Letter: Lords cannot defy pledges in manifestos

Sir: The release of archives confirming that Edward VIII was a Nazi sympathiser ("Britain's would-be Nazi Queen", 4 December) comes at a time when reform of the House of Lords is on the political agenda.

The logic of examining the hereditary aspects of the monarchy, as well as that of the Lords, can no longer be avoided - even by those who are as keen to preserve the monarchy as some are to abolish it.

Sixty years of wise and conscientious rule by the present Queen and her father only came about because a divorcee was unacceptable as a Queen Consort. The reported shortcomings of the present royal offspring add weight to the need to determine a better way of appointing future sovereigns than automatically crowning the eldest son.

Her Majesty will know that many of the hereditary rulers and chiefs in the Commonwealth are selected by a council of elders from those of royal lineage. These king-makers may not themselves be of royal blood but are expected to have a better idea than the subjects at large of the heir's leadership potential, or even if descent through the maternal line is desirable - as in Ashanti.

If the future of the British monarchy became too politicised, it would endanger the sense of national cohesion which is probably the most cogent reason for preferring it to a presidential alternative. I suggest that the leaders of the three main parties and their dominion counterparts request Her Majesty to recommend a way of appointing her successor that leaves less to the chances of primogeniture and more to the royal candidates' qualities to lead us in the next millennium.

J E TRICKS

Crediton, Devon

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