When students are passing motions to abolish the monarchy, I fear for the future of the Royal family
One of the most famous debates in the history of the Oxford Union Debating Society was the 1933 King and Country debate, in which Oxford undergraduates famously passed the motion: “This House would under no circumstances fight for its King and Country.” The debate polarized Britain, shocking many, with the Daily Telegraph thundering: “Disloyalty at Oxford; gesture towards the Reds.” There was an unnerving echo of this last week, when the Oxford Union held a debate with the motion: “This House would abolish the monarchy.”
When I received my prestigious invitation to oppose the motion, shortly after Harry and Meghan lobbed their first volley of “truth bombs” against the Royal family in their Oprah interview, I felt a renewed blast of fury towards the Sussexes. Their antics and accusations of racism, mental health neglect and poor Windsor parenting have whipped up republican sentiment, especially amongst younger generations.
As scandal after scandal shakes the family, the legitimacy of the monarchy seems to hang in the balance,” the blurb for the debate posited, insisting that we question the legitimacy of our hereditary head of state. “Should we protect an iconic symbol of Britain or stand against a corrupt system of rule?” they asked. “Can we justify the monarchy’s existence or are its faults too great for Britain to bear?” …
While I had anticipated their dreary pronouncements and egalitarian glee, nothing could have prepared me. Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, a pressure group which campaigns for the abolition of the UK monarchy presented the Queen as if she was the David Walliam’s character, Gangster Granny. She was portrayed as lolling in her lavish lair, unscrupulously ripping off her subjects. The Royal family was “a racist institution by default” bellowed besuited Mr Smith. As well as being “anti Catholic”, it was “immoral, unethical, wrong in principle and corrupt”. He cited historians as describing the monarchy as “more secretive than M15” because they kept the royal archives at Kew, vetting access to them. Dr Ken Ritchie, the founder of Labour for a Republic, a Labour-affiliated pressure group, agitated over the monarchy “reinforcing the social pecking order”, urging us to rid them of their “social status and power”. …
Whilst I am passionate about defending the preference of the monarchy to an unthinkable alternative and hold the Queen in the highest esteem, I felt that in this debate there was a forewarning of the wave of venom and vitriol that is getting ready for its moment. There is now a genuine fragility and vulnerability to this venerable, ancient institution.
Let the 1933 King and Country debate be a salutary lesson and God Save the Queen.