LETTER : Can't live with them, can't live without them

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The Independent Online
YOU HAVE interpreted the MORI poll statistics as indicating a call for abolition of the monarchy but, as you have reported, after several undeniably unhappy years for the Royal Family, only 17 per cent believe the country would be better off if the monarchy were abolished ("Britain turns against the Royal Family", 18 February). Or, another way, 83 per cent do not believe Britain would be better off without the monarchy.

You say that the majority of under-25s think the monarchy is an expensive luxury. Can I take it that all those whose opinion MORI sought knew exactly what the monarchy costs, and have sufficient knowledge of the costs of the alternative to make a comparison? Do they know, I wonder, that even before last week's New Hampshire primary the Republican candidates hoping to become US head of state had spent approximately $40m (pounds 26m) of public money, and this is with another eight months of campaigning before the presidential election in November? I assure you that many Americans think that electing a new "Royal Family" every four years is an expensive luxury. As you record, the Queen has a 73 per cent "approval rating". President Clinton's, like several of his predecessors', has at times struggled to stay in double figures.

I look forward to learning what alternative you are proposing. Could it be the system of executive presidency, whereby in the last elections Mr Clinton was elected to his exalted post by fewer than 43 per cent of his countrymen who bothered to vote? Or would you go for the French model, where the present incumbent was not his people's choice in the first round of voting, and may yet have to deal with the national divisions caused by having a party other than his own in government. Perhaps you would prefer a ceremonial head of state - someone described by the writer Charlotte Raven as "President Worthy Unheardof". And I mean no disrespect to Herr Roman Hertzog, who was appointed by German politicians (not national franchise) largely because he was the only candidate sufficiently bland to be acceptable to all parties. At least 6 million Germans want their monarchy restored (Wochenpost poll, 1995) but the present "democratic" German constitution continues Hitler's 1934 ban on monarchist parties.

When formulating your thoughts, remember what Sydney D Bailey said in his book, British Parliamentary Democracy: "Impartiality and continuity are important aspects of government and it is doubtful whether any form of democratic government yet discovered provides these to any greater extent than does constitutional monarchy."

Donald Foreman

The Constitutional Monarchy Association, London E4