Letters: The Monarchy

'Modern' monarchy for a backward country
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The Independent Online

David Cameron says the existing rules of the royal succession are "at odds with the modern countries that we have become". Perhaps he would like to explain what is modern about a monarchy.

While he's at it, perhaps he'd like to explain why the UK is called a democracy when its head of state is an unelected, unaccountable monarch whose role stands in direct contradiction of any British claims to being a meritocracy, and which underpins the two-tier system of extreme privilege that defines "modern" Britain, and of which Cameron and his wife are archetypal beneficiaries.

Mike Hockney

Newcastle upon Tyne

The proposed reform to the rules of succession further emancipates women and Roman Catholics. In so doing it highlights the remaining insult to the larger number who are not their parents' eldest surviving child or who were born out of wedlock.

It was demonstrated within the first two generations of the Norman dynasty that these are eligible candidates for the throne. When kings and queens had important jobs to do, some flexibility was desirable to let the most capable contender through. This mattered less as they became figureheads and the succession was allowed to fossilise. Now that they are figureheads in an age of mass media there is once again a need to pick the most suitable.

This could be developed, along the lines of traditional systems of tanistry, to say that our future monarchs would be selected from among all the surviving descendants of Queen Elizabeth II.

John Riseley

Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Among the changes to the laws which determine who can succeed the throne is the removal of the bar on anyone married to a Roman Catholic.

The Roman Catholic Church places on a Catholic partner in a mixed marriage a requirement to "see to it, as far as possible" that children are brought up as Roman Catholics. If the Roman Catholic partner in a royal marriage were successful in that regard, their children, as Roman Catholics, would, under another provision of the Act of Settlement, be barred from the succession to the throne.

That would presumably result in pressure to amend the Act further, so as to allow a Roman Catholic actually to become the sovereign and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Would everyone be happy with that, or would the Roman Catholic partner in a royal marriage be given some sort of church dispensation?

Dr Robin Orton

London SE26

Business that enriches the few

The revelation that FTSE-100 directors have enjoyed a 49 per cent pay increase in the past year shows just how broken our economy is. While the majority of workers suffer real-terms wage cuts, top directors continue to line their pockets, ensuring that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few.

This state of affairs is sadly inevitable in a system which prioritises short-term profit above all else. What we need is a rebalanced economy that rewards sustainable business and holds companies to account to ensure they act not only in their own interests, but in those of their staff and communities.

Social enterprises are such businesses working to ensure that society profits, rather than CEOs and senior directors. To rebuild Britain's economy we need businesses to act in the interests of the many rather than the few.

Peter Holbrook

Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK,

London N1

As "we're all in it together", when will the rest of the country get its 49 per cent pay increase?

Dr Pete Dorey

Reader in British Politics

Cardiff University

Does the bonus for Bart Becht, boss of Reckitt Benckiser, "which makes Nurofen, Calogen dish-washer powder and Durex condoms" include free washing-up, unlimited sex, and no headaches?

Robin Spencer

St Andrews, Fife

Cathedral impasse

The Tragedy of the Commons currently playing around St Paul's Cathedral benefits the "disaffected of St Paul's" at the expense of residents, visitors and the local workforce.

A solution benefiting the wider London community would be to introduce a temporary daily tent-parking licence of, say, £25. Rather higher levies already apply to parked cars, skips and mobile burger and ice-cream vans. The revenue would be shared between the Cathedral and the City.

If they want to stay, let them pay.

Caroline Doggart

London SW3

John Walsh ("In Finsbury Square, a whiff of revolution is in the air", 28 October) cheerfully noted the sign displayed by the latest wave of protesters in the City of London, quoting Henry Ford's views on the global banking system.

If these people claim to speak for the 99 per cent yet take their economic analysis from the author of The International Jew, with chapters titled "Jewish Power and America's Money Famine", "The Economic Plans of International Jews" and "Jew versus Non-Jew in New York Finance", then they certainly do not speak for me.

Andy Strang

Balcombe, West Sussex

Is it too much to ask the undercover police officers who are surely imbedded among those camping out at St Paul's to use their influence at the camp's general meetings to bring this matter to an end? What do they think we're paying them for?

Colin Burke


What we need is another royal wedding, then all of the tents outside St Paul's Cathedral will be "legitimised" overnight. Problem solved. Prince Harry, your country needs you.

Steve Rudd

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

The Church of England used to be referred to as "the Tory Party at prayer". Could St Paul's now be regarded as "the City at prayer"?

Beverley Thompson

Milton Keynes

Selective schools don't work

During my teaching career I taught in secondary modern, grammar and comprehensive schools (letter, 28 October). Teaching in some secondary moderns was a depressing experience. The pupils were all failures and the teachers mostly non-graduates, having failed to get the few places available at university in those days.

Contrast this with grammar schools, where the staff, virtually all graduate, were better paid, teaching in the main highly motivated pupils. It was more a process of osmosis than education.

Fortunately, some of the comprehensive schools managed the task of teaching all these children successfully in one building, in my opinion better preparing them for understanding life after school. Surely it is not beyond the wit of our current masters to ensure that all schools copy the most successful comprehensive schools.

Compare this with the background of our current ruling elite, taught in select little bands, isolated from 90 per cent of the population. Grammar schools were little different. There were very few pupils from working-class backgrounds. For every success story of a working class pupil able to advance through the system to university and beyond there were thousands of "failures" who left school with nothing but negative experiences.

Jeremy Axten

Addlestone, Surrey

My advice: go forward together

With reference to your distinction between "council" and "counsel" (Errors & Omissions, 22 October), the latter has a completely different derivation to the one you propose.

I agree with the Oxford English Dictionary that "counsel" is derived from the Latin noun consilium meaning consultation or advice. Whereas the derivation of concilium is, as you say, concilio "call together", the derivation of consilium is to jump or go forward together ("consult" and "consul" are also derivatives). The two words are closely connected in Latin usage and one merges into the other in a process: you call a meeting and should hope to progress to agreement and giving advice.

When I taught Latin, I used to explain the difference between concilium and consilium by referring my pupils to the two English derivatives council and counsel. I hope the lesson stays with them: if it does, it is an argument for the usefulness of Latin.

Hugh Hollinghurst


Pushed to the edge of Europe

Is it not mind-blowing to see the Eurosceptics of the Conservative Party and hardline supporters of closer European Union working steadfastly to the same end, namely the marginalisation of Britain in Europe?

Having succeeded in making their leader look vulnerable at the Brussels summit, the rebel Tory MPs must be thrilled at the prospect of Merkel and Sarkozy putting up the "no longer wanted" sign over British influence in Brussels.

There will be no need for a future referendum on EU membership. Britain will already have been shown the door.

Anne Swift

Beckenham, Kent

The Eurozone's plan to allow Greece to default on 50 per cent of its debts and also to set up a €1trn bailout fund to safeguard European banks has in effect done away with any moral hazard for European governments and European banks for years to come. The effects will surely be disastrous.

Rob Michaels


Feta cheese and olive oil the only two products of Greece (letter, 28 October)? What about tzatziki and taramosalata – otherwise perhaps known as double-dip recession?

Nick Pritchard


A weak prime minister exposed

I don't think Matthew Norman's analysis of the Prime Minister's fortunes is quite right ("Has Cameron's lucky streak just run out?", 26 October). I'm not sure Mr Cameron has been all that lucky – not since the day he was born anyway. But any lucky streak he did have surely ran out the day that he failed to win a Commons majority.

In theory his position is no weaker now than it was in May last year. But that position is fundamentally weak. And it's in the nature of political weakness that when people start to stand and point at it, it grows.

David Woods


Early poppies

Eddie Johnson may think it early to see a poppy on 25 October (letter, 27 October), but the greeter who welcomed us at a hotel in Chagford, on the edge of Dartmoor, was certainly wearing one on 15 October. Can I claim the prize?

Caroline St Leger-Davey