with binoculars, we didn’t get to see the Queen or Prince Philip sixty years ago, but I do remember the crowds and the excitement. One other memory from about the same time was of the Queen’s visit to my hometown of Grimsby, a town on the estuary of the Humber.   Again, crowds lined the street. I couldn’t see anything, but a man standing next to me offered to lift me up on his shoulders and my mother consented.   From that vantage point, I remember a couple of people across the road fainted and the Red Cross was called to revive them.   They were suffering from heat stroke (yes, even in England)!

I remember, too, that my father, a republican (not to be confused with Republicans in the US), complained that he could not drive his car through the center of town, where all the crowds were. Ironically, he got the best view of the monarch as she passed by.   It did not lead to his changing his mind on Britain’s constitutional arrangements.  Perhaps Prince Harry and Meghan’s visit will help change the minds of those Australians who are tempted to step into the unknown with a questionable and uncertain republic.

Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, together with a number of small islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific, share a cultural heritage.   A significant part of that heritage is the monarchy, which has provided each nation with a solid foundation and continuous, peaceful political and economic development.   A change in the political system will mean a diversion from that heritage.   First, abolish the monarchy, then change the flag, then something else until Australia becomes just another Asian republic – the kind of republic that new Australians have recently fled from!

Note the following from this week’s Spectator:

“Whether it was intended so or not, the decision by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to choose Australia as the place to announce that they are expecting their first child was a public relations triumph. For years the royal family was criticised for having a tin ear when it came to reading and dealing with the public, but no one could say this now.   The tone of the younger royals’ tour to the southern hemisphere has been one of approachability, without compromising the dignity of the positions which Harry and Meghan hold.

“Their visit also runs counter to the conventional wisdom of some republicans — in Britain as well as Australia — that support for the monarchy is dependent on personal affection for the Queen and that the institution will be doomed upon her death.   Now that Elizabeth II is, for reasons of age, no longer able to conduct long-haul tours, her grandchildren have achieved what her children never quite managed: to show that they have the ability to follow on and capture the support of the public where she leaves off.”  (The Spectator, 19th October).

As the prime minister recently said: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

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DEATH OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI

The famous Washington Post columnist was brutally tortured and murdered in the Embassy of Saudi Arabia on October 2nd.   What happened to him was reprehensible.   It‘s not the first time that an Arab government has killed a critic.   At the same time, we should also remember that Mr. Khashoggi was no friend of the West.   His support of the Muslim Brotherhood and his close friendship with Osama bin Laden both illustrate this. 

Khashoggi was a political Islamist to the end.   He did not believe in secularism.   He wanted an alliance of Islamic democratic states. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily.   But it is relevant and worth saying, as it helps explain the dynamic by which he found himself on the wrong side of the Saudi regime.”   (Freddie Gray, The Spectator, 19th October)

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700, 000 PROTEST OVER BREXIT

A huge demonstration took place in London on Saturday, calling for a second referendum on Brexit.   They oppose the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, scheduled for March 29th, five months from now.

Referenda in the EU has often followed this path.   A vote is taken on an issue, and when the result is not to the liking of the EU, a second referendum will be called for.   Whereas the demand sounds reasonable, it could lead to further division in the United Kingdom, already seriously divided as it is.

Those who want to Remain in the EU have concerns about leaving the world’s biggest trading bloc.

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WHAT MULTICULTURALISM HIDES

  • If we bring in highly qualified immigrants to our workforce, we would be taking away from poorer countries the best they have to offer, and the situation in those countries will further deteriorate.   The result will be an even greater flow of unskilled migrants escaping those countries.
  • The proponents of the new multiculturalism want to share their welfare states with masses of refugees who — through no fault of their own — will be unable to participate in financing themselves for a long time to come.

(Jan Keller, a Czech, writing for Gatestone Institute, 16th October)

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RESPONSE ON MULTICULTURALISM

Following a comment to my last blog this morning, here is my response:

Multiculturalism was a term first coined by a Royal Commission in Canada in 1971.   It was an attempt to show Canadians a way forward following a significant number of immigrants arriving from Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia, peoples of different cultures from the dominant culture of Canada.   The policy was adopted by Canada and then other western nations.   It has not worked well and will lead to further problems ahead.

Jesus Christ prophesied that, at the time of the end, “Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7).   The word “nation” comes from the Greek word “ethnos,” from which we get the word “ethnic.”   Ethnic conflict will be common at the end time.   Indeed, it is already, arguably, the biggest cause of conflict around the world.

While we sing “O God of every nation,” and all nations are descended from Noah’s sons, we should also remember the following words spoken by the Apostle Paul, from Acts 17:26:

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”   God set the boundaries;  man (mainly western man) is behind mixing, which is the opposite.

We see many problems with multiculturalism.   Tolerance is required for it to work, but this  is sadly lacking in some groups.   Rising conflict in many nations is leading to the rise of populist movements that want to preserve one culture over others.   None of this means that any race is superior to another.   People simply want to preserve their own cultural heritage.   Some cultures are just not compatible.    Comments I have made on the threats from immigration are based on this reality  — that the mixing is going to lead to negative consequences.  It is not meant to imply that any race is superior.

The Apostle Peter said that:   “God is no respecter of persons”   (Acts 10:34)

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CARAVAN PUTS IMMIGRATION BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT, IN TIME FOR MIDTERMS

“As 4,000 Honduran migrants push north toward the US, President Trump sees an opportunity to help Republicans hang on to the House in the midterm elections.” (Axios, 20th October).

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IN RETROSPECT — OF INTEREST TO THE WCG DIASPORA

“Throughout this study two related concepts have been mentioned repeatedly:   authority and government/governance.   We have seen Herbert W. Armstrong imposing his authority, diminishing his son’s authority.   Having his authority challenged, using his authority to change long-held doctrines, and being accused of authoritarianism.   We have seen Joseph W. Tkach and Joe Jr. making use of the strong ethos of obedience to top-down authority in the Worldwide Church of God to revolutionize its teachings, thus precipitating the three major schismatic moves of 1989, 1992-3, and 1995.   We have seen various attitudes to authority in the offshoot churches, from the hardline position of Philadelphia, Restored, and others to the more liberal attitudes found in United and its smaller offshoots and in the GTA group of churches.

“As for church government or governance, for some churches in the Worldwide family this is a crucial part of their beliefs; differing attitudes to governance are a major distinguishing factor between the hardline and the more liberal churches.”   (“Authority in the Churches of God,” chapter 7 of “The Fragmentation of a Sect,” by David V Barrett, 2013, Oxford University Press.)

Philippians 2:12  – “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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REPUBLICS DIVIDED

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The Royalist Party of America (yes, there is one) is on to something.

They want the United States of America to rejoin the Commonwealth and recognize Queen Elizabeth as Head of State.  Something like Canada.  Canada is a democracy but its Head of State is not elected.  The Queen is a unifying figure above politics.

But that’s not what they are on to.

If you look at their Face Book page, you will see that they are worried about the state of this republic.  They point out that, historically, republics do not last very long.  Eventually, republics become terribly divided between two factions.  Using an analogy with marriage, eventually the two sides exhibit “irreconcilable differences” and divorce is inevitable.  When that happens, democracy is in danger and dictatorship looms.

Witness Rome 2,000 years ago; more recently, the Weimar Republic in the 1920’s.  Or any African republic in the last 50 years.

(For clarity, it should be pointed out that, outside of the United States, a republic is simply a country with a president rather than a king.)

The United States is very divided between what you might call the traditionalists and those who wish to take the country on a different, more secular, path.  In other words, Republicans and Democrats.

But it’s not just America.

Ukraine is a republic that seems on the verge of civil war.  Again, there are two factions.

Roughly half the country wants to strengthen ties with Russia, the country that ruled them for two centuries.  The Russians, led by Vladimir Putin, are certainly in favor of this, willing to spend billions propping up the Ukrainian economy.  There’s a sentimental attachment with Ukraine, as Russia owes its origins to the Kievan Rus who embraced Christianity in the latter years of the tenth century.

But the people in the western half of the country want links with the European Union, which has done so much to develop other former communist countries and to strengthen their democratic institutions.  Russian democracy is an oxymoron.

The latter have been demonstrating for over two months now.  The pro-Russian police force has been too heavy handed, killing some protesters, Russian style.

In a sense, this is part of the ongoing historical struggle between Germany and Russia.

The two countries have fought over Ukraine a number of times in the last hundred years, notably in both world wars.  This time, they are not using tanks or planes.  The battle this time is economic.  The EU is the world’s biggest trading bloc and can offer Ukraine a great deal.  It’s also a champion of human rights and basic freedoms, which new members are required to embrace.  This is in stark contrast to Russia’s shortcomings in these areas.

It’s going to be interesting to see the outcome of this struggle.

France is another republic in danger of falling apart, rather like the new president’s marriage (or, rather, non-marriage as the couple never actually tied the knot).

News sources have revealed that France is the latest subject of concern for the British and German leaders, who are concerned the Fifth Republic may collapse.  As this is the “fifth” Republic, it should be remembered that the country has tried a number of different constitutions since the overthrow of the ancien regime in 1789.  Not only have they tried five republics, there were brief periods of monarchy, dictatorship and foreign control in between.  France has, arguably, been the most unstable country in western Europe during the last two centuries.

President Hollande is not helping, with economic policies that are only making austerity worse.  A 75% tax on the wealthy is only going to drive money away (easy when France shares the euro with all its neighbors!).  Other socialist measures will also make things worse but Hollande is a socialist and has to answer to pressure from his support base, so change is not likely.  Without change, collapse is increasingly likely.  Germany may have bailed out Greece and other smaller members of the eurozone, but cannot bail out France, the fifth biggest economy in the world.

And, if France falls, chaos in Africa will only increase.

Last year, M. Hollande, to his credit, sent French troops into two African republics, both violently divided between Muslims and Christians.  The two nations, Mali and Central African Republic, are both former French colonies.  While things have stabilized for now, a French withdrawal could easily lead to fighting flaring up again.  Terrible acts of depravity have taken place, including cannibalism.  France’s colonial role was often described as a “mission to civilize” – hopefully they can restore a veneer of civilization to these two nations whose people have suffered so much.

Sadly, France’s military missions cost money, which only exacerbates the problems at home.  Reuters reported today that Germany wants to help support France’s military missions in Africa.  In contrast to the 1920’s, Germany today seems a model republic – the two main parties of left and right are cooperating and have formed a coalition government.  It’s hard to imagine such a development in the United States.

Back to the new Royalist Party of America.  Their Face Book page quotes from “Democracy Watch,” an international organization that monitors developments around the world.  A recent report showed that the seven most democratic countries in the world are all constitutional monarchies, including Canada, Australia, and Norway.

The Economist magazine has long described the US as a “corporate democracy,” with a government that is unduly influenced by corporations and where the people have little or no say.  It hasn’t always been that way but it has become so.

That’s certainly something to think about.

But lest those in the constitutional monarchies get too smug, it is clear that they also have their divisions.  And, if the American republic falls, it’s unlikely they would survive!

CHANGING OF THE GUARD IN HOLLAND

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At first glance, the fact that Holland’s Queen Beatrix has abdicated in favor of her son, Prince (now King) Willem-Alexander, may seem insignificant.  After all, the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy where political power rests with the elected government, while the Head of State is purely a figurehead, with no real power.

History shows it’s not as simple as that.

The constitutional monarchies of NW Europe have been the most stable countries in the world since the middle of the 19th century.

These nations are:  the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom.  The latter has had a stable political system since 1689.

They are as democratic as the United States but avoided the upheavals of neighboring republics, particularly Germany and France.  Both of these countries have had checkered histories.  In the middle of the nineteenth century Germany was many countries, which were finally united under a Prussian monarch following wars with Austria and then France.  Just over 40 years later, World War I led to the demise of the German Empire, to the instability and economic disasters of the Weimar Republic, to Hitler and then division between East and West.

France was even more unstable historically.  Following the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy in 1789, the country had 25 years of turmoil and war, including a brief period as a republic.  After Napoleon’s Empire, the Bourbons were restored in 1815 but overthrown again fifteen years later.  There then followed another monarchy until 1848, the year of revolution across Europe.  A second republic followed for four years, then a second Napoleonic Empire, then war with Prussia in 1870-71, the fall of Napoleon III, who was replaced by the Third Republic, which lasted from 1871-1940, almost seventy years.  Hitler’s invasion of France led to the establishment of Vichy France (a part of France whose leader cooperated with the Germans); after which came the Fourth Republic.  In 1958, that was replaced by the Fifth Republic, which is still in operation, though there has been talk of its imminent collapse.

If you found that list rather exhausting, realize that all this happened during the same period the United States has been a republic.   Though it has to be said that the American republic did have one big upheaval, the Civil War of 1861-65.  Since then, the US has enjoyed a stable political system, rare for a republican form of government.

Clearly, when you consider Germany and France, you can see real advantages in the system of constitutional monarchy, which has enabled so many countries to have political stability, except when invaded by Germany in the world wars.

Constitutional monarchy also makes dictatorship far less likely.  When the office of head of state is by birth alone, nobody else can have it.  This is just as well as elected prime ministers under a parliamentary system are very powerful – they can do anything they want if they have the backing of a majority in parliament.  A prime minister is more powerful within his own country than the US president.  The monarchy acts as an effective buffer against prime ministerial power.

Constitutional monarchy is also cheap.  The annual cost to the British taxpayer is $87 million, compared to a $1.4 billion tag that goes with the American presidency.   Even the $87 million cost in the UK is deceptive.  The cost is more than offset by entrance fees to the royal palaces, money that goes straight to the Treasury.  Additionally, money the queen receives for her constitutional role is actually revenue the government receives from the Crown Estates.  The government, in effect, is giving her back her own money – and they only give back 15%!

Other nations that remain loyal to the crown, notably Canada, Australia and New Zealand, benefit even more as there is no cost to them except when the monarch visits.

An additional benefit to all the countries named is that the monarch is a unifying figure who remains above politics.  Any monarch (or family member) who expresses a political opinion risks dividing the country over which they preside.  It would be very unwise and could prove fatal, leading to revolution or civil war.

Meanwhile, the monarchs are kept extremely busy in their respective roles.  The 87-year-old British monarch takes on more engagements each year than the US president.   So do other members of her family.  The other monarchs play a similar role.

Holland is unusual in that it has become tradition for an elderly monarch to retire.  This is not the case in other European nations.

Finally, a sovereign is a guarantor of sovereignty.  As long as The Netherlands has a monarch, a European super state under one federal authority remains problematic.  At a time of strengthening European unity, these monarchs are the greatest guarantee of their country’s continued existence.

The grand hand-over ceremony and celebrations marking Queen Beatrix’s abdication and her son’s swearing in may not seem very important but Holland is one country that is so stable the rest of the world doesn’t have to worry about it.