Monday, June 2, 2008

Today is Republic Day

Back in March, I listed the English royal succession, pointing out that Miss Zenouska Mowatt was only 40 little accidents away from becoming Queen Zenouska.

Today being Republic Day, I thought I would check whether anything has changed. And hallelujah, one of those little accidents has happened! The Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor, previously holding position 25, has apparently become a Roman Catholic, thus renouncing her already distant claim to the throne, pulling Miss Zenouska up to position 39.

The new Number 40, the one below Zenouska, is the Earl of Harewood, descendant of the Lascelles family who made their fortune in the West Indies through customs positions and the slave trade. That was in the late eighteenth century of course, when slavery was seen as a Good Thing.

I went back to the Royal website, to check once again what they contribute, and I couldn't find a single thing that couldn't be done as well or better by an elected president, a vice president or a former president (like the USA's President Carter), someone who had been chosen by the people.

Change can happen! The new government in Nepal has declared a Republic and asked the deposed king to hand over the keys of his palace so that it can be turned into a museum. No doubt there will be some conflicts and even violence before it settles down, but the major change has happened.

And closer to home we have the example of the Republic of Ireland. Until 1948 King George VI still had the title of King of Ireland, and it was unclear who was really the head of state - the English hereditary monarch or the democratically elected President of Ireland. This was settled in the Republic of Ireland Act in 1948, and Ireland formally became a Republic on 18 April 1949, the thirty third anniversary of the the Proclamation of the original Irish Republic.

It is only a small thing, I suppose, but my deep Irish roots tingle with pride when I see the President of Ireland, Mary MacAleese, like her predecessor Mary Robinson, walking out to meet the players at an international rugby match. What a comparison to the fusty, dusty, ceremonial encrusted Mountbatten-Windsors and their hangers-on.

Time for a Republic here too. But as it will replace the so-called "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", what on earth are we going to call it?!