‘TO CELEBRATE the birth of the Royal Princess” ran the legend (in every sense) around 5,000 commemorative plates produced by a firm that had “complete confidence” in supposedly inside information that the Duchess of Cambridge would give birth to a daughter.
They are now being sold as clearance. The disappointment suffered by these misguided entrepreneurs was shared by more prominent promoters of the feminisation of society.
The BBC could not conceal its chagrin at the birth of a male heir. It was a historic moment, its reporters grudgingly conceded, but not as historic as it might have been – i.e. if the baby had been a girl, parachuted onto the throne by Nick Clegg’s half-baked, quarter-processed legislation to gerrymander the royal succession. The corporation’s petulant disappointment conveyed a hint that the Duchess of Cambridge, by producing a prince, had let the side down.
It was another infant, however, who was most chagrined. Baby Clegg, who had been thrown the royal succession by Dave as a plaything to distract him after the loss of his favourite toys – alternative voting (AV) and House of Lords reform – had looked forward to proclaiming himself the Man of Destiny who had changed the course of British history by putting a woman on the throne more than half a century hence.
It is a measure of how revolutionary such an experience would have been if we recall that since the Act of Settlement was passed in 1701 we have been ruled by men for 174 years and by women for 138 years. For more than a millennium the tradition of male-preference cognatic primogeniture has produced female sovereigns but prevented over-frequent, deracinating changes of dynasty.
To David Cameron and Nick Clegg – the Entitled Ones – the British constitution is just a quaint box of tricks (as it was to their hero and role model Tony Blair) into which one can delve from time to time to create a political distraction. The proposal for AV, untypically, was put to the electorate and so failed. House of Lords “reform” collapsed, but only after the upper house had been converted from a genuinely neutral revising chamber into a bunch of placemen by shameless patronage and the elimination of most hereditary peers.
The rule of thumb among the unaccountable scoundrels who govern us is that the more serious an issue, the more basic it is to the stability of society, then the more arbitrarily it is fast-tracked into spurious “reform”. Even marriage was despatched with minimal debate and process. Any matter of weighty consequence, notably so fundamental a pillar of the constitution as the royal succession, demands careful consideration and widespread debate and consultation before any change is contemplated, rather than rushing it into law to secure transient applause on Twitter. The correct sequence is a royal commission, a green paper, a white paper, a public consultation, a draft bill debated by the whole House of Commons and the Lords, followed if necessary by a referendum.
Instead, the Succession to the Throne Act was nodded through with less scrutiny than would be accorded new regulations anent the White Fish Authority. Its timing was dictated by the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy. Yet when Prince George was born last Monday, the legislation was still incomplete because several Commonwealth countries had not processed it.
In fact the birth of a male heir saved Dave considerable egg on face as a result of his incompetence. On the eve of the birth there was desperate talk of retrospective legislation – the ultimate abomination to defenders of civil liberties – if the baby should be a princess.
Now the legislation is in serious trouble in at least two Commonwealth countries.
In Australia republicans oppose it because passing a new succession law would confirm adherence to the Crown from which they want to secede; if one state out of six rejects it, the legislation falls.
In Canada it is being challenged by the Quebec government and is set for a long march to the Canadian Supreme Court. Quebec is Catholic and unlikely also to be impressed by a new law that allows a girl to become Queen – provided she is not a Catholic.
It is typical of Cameron and Clegg that they opened up the Act of Settlement on the pretext of “reform” and closed it again without addressing the one discrimination that needed to be reformed: the exclusion of Catholics from the throne. Now their tawdry, grandstanding Act is in limbo, with the possibility either of being killed off or creating the potential for different monarchs in some Commonwealth countries, as happened in 1837 when Hanover became separated from the British Crown.
All this is the consequence of inane, modish, back-of-an-envelope pseudo-reform, while the urgent problems afflicting Britain go unaddressed. «