Letter: Parliamentary sovereignty and the role of the British monarchy

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is time to consider the institution of the monarchy in terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.

Article 18 of the declaration states that: 'Everyone has the right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief. . . .' The British monarch is required, by birth, to be head of a specific religious organisation.

Article 19 says that: 'Everyone has the right of freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media. . . .' A monarch is not expected to speak out on a 'controversial' issue.

Article 21 (1): 'Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.' The monarch's lack of this right is usually described as 'being above politics'.

Article 21 (1): 'Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment. . . .' The monarch is designated by birth to fulfil a specific public role, regardless of inclination or abilities.

The doctrine of the divine right of kings was abandoned long ago. However, the very concept of the monarchy contravenes basic human rights.

Yours faithfully, HAZEL WACHTERS-PATMORE Pijnacker, Netherlands 18 October