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Thread: Rulers of the English Throne

  1. #1

    Default Rulers of the English Throne

    I've been thinking about the history of the English Throne and looked up the history on Wiki tonight fallowing all the way from King Offa in 774 to the current holder Queen Elizabeth II.

    Learned some interesting things such as I didn't think people lived that long in the 1600s but King Richard Cromwell died at 85 the oldest King so far. The youngest to asend to the Throne was King Edward VI at the age of 9; who later died of illness. Edward VI named Lady Jane Grey as his heir presumptive. Four days after his death, Jane was proclaimed queen. Nine days after the proclamation, Edward VI's Catholic half-sister Mary had managed to find sufficient support to ride into London in a triumphal procession on 19 July. Jane was executed in 1554, aged 16. Few historians consider her to have been a legitimate monarch.

    Sorry if this was a boring history lesson but I thought it was interesting. I also have a question for you. In today's society does the whole Royal Family mean anything anymore? I've heard that the Queen is just a figure head and that Parliament and the Prime minister hold all the power. However i've also heard that the Queen still has power to declare war anytime she chooses. Also I question what's going to happen when Elizabeth dies; Charles 61, Anne 59, Andrew 49, and Edward 45. I know that if she dies Charles takes over then i'm guessing it would go to his kids and if all of them die then it would go to Anna?

    Hope you enjoyed this post of my random thoughts and I think I did well for not having an English history leason.

  2. #2

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    Well, I definitely learned something today!
    Thanks for posting, Takashi

  3. #3

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    This stuff interests me as well. You see over the past 400 years the power of an English monarch has steadily decreased to little of nothing. That shows the overwhelming popularity of democracy and republic bitches! I acknowledge though that a monarch makes everything more meaningful. The coronation ceremonies are elaborate and decorative to the last detail. In America we just have the 2 for 1 special for head of state and head of government. Go simplicity!

  4. #4

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    I also learned today that Cromwell was a king :p

    No, seriously, England's/Great Britain's/United Kingdom's royal history is quite as interesting as the development of parliamentarism around those parts. What's so overwhelmingly strange is that, for most of its existence, the monarchy has been held by a proper English family for only like 300 years. The remaining of the time, you had a Norman dynasty, then a French (PlantagenÍts), then there's the York and the Tudors (the only two true English dynasties), then you have the Hannovers/Coburg-Gothas/Windsors, who, like their name says, are German. So yes, Elizabeth II is actually a German. And Prince Phillip... well... I won't throw in any accusation about him in here because, well... it's not appropriate, even as a joke.

    As for the OP's question, I'll answer from a Canadian/Quebecois perspective. In English Canada, I would have thought the Queen was an important symbol, but Prince Charles' recent visit in the country actually somewhat restarted the debate about monarchy in Canada. Rick Mercer, a well-known Canadian political commentator and "humourist", actually made one of it's "Rick's Rant" on his weekly CBC show "Rick Mercer Report" about how we should boot the monarchy out. The only problem is that it would require reopening the constitution and that Canada is not ready for that, as Quebec hasn't signed the current constitution. I won't enter in details into that though, as it's not the topic. But yeah, now Canada is pretty much divided about the monarchy. And Quebec? Overwhelmingly, we want to boot the monarchy out of the country, be it sovereignists or federalists. We feel that this is an icon of British colonisation that still remains and that Canada should have its own Head of State, and not share it with another country.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Takashi View Post
    Sorry if this was a boring history lesson but I thought it was interesting. I also have a question for you. In today's society does the whole Royal Family mean anything anymore? I've heard that the Queen is just a figure head and that Parliament and the Prime minister hold all the power. However i've also heard that the Queen still has power to declare war anytime she chooses.
    Technically the monarch retains quite a lot of powers. After an election, for example, the monarch nominates and asks a member of parliament to form a government - she can essentially choose the Prime Minister in theory. Of course, that's merely ceremonial now because she doesn't actually make a choice and instead asks the leader of the largest party as determined by the electorate. She also has the power to recall or dissolve parliament, force an election, and issue executive orders, as well as being the ceremonial head of the armed forces. The key is that she only does these things at the say-so of the elected government. Imagine the democratic structures you have in the US maintained as they are now, but when a decision or action is agreed upon by government it goes to someone else who only and always says 'yes' to it. That - as well as being a figurehead - is basically the Queen's role.

    It is her role because of established practise rather than formal decree though, as is the case with a great deal of the British Constitution and the Westminster model. It's obviously not a system that one would ever design now, but rather one that has developed organically over hundreds of years and we've have never had - bar Cromwell (of whom more later) - a point in time that engendered an opportunity to change it. It's a ridiculous, anachronistic and deeply flawed system on paper, but it is a stable system through practice. The Prime Minister is, in effect, the head of state and he makes all the decisions a head of state does. The argument so goes that uprooting a stable system to make what would essentially be cosmetic changes to an already functioning parliamentary democracy is needless and would cause unnecessary difficulty. Why bother creating another elected politician when we have a neutral and ceremonial figurehead to do that role, allowing parliament to govern?

    I, however, do abhor the fact that we don't have an elected head of state and would be very pleased to see the system changed. It's really just a quirk of the long history of these islands and would be extremely messy and difficult to change, but the monarch does have many technical powers that could theoretically be used. By convention she does not use them in any of the sixteen countries of which she is the head of state. Indeed, attempting to use them would result in a constitutional crisis that would bring an end to the monarchy, so there is informal balance there, but the powers are formally present.

    As Gladstone said, "The British constitution depends more boldly than any other on the good sense and good faith of those who work it.". That seems to me a very dangerous position to be in.



    Quote Originally Posted by Takashi View Post
    Also I question what's going to happen when Elizabeth dies; Charles 61, Anne 59, Andrew 49, and Edward 45. I know that if she dies Charles takes over then i'm guessing it would go to his kids and if all of them die then it would go to Anna?
    Charles is next up, then his sons William and Harry. If they died it wouldn't go to Anne because we still have a system of male-preference primogeniture; a son always comes before a daughter. Prince Andrew would become king.

    Catholics, incidentally, are still barred from the throne. Blame Henry VIII for that one.



    Quote Originally Posted by Oli44 View Post
    I also learned today that Cromwell was a king :p
    Indeed. Cromwell actually wasn't a king, at least not in name. He was offered the throne by parliament but declined it and instead ruled as the 'Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland' during the brief period when we were a protectorate rather than a monarchy. It made him head of state for life but wasn't intended to be a hereditary title and was designed to be more of a guardian or watchman over parliament rather than a dictatorial ruler.

    Of course, Cromwell didn't much like the decisions parliament made and so did govern much like a king. Indeed he did so in such brutal and bloody fashion that we swiftly returned to monarchy after his death. Bally shame, really; if Cromwell hadn't been the violent despot that he was it's quite possible that we would have become a republic.

  6. #6
    Peachy

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    I hold no particular interest in the English royal family, but my mom does. So I got her this book detailing every monarch from like the 16th century until today with all their quirks and all their relatives and stuff. I browsed through the book, looking at a few interesting chapters, but the general story of the whole royal family was too complicated for me to grasp. All I remember was Henry VIII separated England from the Catholic church in 1534 (around the time of Reformation elsewhere in Europe), and after that, there were a few battles between parts of the royal family with conflicting religions (Catholics vs. Protestants) and the Scots.
    Through all those weird relations, battles and whatever, England ended up passing the "Act of Settlement" in 1701, prohibiting Catholics access to the English throne. Ironically, the closest protestant relative was George I, who ruled the northern German regions of Braunschweig-LŁneburg and Hannover. So for the next 200 years, England's monarchs bore the official name "Hannover", then "Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha" for a brief interlude until they decided to change it to "Windsor" in 1917 when they were at war with Germany.
    Still, the fact remains that today's English monarchs are no less...German!

    In another irony of history Germany itself got rid of its royal family at the end of WWI and replaced it with a president. At first, the president wasn't much different from today's U.S. president with lots of powers. That system proved to be rather weak and left too much power in the hand of one man, giving rise to Hitler. So nowadays, our president has about as many powers as the Queen of England actually exercises (shaking hands with other heads of states, appointing ministers/secretaries or signing laws. He has no powers (can't even order anyone to clean the windows in his palace), but at least the president gets elected by parliament plus an equal number of common people.

    Peachy

  7. #7

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    [QUOTE=Jaiden;304397]Charles is next up, then his sons William and Harry. If they died it wouldn't go to Anne because we still have a system of male-preference primogeniture; a son always comes before a daughter. Prince Andrew would become king.

    Catholics, incidentally, are still barred from the throne. Blame Henry VIII for that one.

    Yes, I read that Anne is currently 10th in line for the Throne.

  8. #8

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    Still countin out for my Catholics but a Catholic monarch in England wouldn't be as significant as it was back in the 16th century. Nowadays, I can see that Catholicism vs. The Church of England is not that much of a political war as it used to be.

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