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Old April 30th, 2017, 12:21 PM   #1
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The United Republic of Great Britain


Suppose the mourning Queen Victoria decided to abdicate and recommended that a Republic be instituted rather than have her "ill suited" son Edward succeed her in 1862. This would at least mean the styling of a non-hereditary Head of State but there are still issues with the House of Lords, the titled aristocracy and the leadership of the growing empire. The Princess Royal Victoria (Vicky) was already married to the Crown Prince of Prussia and plans to marry off the remaining unmarried royal children were underway.

In France the aristocracy was eliminated. In Germany the aristocracy was retained (1918) but severely limited. How should Parliament handle this? Please give some detail.

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Old April 30th, 2017, 01:28 PM   #2

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevev View Post
Suppose the mourning Queen Victoria decided to abdicate and recommended that a Republic be instituted rather than have her "ill suited" son.

How should Parliament handle this? Please give some detail.
Its actually not in the power of the Monarch to abolish the monarchy, once she abdicated it's not up to her to determine a successor.
Parliament may choose her son, or another Royal, or legitimise one of the sons of
William IV or the sons of the Duke of Cambridge or Sussex
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Old April 30th, 2017, 02:39 PM   #3
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Its actually not in the power of the Monarch to abolish the monarchy, once she abdicated it's not up to her to determine a successor.
Parliament may choose her son, or another Royal, or legitimise one of the sons of
William IV or the sons of the Duke of Cambridge or Sussex
I know that but republicanism probably reached its peak in 1860's because the Queen was isolatng herself from her public duties. I was framing a hypothetical to set up the situation. So I'll rephrase initial question to simply ask how might a republic be configured if the British monarchy were to be abolished in the 1860s.

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Old May 1st, 2017, 01:55 PM   #4
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Suppose the mourning Queen Victoria decided to abdicate and recommended that a Republic be instituted rather than have her "ill suited" son Edward succeed her in 1862. This would at least mean the styling of a non-hereditary Head of State but there are still issues with the House of Lords, the titled aristocracy and the leadership of the growing empire. The Princess Royal Victoria (Vicky) was already married to the Crown Prince of Prussia and plans to marry off the remaining unmarried royal children were underway...

It wasn't up to Queen Victoria.

You say the mourning Queen, I assume you mean in the period following Prince Albert's death in 1861. At that time the future Edward VII was just 20.

The monarchy was hugely popular and republicanism was treated with great suspicion. England had been a republic before and had reverted back to being a monarchy.

Even today republicanism is not that popular in England though possibly more so in other parts of the UK.
At the end of the day, the British people would much prefer a monarch as head of state that some politician.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 02:12 PM   #5

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Even today republicanism is not that popular in England though possibly more so in other parts of the UK.
At the end of the day, the British people would much prefer a monarch as head of state that some politician.
You know us too well.

Britain would need a monarchical Head of State at the time we are speculating - the government of the British Empire had to have a figurehead (which is why Victoria became 'Empress of India' in reality).
The class system was deeply entrenched by the mid-19th century (having developed into the sub-divisions of upper/lower working/middle class by then); people were in the main 'class-bound' and any notion of Republicanism would have shaken the status quo. Not only that, as noted above, it had been tried before and failed.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 02:57 PM   #6

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I doubt at that time that Parliament would have passed a law outlawing the monarchy. There would have been no public support for it, and considering the revolutions in Europe at the time, it would have been a risky move. If anything, Britain at the time prided itself on its stability, vis a vis France, or the German states (Germany didn't exist in 1861), or what was to become Italy.

There is talk that if Victoria had died shortly after Albert, then the monarchy would have been abolished, but I think it would have been unlikely.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 03:55 PM   #7
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I thank everyone for your responses. I've been reading about Victoria for the past several months and she is someone I admire. I know that she spent more than a decade in seclusion before Disreali began to draw her back into the public eye. During this time there were calls to abolish the monarchy. Apparently someone once left a "For Rent" sign on Buckingham Palace.

However my hypothetical in Post#1 was that the grief stricken queen wanted to abdicate and being in the position to set the conditions of her abdication wanted a republic. She had long been disappointed in her eldest son and blamed him for contributing to the death of Albert. The other likely choices didn't satisfy her either.The Pariament could not refuse the abdication request if the Queen said she could no longer do what is expected of her. The Queen's position was accept my conditions or I'll go Balmoral and you'll never see me again. She was stubborn.

So what does a British republic look like?

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Old May 1st, 2017, 04:15 PM   #8

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Walter Bagehot published "The English Constitution" in 1867, but much of its content had been argued in the "Fortnightly Review" political magazine over the previous few years. He expressed the case for Constitutional Democracy over any form of Republicanism in Britain and essentially expressed the national consensus.
Despite some support for Republicanism in the United Kingdom in the mid 19thC among small groups of radicals and the "intelligentsia" (in inverted commas because Britain never really had such a class) in England and among Catholics and extreme anti-English elements in Scotland, the case for Republicanism has never caught on with the mass of the people. It rears its head every few years and many political leaders, especially of the left espouse it, yet only have an incoherent idea of the type of Republican Government that could exist.
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Old May 2nd, 2017, 08:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by OccamsRazor View Post
You know us too well.

Britain would need a monarchical head of state at the time we are speculating - the government of the British Empire had to have a figurehead (which is why Victoria became 'Empress of India' in reality).
The class system was deeply entrenched by the mid-19th century (having developed into the sub-divisions of upper/lower working/middle class by then); people were in the main 'class-bound' and any notion of Republicanism would have shaken the status quo. Not only that, as noted above, it had been tried before and failed.
I've always had a hard time explaining to others why a head of state with no real power needs to exist. In the UK the royal prerogative is exercised by parliament and this was case in 1862. If a head of state must exist just to legitimize the actions of parliament, I can't answer the question as to how to justify the expense of a constitutional monarchy. Sweden, Japan and Isreal formally invest executive power in the cabinet. The head of state has no function other than to "embody" the state, whatever that means. Switzerland has no true head of state at all. The Federal Council is the constitutional executive whose members occasionally carry out ceremonial functions.

I would have an 1862 British government with executive power constitutionally vested in the cabinet. A non-partisan speaker could perform a much reduced and less expensive set of ceremonial functions. Everything else would be left as it is. The House of Lords might be restyled as a senate but the wealth and standing of the aristocracy and class structure would effectively remain as it was under the monarchy. In time there would be a gradual transition toward a more egalitarian society.

As for the empire, republican France managed a large empire. By 1862, the British Monarch had no effective executive power in the dominions. Indian and other colonial affairs were managed from Whitehall I believe, not by the Crown. In short, the Monarchy is a tradition and a symbol, but not a necessity of state.

BTW I don't believe the British Monarchy is in danger, although King Charles III might test its resilience. If the people want bear the costs, let it be.

Last edited by stevev; May 2nd, 2017 at 09:55 AM.
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Old May 2nd, 2017, 01:01 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevev View Post
I've always had a hard time explaining to others why a head of state with no real power needs to exist. In the UK the royal prerogative is exercised by parliament and this was case in 1862. If a head of state must exist just to legitimize the actions of parliament, I can't answer the question as to how to justify the expense of a constitutional monarchy.
The seed of this lies in the events of the Glorious Revolution, it was seen as the completion of the move from the absolute rule of the monarch to the democratic rule of Parliament.
Remember that after the Stuart line ended, the following monarchs were 'invited' to become King (of course, you can argue that William of Orange invaded and conquered Britain, but that's another story) and needed the support of Parliament.
Constitutional monarchy thus was an effective method of rule (at the same time as absolutist monarchies in Europe) and became the norm as a result, and so the tradition stuck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevev View Post
As for the empire, republican France managed a large empire. By 1862, the British Monarch had no effective executive power in the dominions. Indian and other colonial affairs were managed from Whitehall I believe, not by the Crown. In short, the Monarchy is a tradition and a symbol, but not a necessity of state.
Queen Victoria was the focal point as the British head of state - the peoples of the Empire (deemed 'subjects') could more readily focus on a single figurehead than a government that kept changing every election.
Although management of the Empire was carried out by the civil servants (as in the French dominions), Victoria was seen as the ruler.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevev View Post
BTW I don't believe the British Monarchy is in danger, although King Charles III might test its resilience. If the people want bear the costs, let it be.
The Royal family has had its fair share of scandal and unpopularity over the years; they are always good at bouncing back.
HM can't go on forever, but her mother made it to over 100 and if she does the same, she may break another record. So we may just get William V instead.
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