Sunday, May 22, 2011

Will the Duke of Cambridge ever be crowned King?

There is a certain irony that as the Government prepares to abolish hereditary peers of the realm, the Queen bestows a dukedom – the highest rank in the British peerage – upon Prince William. Such honorifics are, of course, the traditional gift of the Monarch to his or her direct descendents, especially on the occasion of their wedding. Prince Charles, the Queen’s firstborn and immediate Heir to the Throne, was gifted the Principality of Wales (which is quite a sizeable chunk of the UK); Prince Andrew got York (a pretty city with lots of history); Prince Edward got Wessex (a fairytale place most recently made popular by Thomas Hardy); Princess Anne simply became the Princess Royal (no territorial title at all). There’s probably a discrimination and equality issue there for Nick Clegg to sort out when he’s managed to get a first-born female Roman Catholic on the Throne.

Prince William of Wales is now also Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. It is a truly United Kingdom conferral, combining his Welsh princedom with an English Dukedom, a Scottish earldom and an Irish Viscountcy. King William V (DV) will be a truly Unionist monarch.

The title is an interesting choice at the present time, not least because of its Stuart inception. Having rejected all proposals to reform the Act of Settlement 1701, Her Majesty appears to be engaged in a little bridge-building with those of her Roman Catholic subjects who are irritated or outraged by this bigotry (which is closer to about 34 than the oft-quoted five million, and 15 of those probably work at The Daily Telegraph).

The Dukedom of Cambridge is not a peerage with a happy heritage: it was first conferred in 1664 when the Roman Catholic James Stuart was granted the title (as distinct from the Earldom). He died at the age of four. The title was then conferred upon Edgar Stuart, but he died at the age of three in 1671. Charles Stuart was styled Duke of Cambridge at his birth in 1677, but he died at just a month old.

The Dukedom then passed to the Protestant Hanovers. In 1714 George I became the first monarch to accede to the British throne as a direct consequence of the Act of Settlement: some 56 Roman Catholics bore closer blood ties to the deceased Queen Anne, but the Act demanded the nearest blood-related Protestant descendent of Sophia. This was long before the days when royalty changed their religion in order keep their place in the royal line of succession. Tory-minded Jacobites famously attempted to depose King George I and replace him with the Catholic James Stuart, but Whig ascendancy ensured their failure. This Duke of Cambridge spoke little English and was considered ‘dull and awkward’.

When George II ascended the throne in 1727, he was already Duke of Cambridge. He had numerous family problems and contended all his life with domestic tensions and foreign conflict. The title was next given to Prince Adolphus, the seventh son of George III, in 1801. His son was the last Duke and (like Prince William) married a commoner for love. However, the union was never recognised by the Sovereign. The title became extinct in 1904 owing to the lack of an heir. Cambridge reappeared as a Marquessate 1917 and then became extinct in 1981, again owing to no issue.

As the country now has a new Duke of Cambridge (with a most appreciable Duchess), one has to wonder if this one will fare any happier than his predecessors. With every political party now committed to the establishment of a ‘modern democracy’, it is evident, as David Cameron has said, that ‘those who make the laws of the land should be elected by those to whom those laws apply’. He would doubtless say of the Monarchy, as he said of the House of Lords, that the institution has ‘served the country with distinction’ and ‘performs its work well but lacks sufficient democratic authority’. It is hard to see the argument for an hereditary head of state if the principle upon which it is founded is antithetical to that which is important in a ‘modern democracy’. The present Queen has been exemplary, and her personal popularity has sustained the Monarchy through an era of considerable social revolution. But Charles, as King George VII with Queen Camilla at his side, is likely to diminish respect for the institution, especially if he persists with his demand to be ‘Defender of Faith’ and continues to meddle in political contentions.

Regicide is, of course, nothing new to the English, though doubtless in the 21st century it would be done with a little more compassion than it was in 1649. Whether the Duke of Cambridge is King in 2149 remains to be seen. But it is not likely if even the Conservative Party is no longer prepared to make the case for the principle of heredity. Like the Israelites, the British people may ask for a king, but the reverential era of the ‘great and the good’ is fading; a spirit of political revolution is stirring. As Charles I was executed, Milton wrote The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, in which he observed that a Christian king is the servant of the people: ‘But a king will either be no Christian at all, or will be the slave of all. If he clearly wants to be master, he cannot at the same time be Christian.’ King and governors are appointed by God to punish wrong-doers and praise those who act well, which is the will of God. Since monarchy and government are human institutions, both are corruptible, and if they should become destructive it is for ‘free men’ (1Pet 2:16) to remove what is bad and appoint what is good and advantageous for society.

Disraeli said: ‘I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad. I seek to preserve property and to respect order, and I equally decry the appeal to the passions of the many or the prejudices of the few.’

If hereditary peers have really ‘served the country with distinction’ and the House of Lords has truly ‘performed its work well’, is it not the task and constitutional raison d’être of the Conservative Party to contend for the hereditary principle because it is seen to be good? If they will not, it is not likely, come the 500th anniversary of the execution of Charles I in 2049, that we will still possess an hereditary Monarchy with constitutional power and political authority. And Prince William will be but another unhappy Duke of Cambridge in a long line of ill-fated royals to have held that title.


Blogger DanJ0 said...

Well, if hereditary monarchs are here to stay then at least the Duchess of Cambridge is likely to bring in some fresh DNA to that rather small pool.

22 May 2011 at 10:39  
Blogger Nicholas Whyte said...

Lord Frederick Cambridge, who might have inherited the Marquessate had he lived, was killed in action in the second world war and is buried in the next village to mine.

22 May 2011 at 10:40  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Rev. R W Morgan was an excellent writer in challenging the Roman Church in Britain.

Even Bede recorded the struggle between true British Christianity against the Papacy.

I sometimes question myself the survival of Hanover in Britain.

This lineage seem to have forgetten Brans head burried at Lugate warding off Continental invaders.

22 May 2011 at 10:41  
Blogger cornubian said...

Prince Charles, the Queen’s firstborn and immediate Heir to the Throne, was gifted the Principality of Wales (which is quite a sizeable chunk of the UK)

In fact the title of Prince of Wales is just honorific and has very little constitutional significance. Equally the principality is not all of Wales.

Of far more constitutional significance is the Duchy of Cornwall. The heir apparent to the thrown is always Duke of Cornwall while he waits. Being Duke actually confers quite a lot of power.

Read more here from solicitor and Cornish law expert John Kirkhope: The Duchy of Cornwall - a very peculiar private estate:

22 May 2011 at 10:43  
Anonymous Tarka the Rotter said...

If I understand correctly, the government is seeking to remove the hereditary element from the legislature but not to abolish hereditary titles. This means the old peerage would continue much in the same way as the Irish peerage did, i.e. with no right to sit in the House of Lords. Politicians love to fiddle with things, don't they?

22 May 2011 at 10:47  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

The parties can stick their 'Modern Democracy' where the sun doesn't shine!

22 May 2011 at 11:16  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"The parties can stick their 'Modern Democracy' where the sun doesn't shine!"


22 May 2011 at 11:20  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace, your post strays into the realms of superstition, an unseemly excursion for such an eminent churchman.

You make the mistake of assuming that the monarchy cannot survive without the aristocracy. Your communicant believes it can, despite the dismal prospect of HRH the Prince Charles and his frightful wife on the throne.

To illustrate your communicant's point, some questions.

Which of the Commonwealth countries that accept the Queen as their head of state has an aristocracy at the pinnancle of its political system? Which of the European bicycling monarchies (does not include Spain) has an aristocracy that exercises formal political power?

The answer to both questions is none.

It is possible for a nation to retain a monarch as head of state within a constitutional framework, particularly if the constitution is that of a parliamentary democracy.

By contrast, there is no room for a monarchy within the US Constitution where the President is himself an elected King. The US Presidency confers the role of head of state, chief minster and commander-in-chief of the military into a single person, a recipe for extreme political volatility. No wonder the framers of the US Constitution immediately shackled their President with as many checks and balances as they could think of.

A little innovative thinking is now required within the UK in order to remedy the folly of Blair's partial devolution.

The obvious place in which to look for precedents is the Commonwealth.

New Zealand can be discarded because it is unitary state without a second chamber. Which leads us to Australia and Canada, both retaining parliamentary democracies within a federal system where the monarch is head of state.

There is no reason why the UK could not reform itself as a federation, retaining both its parliamentary democracy and its highly successful monarch.

Remember Your Grace, the institution of the monarchy is greater than the monarch.

Nevertheless, may the longevity of the Queen protect us from her elder son!

22 May 2011 at 11:20  
Anonymous Jamess said...

Why is it that as a commoner I feel that my rights are more likely to be defended by the House of Lords than by the House of Commons?

22 May 2011 at 11:28  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Are they making these uniforms in euroland somewhere? The surfeit of scrambled egg is something awful - I noticed it at the Wedding, too.

As for the vile Clegg (also made in euroland) - the arrogance of his meddling is insupportable. It's as if he can just walk in, wave a wand, and declare himself king...

22 May 2011 at 12:11  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Your Grace you seem to be confusing our constitutional status with the true situation.

Which is that whatever a revised constitution states, The Queen of England will still be The Queen of England, and her offspring monarchs. The only way this can not continue to be the case is if the entire Royal family were murdered or otherwise completely destroyed.

France for example still has a King of France, whether many know it or not.

Those who wish to honor their monarch can still continue to do so. Royalty can still crown itself, and indulge in ceremony if they so wish, although likely more at their own expense.

Who knows they may even make a personal fortune from these kind of events, and would surely be most welcome in places like The USA on chat shows, and circuses like Celebrity Come Dancing.

I am not proposing such a thing, but simply stating facts.

The Queen of England is a very rich women in her own right. If her off-spring play their cards right they could become even more rich, as well as more overtly politically active, rather then ever more covertly so.

My problem is that the prospect of someone like Tony Blair or heaven forbid Gordon Brown ever becoming our head of state perfectly horrifies he.

After all our present monarch may be well past her sale by date, but she has not been caught picking her nose, and then EATING the result, in public to my knowledge. Or indeed lying through her teeth in order to invade other sovereign nations with murderously hostile intent.

22 May 2011 at 13:13  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

bluedog @ 22 May 2011 11:20

The US President is not an 'elected King.' Please spend some time with Messers Hamilton, Madison, and Jay to learn the difference.


22 May 2011 at 14:18  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

Atlas refers to the "Queen of England" three times. This is often said by those making some point or other about England. She is no longer styled "Queen of England", although England, as is Scotland, is a kingdom. She is styled, in part, as Queen of Great Britain.

I have no fear that William will not be king. I also feel it will not come about that the House of Lords will be reformed further than it is at present. New Labour had a thing about hereditary peers, probably because a lot of those peers saw through the fakeness of these self-promoting wretches.

92 hereditary peers can stand as a guardian for the people against the corrupt practices that often arise in the other place.

We need the House of Lords. We certainly don't need a senate of self-serving political toadies.

22 May 2011 at 14:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Whether the Duke of Cambridge is king in 2149 remains to be seen".
Crikey, Cranmer, the House of Windsor is known for longevity, but 167 would be pushing it a bit.
Edward Sutherland.

22 May 2011 at 15:03  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Jamess said... "Why is it that as a commoner I feel that my rights are more likely to be defended by the House of Lords than by the House of Commons?"

Exactly, we do not need a House of Commons. That was the argument of the Commoners when when they rose up in Chaucers day.

They were not against their King but preferred a more direct relations between King and Commoner, as was the way before the Norman Conquest.

22 May 2011 at 15:07  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Arden Forester : 14:19

My view entirely! Don't mend what ain't broken; and certainly don't change anything as a mere sop to the ego of a failed politician. Any Cleggite reform of the Lords must be defeated!

22 May 2011 at 15:13  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Edward Sutherland,


Corrected. Bless you.

22 May 2011 at 15:17  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

The Principle Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation: V1

Makes mention of Arthurs Expidition to Norway in 517

And what of the Saxo Grammaticus Gesta Danorum in which the Battle of Bravellir is recorded comparable with the Hindus Mahabharata.

The Anglo-Celtic peoples need the fullness of their histories bringing to the fore, we are a unique folk with more in common than is told today.

22 May 2011 at 15:37  
Anonymous Kelso North Carolina said...

Your Grace:

Surely HM the Queen (May the Queen Live Forever) will guide events so William will claim the throne instead of Charles. She surely must realise that to allow Charles to inherit makes a mockery of all her parents went through to stabilse the monarchy in the 1930s.

22 May 2011 at 16:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His Grace said:

'Prince Edward got Wessex (a fairytale place most recently made popular by Thomas Hardy)..'

Wessex was the Kingdom of the West Saxons, Westseaxna rice in Old English. Part of the Saxon heptarchy from the 6th century this 'fairytale place' gave us the united English state in the 10th century.

psst, that's England, Your Grace.

I left school at 15 with zero qualifications but the school still managed to cram some heritage in "that empty space between your English ears."

A poem, in the Dorset Dialect:

We Do'set, though we mid be hwomely,
Ben't asheam'd to own our pleace;
An' we've zome women not uncomely,
Nor asheam'd to show their feace;
We've mead or two wa'th showen,
In the village,
At the tillage,
Come along an' you shall vind,
That Do'set men don't shame their kind.

William Barnes (1800-1886)

You'll notice the Wessaxon dialect is still apparent one thousand years on - it's still spoken in some parts of Dorset, but it'll be gone soon (native speakers are all in their nineties) cos no one gives a damn about England, or her historic people.

Or indeed the indignity of being reduced to a skin colour in our own land.

You carry on talking about the really important stuff Your Grace, we'll shut the door on our way out.


22 May 2011 at 16:32  
Anonymous MrJ said...

"...Roman Catholic subjects who are irritated or outraged by this bigotry (which is closer to about 34 than the oft-quoted five million, and 15 of those probably work at The Daily Telegraph)." --mirth and merriment for a Sunday afternoon!

but not forgetting Cardinal Keith O'Brien (19 May 2011 08:46).

Events (dear boy) include world events, and things always seem to have been on the slide, hence the coming and going of successive kings and royal families from, shall we say, the great Saxon Alfred to the uncrowned Edward of Windsor.

The surest plank at this moment is inscribed:
"...Clegg (also made in euroland) - the arrogance of his meddling is insupportable..." (non mouse 12:11)
"...don't change anything as a mere sop to the ego of a failed politician. Any Cleggite reform of the Lords must be defeated!" (Oswin 15:13).

22 May 2011 at 17:10  
Anonymous not a machine said...

There is nothing wrong with an hereditary monarchy , presidential systems have there own flaws.

My only thoughts are that it can become a little too many who perhaps are not directly the role , but other than that , saves a lot of time and money and gives a role that politics could never fullfill.

We are extraordinarly fortunate that our monarchy stood , europe would be a very different place if it had not ,full of Stalins and Hitlers.

It took me some time to work out how democracies fail ,the monarchy adds a degree of stability that keeps at bay the wild lies of politicians and there ideas .

22 May 2011 at 17:56  
Anonymous Tarka the Spotter said...

Oh yes, William's last title is a barony, not a viscountcy...just saying

22 May 2011 at 19:01  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Modern Democracy is where the European Council decides policy and the European Commission initiates legislation.....Voters get an Unelected 73rd MEP chosen by the Government

22 May 2011 at 23:05  
Anonymous non mouse said...

And yes, in support of Steve @ 16:32 - re Wessex: Not to forget how much we owe to its greatest king: Alfred (871-99). Not only did he insist that the Viking invader/settlers adopt Christianity (treaty with Guthrum c 878) - he preserved and developed our earliest laws, along with our literacy/education and literature. The laws are the ancestors of much in the 'anglosphere'; and the literature and literacy are more subtly and positively multicultural than any post-mod euro ever dreamt of.

Subsequent invaders have done their worst with all our boundaries; but Alfred's legacy remains, even as built upon by Cranmer. Not for nothing is he dubbed the Great... Pity we've no one like him to help us now.

wv: dialik -- Wyrd enough! Of course, some of us here like Anglian:). However, Alfred and his successors seem to have supported that survival, too.

23 May 2011 at 00:01  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr Jacobs @ 14.18, would that be Jay Leno?

23 May 2011 at 11:28  
Anonymous Tramadol said...

Congrats to their wedding. :)

23 May 2011 at 12:42  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Bred in the bone, non-mouse and Steve, excellent posts, well-done!

23 May 2011 at 17:26  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

bluedog at 23 May 2011 11:28 wrote:

"[W]ould that be Jay Leno?

That would be John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States. He along with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison authored the Federalist Papers - the classic exposition on the US Constitution.


24 May 2011 at 01:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Oswin:

'Behind the feet of the Legions and before the Normans' ire,
Rudely but greatly begat they the bones of state and shire;
Rudely but deeply they laboured, and their labour stands till now,
If we trace on our ancient headlands the twist of their eight-ox plough.' - Rudyard Kipling


'So long as I have lived I have striven to live worthily. I desire to leave men who come after me the remembrance of good works.' - King Alfred.


24 May 2011 at 16:18  

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