After the Queen’s passing, she received a great deal of adulation and it was much deserved. She was probably the best monarch in British history and there was barely a misstep in 70 years on the throne. We shall not see her like again. 

Perhaps the Queen’s only obvious flaw was her penchant for the barbarous ‘sport’ of fox hunting. 

In any event, a reflection on the monarchy should put aside any affections for the Queen. The only question is whether a constitutional monarchy or a republic is best for modern New Zealand.

We retain the mythical idea of a king or queen, but in reality they have little power in the Commonwealth. Their oath talks about dispensing justice and mercy as well as some duties to the Church of England. Royalty actively undertook these functions a few hundred years ago, but no longer. Democratically elected governments make the laws and put forward Prime Ministers and Governor Generals. A modern king or queen never expresses dissent and merely rubber stamps the ‘will of the people’.

In reality our Monarch pretends to be something they are not and they put on a very good show. They have palaces, fancy clothes, guards and coachmen dressed in silly costumes and speak to us with an upper class Victorian affectation. 

I’m not buying it. Behind the façade these are ordinary mortals with ordinary problems. Many years ago when Queen Elizabeth spoke of her annus horribilis I thought she was coming clean about her haemorrhoids, but really she was speaking Latin to commoners in order to sound fancy and superior.

Being superior is an easy sell as people have always ‘wished for kings’. One of the great foibles of human nature is to dream that our leaders will be wise, noble and just and might look after us like a benevolent father. They never have, but each new generation is born anew, seemingly with this delusion in their DNA.

Overdressing has always been the great stage effect whereby people present themselves as superior to others or, in the case of lawyers, in partial justification of their bill. Such an approach pervades academia, the judiciary, the freemasons, the cat-furred mayoralty or in a more subtle form, anyone wearing a suit. When a Government Minister comes to town you can bet they will be overdressed. 

I’m not critical of such displays of superiority – because they work. It is difficult to resist the feeling that someone that is well dressed is of greater wealth or power. It’s a very human reaction that takes a great effort to overcome. For this reason we should consciously mistrust a man in a tie – he is lying to us from the first instance. He may well be an esteemed gentleman or an absolute shyster and nothing can be concluded from his dress.

The vast wealth and pomposity of the royal family is very difficult to stomach. You can see why so many societies have executed queens and tzars, as they are offensive by nature. Such hereditary wealth and status seems fundamentally incompatible with the ideals of an egalitarian NZ. In truth almost no one is arguing that people should be equal (really they are not) but that if they are to be elevated in their standing this should be on the basis of merit – their good character, achievements or preferably both. 

That is the basis on which our Governor General is selected. I’d wager that anti-monarchist views would be largely quelled if this was the basis on which we appointed a new King or Queen. But the monarchy is not of this ilk. At the coronation they hold an orb which suggests they have been appointed by God to rule over the earth. This sounds like fairytale stuff to me. Kings and queens historically achieved power through brutal wars, assassinations or by being born into the tyrannical family of the day. I don’t believe in a God that orchestrates such matters.

Before you criticise or seek to destroy long-standing institutions you need to make a very good case for what will replace them. Communist Russia and China attempted to eliminate religion, seemingly discarding compassion for the individual in preference for tyrannical nihilism. Many point out various potential flaws in the Republican system, the most significant being that, as is the case for royalty, one day you’ll end up with a complete numpty as your head of state.

For these reasons I support the retention of the monarchy, but in a different form.

If the sovereign is just a figurehead, then why not choose a much more cost effective figurehead. Instead of King Charles I suggest we appoint a carefully selected King Charles Spaniel.

There are a number of advantages of such a move, beyond the huge cost savings to the public. Royal births, deaths and marriages would occur at shorter intervals increasing the entertainment. There would of course still be infidelity and sex scandals; perhaps it would just be the neighbor’s Labrador jumping the fence and rogering the king’s niece. With dogs I don’t think it would be inappropriate to have a dedicated royal channel where such events could be live streamed.

Doggy royalty could also be a nice little earner for the UK. The royal palaces could be freed up to be £20,000 a night luxury homestays. People could be charged £1000 to pat the King, Queen or puppies for thirty minutes at a time. Surplus pups could be sold off for perhaps £10,000 a pop. In keeping with tradition, they could be shipped off to breed with hemophiliac Dobermans in Germany.

It could also revolutionise fox hunting. We could just have the hounds chase the foxes and thereby eliminate the overdressed toffs on horseback. Even more just would be for the foxes and hounds to join forces and to chase the aristocrats fleeing naked across the fields. You can’t tell me that such a sight wouldn’t have greater appeal that orthodox fox hunting. 

The final advantage of my approach is that it creates an institution that stands against the idea that there are amazing people that we should clamor to see or who can magically make our lives better. The press should be legislatively compelled to report on the queen’s amazing post-puppy figure or the elegant new kennel a princess has bought so as to mock such ideas. 

Jacinda, the governor general or the queen are not going to meaningfully improve your life and your best bet is to ignore them. If there is anything great or noble, it lies within you. 


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  1. Paul, you have a point. A king spaniel will be about just as much actual use than the current king and/or queen. Personally I think a king/queen should be elected, should have a defined constitutional role, and be paid a modest salary, so that those nominated for the role choose to do so in order to serve rather than lord it over their subjects. And as far as political systems are concerned, a more equitable system is long overdue – money should not be the motive at all for anyone, neither should power, but once again the desire to serve. American politics is worse than a circus, Russian politics has reverted to despotism, and China to an absolute one-party state based on the power of the gun. And for Aotearoa, please bring back the Privy Council, for obvious reasons…

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