Will The British Monarchy Be Abolished In The 21st Century?

In this thread, we’re looking into the future and discussing what things may be like by the time Prince George of Cambridge ascends to the throne (after the reigns of his great-grandmother, his grandfather, and his father, of course). More than one poster has speculated that there won’t even be a monarchy by the time George is old enough to have his eyes on the throne.

So what’s your take? Will the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy be abolished (for good, this time) by, say, 2099?

As an American, the idea of a constitutional monarchy at once confuses and fascinates me. On the one hand, the monarch hasn’t had absolute power for 800 years, and hasn’t had any power for 500 years - so what’s the point? But on the other hand, there’s something to be said for having one person be the living embodiment of your country’s centuries of tradition and history.

It’s hard to say. Britain hasn’t always been very fast to implement change. It also has never appeared that British Republicanism is tremendously well supported, and even the Brits who identify as Republican don’t seem to actually be that passionate about it.

There’s been a lot of writing by political scientists in recent years that say that having a “divided executive” like Britain does is actually far superior to the Presidential system. Namely, by having a separate Head of State who absorbs most of the “symbol the nation” respect/pride from the public, while attending to the purely ceremonial affairs of state, you basically produce better governance. Because then people feel more free to hold the “head of government” (aka the country’s top politician) accountable for his/her actual actions/performance.

Further–obviously you don’t need a hereditary monarchy to achieve this. Germany has a Head of Government (Chancellor) and a Head of State (President), the President is powerless more or less, and is chosen by a quasi political process that means he/she will normally be someone who isn’t amazingly political relevant. But if you look long term there’s actually evidence that even the mostly apolitical Head of State in Germany and countries like it, actually has “worse performance” than constitutional monarchs. Namely they end up involved in scandals or undesirable behaviors at a much higher rate than constitutional monarchs do. I don’t quite know why that is, but that’s all to say that removing the constitutional monarch and replacing it with a form of ceremonial President may, in fact, not be better than the status quot.

I would guess no. They’re really a pretty big bang for the buck. They typically cost somewhere just north of 50 million USD a year, which isn’t peanuts, but it’s in the same magnitude as the upkeep of a large national park, so hardly bankrupting and arguably it brings just as much tourism and joy to people and much of that money is going to be spent regardless of whether or not there is a royal family. It’s not like the UK government would cease to upkeep most of those properties or fail to keep them staffed. The only reason to really be against them is you don’t like the idea of a monarch and I think that most people do like the idea of a relatively powerless monarch and I don’t see what would change that in the next century.

As an aside, 500 years ago was 1518 and I think it’s safe to say that Henry VIII had a great deal of power.

That’s a very strange thing to say. So Henry VIII didn’t have any power? :confused:

How would you define absolute power? Kings and rulers have always had as much power as the people they rule will let them get away with - particularly the powerful nobles - which may be less than you think.

Anyway, the monarchy was abolished in 1649. Things didn’t work out and the king was invited back.

I personally don’t see the monarchy being abolished in the 21st century. Too many people are fond of it. The system ain’t broke, and there’s no need to try to fix it for abstract ideological reasons.

I would speculate that the British Monarchy would not be abolished. Instead, I would expect it will be reformed to be “smaller”, whatever that could mean.

I don’t see it going the way of the hereditary monarchies across much of Europe, where there are all sorts of Princes and Dukes quietly Princing and Duking around but not really in the public eye. That would be the other end of the spectrum.

I’m seeing something in the middle, where they are still present in the British public perception, perform much the same ceremonial duties, but on a smaller scale. It would probably entail reducing their wealth and land ownership (turned over to the state), and losing a few homes.

During the height of all the scandals, I would have said yes. Now, however, both princes have behaved in an exemplary manner and both princesses appear to be loved by the public. I think it’s safe for the foreseeable future, though anything could happen.

While there are European regnants whose title happens to be Prince or Duke, most Princes and Dukes are merely honorary nowadays, having even less political power than the British nobility (no Houses of Lords). They may or may not have economic power, depending on how good the family has been at managing the estates. And they may or may not be “quietly around”, depending on who they’ve been seeing, whether there are fights over inheritance and whether they want to see their faces on glossy covers or not.

The definition of what titles are noble in those countries may be wider than it is in England, but the power of the nobility is smaller.

Do forgive me, I got my estimates wrong as to when the last monarch who had any power reigned.

If it were me, I would mark the end of royal rule as Anne in 1707. I think that William and Mary were ABLE to rule, but their position was tenuous enough that they didn’t and Parliament wasn’t going to give that power back to Anne and I think the Acts of Union were the death blow.

I would probably say the complete end of almost all royal power was William IV when he was only able to temporarily dismiss Lord Melbourne in 1834. It happened, but its quick overturning was really the end of pretty much any power left in the monarchy.

Unless some disaster happens in the family (more than just telling your mistress you want to be her tampon), I seriously doubt it. They’re just figureheads that a majority of Brits seem to like.

Expensive mascots, that probably are a net positive for the country and outweigh the costs.

Yes, I was about to say (before being ninja’d by the post above) think of them as mascots, not monarchs. They are England’s Mickey Mouse.

I think that the real threat to the monarchy is when they finally decide to stop doing it. There’s money that compels them, but is it really that much money? I think they could likely do almost as well on the talking circuit or making movies. William has an estimated net worth somewhere around 40 million dollars. It’s not chump change, but he could do that well in the world of celebrity. Barack Obama has the same net worth and he started from nothing and has only really been earning in the last decade. In exchange for that relatively paltry sum, they live lives that are incredibly oppressive by modern standards. Geeze, Kate’s not even allowed to sit down unless it’s a certain way. Right now, I think that they have a sense of duty to it and a thousand years of tradition is going to be a tough thing to destroy, but Edward VIII started it and I don’t think he’ll be the last. In interviews now, they have been quoted as saying that no one actually wants the crown and I can see a point in the future when they decide that it’s just not worth it.

Which scandals would those be? If you’re talking Charles and Diana, that’s child’s play when you consider what his ancestors were up to.

I’d say the last time the monarchy was in real trouble was during the abdication of Edward VIII, or WWI, when the other big three (Austria, Germany, and Russia) all fell. Spain went a few years later (although they came back), but Britain hung on.

So if they could survive all of that (and you should read some of the shit the Hanovers were up to!), I’d say any scandal that would topple the monarchy would have to be fucking huge. They’ll be around for awhile.

One small but often overlooked factor is the many British businesses and industries that trade off their apparent “connections” with the Royal family. Brands like Burberry, Jaguar and Harrods would probably suffer and then you have industry in the Potteries, where the economy is struggling anyway, that is in some part reliant on local economic booms brought about by large Royal occasions. The Royal family is probably indirectly worth billions to certain sectors of the British economy.

Plus, if Britain chose to go to a republican form of government but still have a parliamentary system, there would still have to be a head of state of some sort, which would cost money.

Looking at Germany as a comparator for that type of parliamentary republic, a quick Google took me to the wiki article on the German federal budget. It uses badly outdated numbers from the 2005 budget, but apparently in 2005 the expenses for the office of the German Federal President cost €23 636 000.

Allowing for inflation and exchange rates and such, that’s not much different from $50 million today.

So, not like the British would save money by going to a parliamentary republic.

I didn’t know others felt this way, but I have definitely believed it myself for some time.

The question is how much do the British people like the monarchy as an institution and how much do they like Elizabeth II as a monarch.

Which princesses are they? Eugenie and Beatrice?

I don’t know “lord protector” dosent sound as cool as "your highness /majesty king/ queen whoever

I think it’s a pretty safe bet that, whilst the monarchy may survive the century in the UK (or as Monarch of a separate rumpUK and Scotland), the other 16 realms which still have her as Monarch will probably change their minds. Certainly once QEII passes, some of those countries will choose to break with the monarchy (looking at you, Australia).