The oldest human being recorded in modern times was Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived from 21 February 1875 – 4 August 1997.
During that time, her country, France, was governed by (take a deep breath):
The Third Republic (1871–1940). A temporary government. Ahem. It can itself be divided up into Paris Commune, Royalist and Radical periods.
The War Time Occupation cum Vichy Regime (which is not pertinent here, except in so far as the Third Republic was a little disfunctional and may have contributed to the circumstances which allowed WW2 to happen.)
The Fourth Republic (1946-1958).
The Fifth Republic (1958-present).
If we go back just 30 years before Jeanne Louise Calment‘s birth, we also get:
The Revolution of 1848.
The Second Republic.
and the Second Empire.
While we in the UK had, over a period of 2 centuries, the Great Reform Act, the Abdication Crisis, gradual Reform of the House of Lords, some revolutionaries plotting in their spare bedrooms and getting precisely nowhere, and the Rutland Hokey-Cokey.
It’s not a difficult choice: would you prefer to hack up a new Constitution every few years, with all that that implies, or have lunch with your beloved followed by an afternoon’s fishing?
Is it any wonder that, when asked, we Brits keep saying that we prefer a Constitutional Monarchy? Left Foot Forward (of all places) summarised it last year:
While there are variations in the questioning between the Ipsos-Mori poll (2011), the ICM polls (2011 and 2009) and the GFK NOP (2007), the “monarchist answer” is given by between 63 and 78 per cent, while the “republican answer” is given by between 18 per cent. These figures have barely moved in more than 15 years.
The case against comes down t0 a few points:
1 – The Economic:
‘It’s too expensive’.
2 – The Theological – Political:
‘I don’t believe in it so it must change’.
‘In a Democracy a Head of State must be Elected’.
‘Politicians have too much power by inheritance from the Monarch’.
and 3 – The Personal:
‘Prince Charles is an Arse’.
One doesn’t amount to very much, two needs a separate article for another day, and three is the last refuge of the frustrated.
But our Republican campaigners don’t do themselves many favours.
The last report I took to the time to read from Republic argued that the Monarchy cost £202.4m a year, with half of that based on an unevidenced aside in a Daily Mirror article claiming that the Royal Security bill was £100m a year, and then went into how many schools and hospitals that guessed amount of money may or may not be able to buy.
That’s hardly an inspiration to transfer them from the Muppets’ Gallery to the ‘campaigning groups to be taken seriously’ category.
Run down the league table of top European countries to be imitated, and it will usually include the Nordics – Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland – and also Holland, of which 4 from 5 are Constitutional Monarchies.
So I’d call myself a pragmatic Monarchist; we are fortunate in still having a figurehead removed from the daily mud-wrestle of politics. And we don’t have to do the overnight schizophrenia fit required of USA citizens when a grubby politico becomes “Mr President”.
While we have it, that is fine.
If we lose the Monarchy, for whatever reason, then we’ll have to follow the route of successful Republics, and do our best to emulate the benefits by creating a President divorced from day to day politics.
Or, as a trading nation, we could simply import another one – like last time.