Matthew Groves: Monarchy is the institution that holds this nation together
Matthew Groves is on the parliamentary list and ran for Parliament in 2010 in the constituency of Plymouth Moor View. He achieved a 7.9 per cent swing for the Conservatives. He was also a local councillor in Surrey for eight years. Matthew has recently launched his own blog, "A voice from the Shires".
There have been some very good years for the Monarchy, with the Royal Wedding, the Diamond Jubilee and now the birth of Prince George. Polls show that the current approval ratings for this longstanding institution are at an all time high. It is difficult for even the most embittered republican not to find himself smiling benignly to hear the latest from our national family about the nappy changing of Prince George!
That is of course one central part of our monarchy – its role as our national family, bringing us together as a family who share in the joys of weddings and births and the sadness of funeral. George III in particular saw the advantage of strengthening the Monarchy through emphasising the Royal Family.
When the Family went through its crises in the nineties, with the break down of two marriages, the Queen suffered her annus horribilus and the final crisis of Princess Diana’s death, the institution suffered. It was wounded, but not fatally and that is because while being the national family is so important, it is not the only vital role that the monarchy performs.
Monarchy unites all the strands of this nation, government, parliament, the armed forces, the church, much of our charitable sector. It is the monarchy that stands for permanence in the vicissitudes of modern life. It does not move at the pace of ephemeral Westminster politics. With the birth of the new prince, the media is now commenting about Britain in decades, not days or weeks.
This is particularly important for the armed forces, where allegiance is sworn to a commander in chief who is not a partisan but truly represents the whole nation – past and future. By the monarchy’s political neutrality and the inspiration of historic longevity this institution is a fitting figurehead for those who risk their lives for us on the frontline.
Then there is the international role performed by the monarchy. It unites us with all those foreign nations with whom we have historic ties, so that whatever the disagreements in the moving field of international relations, all those nations, from such different parts of the world that share the Queen as head of state are bound as a family, despite temporary matters of foreign affairs. The Queen is known to take her role in the Commonwealth very seriously. The recent gratuitous gesture to political-correctness by the government by its attack on primogeniture, means many nations will have to reconsider their constitutional set up, so it has now given driven republicans in other nations an opening to attack their countries’ links with the monarchy.
In terms of politics it is often under-estimated what sort of role the monarchy has. Many former prime ministers have testified to the importance of their weekly meetings with the Queen, who like the House of Lords, but in a less formal and public way, can provide a voice of wisdom and more long term experience for prime ministers whose terms of office are far shorter.
When Britain was left with a hung Parliament in 2010, our situation was stable because the nation knew that if the politicians were unable to carve up a deal in smoke-filled rooms there was the Queen in the background a reassuring presence to protect the nation from a constitutional abuse. Had Gordon Brown attempted to continue in office, he would have had to seek the assent of the Queen.
It is often mistakenly assumed that we have separation of powers in this country. We do not - we are governed by the Queen in Parliament. Only the judiciary, with its separate Supreme Court is the anomaly in this system.
The Queen gives Royal Assent to Parliament. The Queen opens Parliament. Her ministers are members of the legislature. The bishops of her church sit in the upper house of Parliament.
All this means continuity and unity in a political system centred around the monarchy – the central institution to our nation since the Anglo-Saxons. It is a set-up that has led to a millennium of stability and gradualist reform.
The danger to our great institution comes from a political class that is preoccupied with abstract theory. An institution that has evolved as organically as the British monarchy does not fit with abstract theory. Thankfully the fact the British public so clearly value the monarchy means that for now the restless political class, always looking to change things and tinker, will continue to support the monarchy.