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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Does the monarchy need reform?
The Queen should no longer be Supreme Governor of the Church of England, a year-long inquiry into the future of the monarchy says.

The centuries-old ban on a Catholic monarch should also be lifted, the Fabian Society report recommends, and the principle that sons have precedence over daughters in succeeding to the throne should also be scrapped.

Although the document stops short of recommending abolition of the monarchy, it suggests the royals should pay inheritance tax.

Do you agree with the Fabian Society's proposals? What role should the British monarchy play?


The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Toby Barnes, Spain/ UK
Does the Fabian Society report on the monarchy have any positive merits?

For me the monarchy represents our history and our culture. The fact that we still have a living monarch is a sign of our country managed to make the transition from absolute monarchy to our particular brand of democracy, unlike the bloody revolutions in Europe or the failure of monarchs such as Kaiser Wilhelm who disappeared after their failure in intervening in their state politics. As for the Queen being head of the Church of England, well just remember how the church was formed-as a result of the disagreement with the Church of Rome - just one of many ludicrous attempts at unifying Europe under non-democratic authoritarian rule. We must retain our monarchy in order to maintain our identity and as a show of autonomy for any nation in the world in danger of being engulfed by other such ideologies
Gareth, Scotland

The monarchy has served us, including the colonies, pretty well. Looking at the world's republics I can see little or no advantage in that alternative - to have a wise apolitical head of state has merit - and apart from anything else no-one else does the pageantry, largely monarch based, half so well as the Brits. It would reduce the world to a much duller place if this were not to continue.
Geoff Lamb, New Zealand

The cost needs to be put in perspective
John, UK
If there was no public money involved then I suspect that few would complain. But the cost needs to be put in perspective. In reality the total yearly expenditure is likely to be in the region of a few minutes of one of Mr Blair's wars, or a squadron of Tornados plus spares. I know where I would prefer the money to be spent.
John, UK

I see the fact that the Queen as head of state in the Commonwealth countries to be a joke. For example, Canada did not have full control over its constitution until 1982, which was 115 years after independence. Even then this event could not be completed without the Queen's signature of approval. I say don't reform the monarchy, abolish it!
Brad Anderson, Canada

What does the royal family do, exactly? Not much from where I'm sitting. I understand they get a good hourly rate, though.
Dave, UK

I think the monarchy is better value for money than the government's special advisors.
Caron, England

The U.K. has survived all these years with a monarchy
Jacqueline Crawford, Italy ex U.K
If the Church wants the Queen as its head who are the Fabian Society to tell it what to do? The U.K. has survived all these years with a monarchy and without all the trendy theorists, so they should get out of their academic boxes into the working world and start worrying about the economy and less about the fabric of what makes Britain great. I agree about the outmoded precedence rule, but not the rest.
Jacqueline Crawford, Italy ex U.K.

The Fabian Society, along with all the other left wingers who think they are cool, are not so hot and out of touch with the deep sense of pride that the British people still have for their monarchy. A million well-wishers in the Mall on jubilee day would echo the sentiment. They are a great institution, and represent value for money, and make Britain the envy of the world.
Robert, UK

Since the British already have the sensibility of a democracy with the pageantry of a monarchy, I fail to see what anyone is complaining about. If you're sick of your royals, we'll have them!
Paula, USA

Many people still love the Royals but it no longer is coooool to admit it
Christina, England
Think of the 1977 street party and how everyone had a good time, think of who we are meant to be fighting for when we go to military status. Think of the Queen's speech which is slowly being phased out as it isn't hip to be a royalist. Think of the golden anniversary. Everyone will remember the 90s for all the reforms that didn't work. I suppose we have to privatise our Royal Family now too. Many people still love the Royals but it no longer is coooool to admit it. I think the Blairites have been in America looking at the American dream so long they have got drunk on it.
Christina, England

We need the monarchy but it needs reform, too many unemployed hangers on living it up on the taxpayer. The monarch and their direct heirs i.e. Charles and William should be the only ones we are supporting and providing privileges to. The rest should be stripped of their titles and earn their keep like the rest of us. There is absolutely no appreciation, or for that matter respect, of the advantages available to them.
Rama Mistry, UK

Rather than trim down or abolish the monarchy, it should be given greater powers. Let's have as proper a Queen as possible! This would also help to clamp down on the arrogant ambitions of Mr Blair and his government!
Jonathan, UK

This outdated idea has run its course
Mike, England
It doesn't need reforming, it needs abandoning. This outdated idea has run its course and has little relevance to anybody under the age of fifty.
Mike, England

Having a monarchy is the better of two evils, just look across the Atlantic.
Paul, UK

I've got two words for anybody who wants to get rid of the monarchy - 'President Blair'.
Dave, UK

I find the concept of King Charles III being the head of the church a bit odd. He has already stated that although Christianity is sort of a good idea other religions are equally valid.
B. Essada, UK

If we're going to keep the monarchy then it needs to update itself considerably
Sara Dawson, UK
I think in a country which has nearly as many practising Catholic Christians as Anglican Christians, there should no longer be this 'discrimination' of such people. Royals have to give up their place in line to the throne if they marry a Catholic - that's rather insulting to a large portion of the British public (I am an Anglican by the way). If we're going to keep the monarchy then it needs to update itself considerably, and that includes scrapping the principle that male descendants have precedence in the line of succession.
Sara Dawson, UK

The Queen should be more accountable, and pay taxes like the rest of us. We should modernise the monarchy, and involve them in more aspects of normal life.
Antony Forst, England

Nigeria once had the Queen of England as Head of State even after independence and if we're true to ourselves we'd admit that we're worse off today for adopting a republican constitution. The British monarchy is not absolute so I don't see what threat it poses to anybody.
Oluwagbemiga O. Williams, Nigeria

The monarchy is an outdated and outmoded institution
Vic Bower, England
The monarchy is an outdated and outmoded institution that has no place in modern day society. It should be abolished.
Vic Bower, England

The monarch should remain as Supreme Governor of the Church of England and the monarchy should not be required - and certainly not forced - to reform. Her Majesty has personally reformed the monarchy in the best possible way; it is a shame our politicians don't follow Her example.
Eila Bannister, England

Keep the monarchy, as without it we can drop the Great from Great Britain. They are one of the lowest cost service providers we have left.
Bruce T Ferrier, Canada

The monarchy is of fundamental importance to the structure of the state - the legal system and armed forces are underpinned by the monarch, which has no political allegiance and is a constant institution amongst those which are continually changing. Whatever you may think of the people that form it, the institution itself is a great benefit to not only the UK but many countries around the world whose structure of state, legal system and armed forces are formed around the same stable and reliable institution.
Sam Gaunt, UK

It's time that leadership of this country was granted by the people, not inherited from one's ancestors. We should have a republic, and if people want to vote for Elizabeth Windsor as president, good for them.
Richard Kettlewell, Britain

With all the sweeping changes going through government at the moment sanctioned by Blair's cronies, I think we have to tread very carefully in the next few years and watch the Labour government very closely. In short, Tony wants a presidency - to be the first president of the UK would suit him down to the ground.
Rob Crowther, UK

The Royal family is not the basis for the traditions in this country
Liz, UK
I disagree that these reforms would remove all the traditions in the country. What traditions are we talking about? The coronation ceremony dates back to 1901 because no one could remember what happened in it when Victoria died. The Royal family is not the basis for the traditions in this country. The opening of Parliament and other such occasions could easily be reproduced using a different, elected Head of State.
Liz, UK

I think it is time that the Fabian Society was reformed.
Albert Dean, UK

In reading the comments I see a fair amount of trashing the monarchy. In a world that too quickly forgets the past - it would be wise to remember our roots and heritage. Being a former Canadian, I always was very proud that our country had such a rich heritage connected with the Commonwealth around the world. The Queen is a symbol of both the past, our present reality and a symbol of unity in our future. Good on the Fabian Society - I agree with their recommendations. Their suggestions would go a long way to assure the continuity of the monarchy.
Laurence Finn, South Korea

Nothing beats the Queen for value for taxpayers' money! She's a bargain!
Paul Sealey, England

I want to be a citizen, not a subject
Steve, UK
It's the constitution which needs a reform, not the monarchy. Blair's dictatorial powers derive from "the Crown". I want to be a citizen, not a subject. I want a constitution which expresses the will of "We, the people" not what Tony think would be good for us (ie him). As for the Queen, let her and her descendents carry on using the title. It will have no more relevance to my life than the Duke of Devonshire's.
Steve, UK

I really can't believe some of the comments I have read today about what should be our much-loved monarchy. Do we really want to become a mini America so much that we have to have a president? We already have a Prime Minister who holds much greater powers than the Royals and each year the elected parliament wastes more money than the Royals would receive in the next 20years, which by the way is minuscule compared to the taxes collected. Millions of people around the world make the journey here year after year to soak up and revel in the culture and history that some of us take for granted. If we were to get rid of the Monarchy it would be the biggest mistake this country would have made in the last 100 years. You never know how much you miss something until it is gone and by then it is too late!
Luke, England

Isn't this all missing the point? The monarchy is little more than a charming irrelevance now, and certainly does nothing to diminish the democracy and freedom of our state. Wouldn't it be more profitable if we devoted our time to reforming ills that actually affect us, rather than bashing away at anachronistic relics which do very little harm to anyone?
Freddie New, UK

There are so many changes in the world today. Some consistency that the monarchy provides is probably not a bad thing.
Mark Cotton, USA

I believe that unelected left-wing think tanks with an inflated view of their own importance should be banned forthwith. Long live the Queen!
Norman Dawes, Bury St Edmunds, UK

Although it is encouraging to have some intelligent debate on the subject, it must be time for a referendum on the future of the monarchy. The British public need to express their views on this important matter!
William Summers, Oxford, UK

What a load of tosh about getting rid of the monarchy to create a democracy. The Queen does not decide our government - we do. And the fact that we have chosen a party that feels compelled to rob the UK of its history and to get rid of anything that smacks of tradition is something that collectively we should be ashamed of. The monarchy has very little influence upon how we are run - but they perform an unstinting PR job for the country. Reform, perhaps - abolishment - never.
Debbie, UK

I have never thought it proper for the secular Monarch of a country to be the head of the church. That being said, I believe the Queen has been an amazing role model (even if her children haven't) and has done her country and her church proud. I also feel that the ban on a catholic monarch should be lifted and I definitely believe that children of monarchs should not be discriminated against in the line of succession, simply because they are female. Clearly Queen Elizabeth has proven that a woman is capable of serving her country in this role as well or better than any man.
Sherry Beth, USA

Absolutely. When Queen Elizabeth's reign comes to an end, let's call a halt to the whole circus. We went to war in Iraq to bring democracy, can we have some here please; because I don't remember voting for the Queen to be head of state.
Neil, York

Tradition is a wealth that should be well managed and continually nurtured. So also the monarchy! Scrapping the monarchy in the UK is as good as wrecking or destroying an Empire that had been built with factors amongst time, money, power and respect. I'm certain we wouldn't want to throw all this in the bin and consider starting all over again in the nearest future. Let the monarchy stay! It's a culture that shouldn't be lost, billions had been spent in researching and digging out its foundation, too late to be scrapped. Also, it's respected around the globe giving UK and its citizens in general, honour and regards amongst other nations. Let's keep it.
Sehubo Akinyanmi, UK

The UK will never be a mature, forward-looking democracy while the monarchy survives
Ben, UK
I agree with all the Fabian Society's conclusions but it doesn't go far enough. The monarchy should be scrapped altogether. The argument that it does no harm is false. It is an insidious institution which holds back the creation of a culture based on merit, initiative and enterprise. It cements privilege and power to a few based on the accident of birth. The UK will never be a mature, forward-looking democracy while the monarchy survives.
Ben, UK

Hopefully we will one day be a society mature enough not to need some unelected figurehead to whom we can grovel. I accept that the royals perform some useful function as a tourist attraction, but let us keep them as that, not heads of state or church. We don't give political power to pearly kings and queens or Morris dancers so let's remove it from this group of quaint anachronisms and let them concentrate on waving to the tourists and opening things.
Paul Haden, England

If tourism is directly linked to whether you have a monarchy or not, no one seems to have told the French. Paris - the city which attracts the largest number of tourists in the world - seems to have plenty of culture. And France got rid of their monarchy some time ago!
Craig Duncan, Germany

It is odd, I think, that in the 21st century we are still venerating a family simply for having been born into the position they have. The values of good citizenship, reward of merit etc. are necessarily undermined in a society where such unearned privilege is accorded such dubious respect.
Damian Valdez, UK

Whilst there is a monarchy, the government - appointed by one man - can act in the name of the Crown without reference to the parliament I elected.
N Cooper, UK

The only 'arguments' for retaining them are lame economics and weak concessions to bourgeoisie tradition and historical vanity. The monarch's role as head of the church was invented to facilitate divorce for heaven's sake. Tax them. Strip them of their inherited titles. Let us elect them in if we want them. Reject them if we don't. They have done not a single thing to earn my respect. It is time for a Ceremonial Monarch Elect.
Jas, London, UK

I agree with the proposals. The current institutionalisation of sexism and religious bigotry should be swept away, as should any deals where this super-rich family avoid inheritance tax. If they do public work they should be recompensed accordingly, but their vast private wealth should be subject to the same taxes as all the rest of us put up with.
Ian Boys, UK

The Fabian Society has set out a modern agenda for the monarchy which can only bring it up to date with the century in which we live. Britain is not just a multi-cultural state but also a multi-denominational, including the multitudes who are non-religious or nominally C of E. Disestablishment of the C of E is long overdue.
Matthew Cunliffe, UK

A modern democratic process has no need for a monarchy
Johnmark, UK
Why have a monarchy at all? A modern democratic process has no need for a monarchy. An elected president should be the way forward, so anyone can aspire to be 'head of state' rather than it being retained for a single family. The same laws on tax should be applied to every UK citizen. They should have the same rights and privileges that every UK citizen enjoys. I think the Queen should no longer be head of the Church of England and I don't think that a Prime Minister should choose its leaders either. I for one do not think that the Fabian society's proposals go far enough, but they are a step in the right direction.
Johnmark, UK

Clearly, the monarchy discriminates both religiously and sexually in its succession criteria and as such must be acting illegally by modern standards. In addition, the Church that they govern is also guilty of discrimination against women and gays. Surely, it's time to get rid of them, as they are not only obsolete but set such a terrible example to the rest of us. It's time we had a proper democracy!
Al, UK

The monarchy should be wound down some and with it the coverage it receives. It's torture watching the 'news' and having to hear that it is Prince William's cat's birthday or that the Queen stubbed her toe. It's almost as mundane as Big Brother.
Steven W, UK

No, definitely not! People are constantly complaining about the queen and the royal family. This institution is unique to the UK - nowhere else in the world does an institution such as this exist! When you ask any tourist about the UK - the first thing that springs to mind is the Queen and the Royal Family - without the monarchy the UK will become another nameless EU state - stop complaining about the monarchy and realise what we actually have!
Teuns Van Eck, UK

Keep the monarchy and its traditions just totally separate it from the state. Is that so unreasonable to ask? It will mean a proper constitution and democratic government is put in place for the UK. Its about time Britain was represented by a body voted in by the people acting for the people.
James Clarke, UK

Let's just leave the royal family where they are
Chris, UK
In the words of a 19th century political commentator "The power of the throne is the power that it denies others." The recent reforms relating to taxation have gone far enough. Let's just leave the royal family where they are.
Chris, UK

I think the monarchy is an outdated, pointless institution that will die off once the current generation of pensioners pass away. None of my generation(early twenties) are the slightest bit interested. They should sell the properties, planes, trains, cars and give the money to charity.
Richard Pasco, UK

In principle, I have nothing against the monarchy; from the example of the USA, presidential scandals could be just as boring. Having the royals pay inheritance tax could be tricky, given that it is debatable whether the Queen owns or is the custodian of many royal properties.
Graeme Phillips, UK

This is just more 'chippy' sniping at the monarchy. If the Queen gave all her money to the NHS (which would spend it all in about a week - literally) lived in a semi and took a job as a postlady, the likes of the Fabian society would still be suggesting she work the night shift. As a Catholic I have no issue with the ban on being the Monarch - it isn't a job I fancy - and I think the 60p a year the monarchy costs each of us a year is damned sporting, giving a lot better value then many other public institutions the Fabian society should turn there puritanical attentions to.
Tim Buxton, UK

I agree with lifting the ban on a catholic monarch, but other than that it just sounds like another group of Liberals trying to take our history and our heritage away from us. I wonder who funds the Fabian Society?
Mark, London, UK

Yes the proposals should be implemented. In addition the monarchy should also be scaled down to the Monarch, the heir and the immediate descendent. Get rid of the other expensive leeches who will never reign - 20th, 51st, 290th in line to the throne? Get real!
Alistair, Ireland

I agree that being Catholic should not disqualify you from sitting on the throne, but the rest of the report should be thrown out. If anything, the Monarchy should be encouraged to assume a greater political role. A strong executive can balance out a very lop-sided parliamentary majority and prevent rule by "tyranny of the majority." (all you people currently moaning about Tony Blair please take note) We have a saying over here in the US: "if it ain't broke don't fix it" and I think it applies to this attempt to "reform" the Monarchy. I seem to remember people running around making a big deal about how important reforming the House of Lords was and what a mess they created. Are the people of the UK better represented now that they threw the hereditary peers out and "reformed" the chamber? I don't think so.
Kevin, California, USA

Considering the record this government has on reforming things recently it's probably best if they leave things alone. Though trimming a few of the Royal hangers-on wouldn't go amiss!
Matthew Butterfield, UK

Scrap the lot of them. In a time when we are debating who should get further education and whether positive discrimination works, the resounding answer is to reward ability. The monarchy is a bastion for getting things (money and power) without ability or effort. End it all now!
Russ, UK

All the Fabian proposals sound good to me. I'd go further - although not as far as abolishing the monarchy entirely - but this seems like a good start.
John Dallman, England

Who are the monarchy? The last article I read, said that Prince Charles has a man to squeeze his toothpaste and lay out his ties! The monarchy is a total waste of space, and an insult to ordinary working people. Prince Edward, in real life, would be on the dole.
Betty, England

Another report, the same old conclusions. The Government ought to be the ones consulting and then driving the reform in conjunction with the Monarch. For those who will advocate abolition, I ask that they look around at the current 'top' politicians and ask if they'd really want them as Head of State?
Martin Hoscik, UK

The significance of the monarchy in a contemporary UK is little more than that of a tourist attraction.
Sebastian, UK

More importantly, what role should the Fabian Society play? Are they elected representatives, or merely a group of minority left-wingers who resent anything that people can look to with respect?
Richard, UK

I think we should farm out the minor royals to other Commonwealth countries. Why have Prince Edward standing idle when he can be opening supermarkets in New Zealand....
Gareth Wilson, London, UK

Keep our monarchy! Blair is keen to establish a country bereft of tradition, ancient culture and long established differences from its neighbours. All these attract the world's biggest business to visit us - tourism.
Gail Devereux-Batchelor, England




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