Wednesday, 18 June 2008

"Grant me thirty years of equal division of inheritances and a free press ...

... and I will provide you with a republic"

It's no secret that I believe Scotland should be a republic. I'm a democrat, I believe in the sovereignty of the people and the right of the people to elect their representatives. I have no problem with the members of the royal family, I don't know them (although I have met two of them and I must share the story of my "bumping into" Prince Phillip sometime). As I say, I don't know them and they did not choose to be born into this lifestyle so I have no problem with them, I just don't want them to have any more of a say in the running of my country than I have - but I'm a generous sort and I'd definitely give them each a vote. I don't really want Gordon Brown to have a say in the running of my country either but at least we have the power to elect or not elect our governments - when it comes to the Queen and her family we have no power and no say.

Just as the royals inherit their position in life, I think I've inherited MY position on republicanism from my dad. One of my favourite stories about him was when, as a soldier in the British Army (you got paid 1/3 more if you joined up rather than did national service - head screwed on my dad!), he was INFORMED that he would be paying 2 shillings out of his next week's wages to buy a British Army wedding present for Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips!

He duly informed his sarge that no, he would not!

It didn't go down well. But it was tough luck as far as he was concerned. No matter who told him he had no choice, no matter what their rank, he calmly (OK for all those who knew him, perhaps the "calm" bit is a little exaggerated!) told them they had no jurisdiction to impose such a ruling ... and it wasn't as if they needed the money ... and he didn't believe in the monarchy anyway ... and nobody had asked if he wanted to donate ... and a whole load of other things besides knowing my dad ... !

In the end they had no choice but to agree. The story my dad used to tell was that he was the ONLY serving member of the armed forces who contributed nothing to the wedding present of Princess Anne. Who knows if that was true or not but it's certainly the case that he refused to pay up on the basis not only of his republican views but also a simple point of principle - that no-one was entitled to take his money without consulting him. His final words each time he told that tale were simple - "that's theft" he would say before sitting back and awaiting the applause from his audience!
The quote is from French Historian Alexis de Tocqueville.

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