1The Royal Family. The Role of the Monarchy. (https://www.royal.uk/role-monarchy)2The Royal Family.
The Role of the Monarchy.(https://www.royal.uk/role-monarchy)3Definition of relevant in English by Oxford Dictionaries.4 UKParliament. (n.d). State Opening of Parliament5 BBCNews.
(2015). Queen’s Speech: the most British bits of the State Opening of Parliament6 UKParliament. (2016). Significant Events-Publication of Costs (This does notrepresent the full cost of State Opening, as costs will also have been incurredby other bodies, which may include the House of Lords, Westminster CityCouncil, the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Household.) 7 White,M. (2015). Queen’s Speech: how long can this feathered flummery continue?8 Jackson,K. “Does The Queen Of England Have Any Real Power?” 9 GuestPosts.
What are the Queen’s Powers?. Royal Central10 Watson,A. (2012). Opinion | Why the Queen Matters.11 TheIndependent. (2016). Monarchy ‘could be eradicated in 14 years’.12 TheIndependent.
(2016). Monarchy ‘could be eradicated in 14 years’.It is difficult to determine to what extent the Monarchy isstill relevant and influential in contemporary British society. On one hand,the Monarch could be considered influential due to her long reign and stabilityduring some of Britain’s most demanding moments however, the lack of power heldby a Monarch means they have no influence on any decisions and cannot (or willnot) make any decisions. The king or queen of Britain seem to do nothing butact as a tourist attraction.
In terms of to what extent the Monarchy can beconsidered relevant, the various Royal traditions such as ‘paying the rent’ andthe State Opening of Parliament seem slightly pointless and a waste of taxpayermoney. However, these ceremonies seem to contribute to an increase in tourismresulting in around 7 million pounds in annual revenue suggesting that themonarchy could be considered as relevant when it comes to earning the countrymoney. In my opinion, the monarchy is a British institution and it’s thetradition and history of it all that makes Britain unique thereby making the Monarchyrelevant and influential in a modern British society.However, just because the Queen does not wield any of herpowers does not mean she is not influential. For example, Alan Watson suggestedit is her “permanence that has given the British people some essentialself-assurance they needed during her reign10”.
For example, Queen Elisabeth ascended the throne in 1952, not long after thesecond world war, she has out-lasted 12 Prime Ministers and had to rule thecountry through difficult times like the conflict over the Suez Canal, thedeath of Princess Diana, 9/11 to name a few and so to have an unchangingMonarch, a figurehead to seek comfort in could be why the Queen is viewed ashaving a strong influence on the country, the Royal family is the only Britishinstitution that has not changed with the times and therefore it can be seen tobe relied upon. Nevertheless, in order to decide whether the Monarchy is stillinfluential in a contemporary society would depend on whether the society stillfeels the need for a Monarchy in the future. Dr Anna Whitelock suggested thatthe current “support for the monarchy in modern society is linked to the Queenand not the institution itself”, stating that, “questions about the relevanceof the monarchy in modern society have been constrained out of respect forElizabeth’s long reign11”.This suggests that the people in today’s society are not questioning howrelevant or influential the monarchy is due to the Queens longevity.
Dr Whitelocksuggests that once the Queen has died and Britain has a new monarch, therelevancy and influence of the new King will be “questioned in a way theElizabeth’s never has12”.Although the monarchy might not be considered relevant for amodern society, meaning “appropriate to the current time and period and ofcontemporary interest”, the next part of this essay will consider to whatextent the monarchy can be considered “influential”. The term ‘influential’ isdefined as “someone or something that has an impact on, or shapes how peopleact or how things occur”. One can initially disagree with the idea that themonarchy is in any way influential in modern society due to the Sovereignscontinually declining level of power.
The British Monarchy’s power is afraction of what it once was, an example of this lack of power is Royal Assent,which is states to be the Queen’s “right and responsibility to grant assent tobills from Parliament, signing them into law and although she could decide torefuse assent, the last Monarch to do this was Queen Anne in 17089”.This proves that even though the Monarch does have some power, these powers arenot utilised meaning the Monarch cannothave an influence or be influential in today’s society.Despite this criticism, thesetraditions are considered a part of British culture and are seen by the rest ofthe world as something that makes us unique. Britain remains one of the lastcountries to partake in such lavish and traditional events. This could make themonarchy seem relevant in a modern society as they continue to uphold thevalues of our country. One of the mostpopular reasons for the support of the monarchy seems to be the number of tourists the Royal Family draw. EvanDavies has asserted that “10% of all tourists visit the United Kingdom becauseof their interest in the Royal Family. Despite costing taxpayers around 40million pounds each year, the Royal Family has consistently forfeited theprofits garnered from land they own, revenue that amounts to about 200 millionpounds every year and gains around 7million pounds in annual revenue from tourists8”.
Meaning that the irrelevant ceremonies and traditions actually help the countrywith regard to earning money, allowing the monarchy to be considered “ofcontemporary interest”.The term ‘relevant’ is defined by theOxford English Dictionary as something that is “appropriate to the currenttime, period, or circumstance and is of contemporary interest3”.One of the main reasons the British Monarchy may not be considered relevant intoday’s society is due to the various traditions the Royal Family still upholdwhich could be seen as outdated and not “of contemporary interest”. Unlike mostbrands and products, the Royals do not seem to be adapting to the modernisationof a changing society, this leaves them exposed to the potential of being seenas irrelevant. An example of one of these potentially irrelevant and outdated traditionsis the State Opening of Parliament. The State Opening of Parliament is statedto “date back to the 16th century and marks the formal start of theParliamentary year4″and is perhaps the perfect demonstrationof the seemingly irrelevant and unnecessary traditions. For example, due to thegunpowder plot of 1605, before everyState Opening of Parliament since, the “cellars are searched by the Yeomen ofthe Guard who are rewarded with a small glass of port for their services”5.
This could be considered irrelevant not because of the outcome of the ceremony(to open Parliament) but because of the seemingly useless traditions that takeup citizens time and money, in 2013, the UK taxpayers paid £214,019 on the variouscosts surrounding the State Opening6.This amount of money being spent on the monarchical traditions prompts thequestions: couldn’t that have been spent on something better? Perhaps somethingthat benefits the country? This allows me to suggest that the monarchy isn’t relevantin a modern British society as Michael White stated in his article about theQueens speech at the beginning of the opening of Parliament: “If people don’tunderstand the meaning behind the symbolism that justifies the feathers andermine, the gold and the pomp, they will soon cease to tolerate it as anoccasional irritant that holds up the traffic in central London7”.It seems that what the article is saying is if the Monarchy is not consideredrelevant by the public, then they will consider the monarchy to be irrelevantdue to its inability to be “appropriateto the current time and period”.Monarchy is the oldest form ofGovernment in the United Kingdom. “In a Monarchy, a king or queen is Head ofState.
The British Monarchy is known as a constitutional monarchy, meaning thatwhile the Sovereign is Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislationresides with an elected Parliament1″.It has been said that although the Sovereign does not hold as much power asthey once did, the Monarch “acts as a focus for national identity, unity, andpride; they give a sense of stability and continuity2”.This essay will consider the role of the Monarch is contemporary Britishsociety and whether the Monarchy can be considered relevant and influential ina modern environment. In order to contemplate this issue, I will explore thedefinitions of ‘relevant’ and ‘influential’ to explore how the Monarch couldrepresent these definitions in a modern society. Following this, I will discussboth the levels of support and levels of criticism of the Monarchy in order todetermine whether the Monarchy could still be considered relevant andinfluential in contemporary British society.