27th APRIL 2011
This evening on THE MORAL MAZE the debate is raised on the basis that "In a meritocracy, an hereditary ruler makes as much sense as an hereditary dentist and the monarchy traps us as subjects, enshrines inequality and that we should have the power to choose our head of state". Put simply: is the monarchy compatible with a truly meritocratic society?

The answer is yes, for reasons of impeccable logic. Dentists, and all others who fulfil functions that society finds useful, are selected by their customers according to a variety of factors. If they are licensed practitioners of a trade they are rated from the other direction too by the professional bodies or government regulations that allow them to practice. None of this actually guarantees their individual performance and indeed these days what would previously have passed as sensible appropriate selection criteria runs the risk of being called discrimination.

In the case of the Monarch who is head of state, there is no business or trade that is represented, nor is there any political party. The country is not seeking the person with the most talents to be head of state in the case of a constitutional monarchy. It is on the contrary a question of tasking someone who does NOT represent any one trade, profession, political party etc. more than any other. The only merits required are that the monarch should be there with the support of the majority of the citizenry, regardless of all those aforementioned factors, and the monarch should be capable and well trained for the job. The very last quality needed is that of a personal ambition, even in retirement from politics or commerce, to be head of state.

The only obvious individuals with these required merits are the products of a hereditary monarchy and their selection of spouses, subject to all the constraints and in the least fortunate circumstances, the abdication or removal of the monarch.

Merit is therefore the very basis of our Monarchy. It is there by the wish of the people and by the merit of the monarchy itself. As for those who say it is not elected, I would say it is elected daily. The time may come when no member of the Royal Family is prepared to do the job, or when the British public want a republic. That is certainly not now.

I shall not listen to the Moral Maze debate today. Maybe tomorrow.

APRIL 29th 2011
The Moral Maze panel didn't do too badly as it turns out, Michael Portillo is pretty strong in the logic department.

Today's wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton is a good example of the merits of the monarchy. The right stuff came to the fore at every point. Embarrassment didn't have a chance. There was no pomp, just genuine participation in a ceremony full of meaning. Studying the performances in the abbey, where everyone played their appointed role to perfection, the bride's father takes my prize. Clearly unconcerned as to whether the cameras or eyes of others were on him he sang the hymns where some others mouthed them as they looked around. Kate Middleton is clearly up for the job, very much her father's daughter. She's there on merit, chosen by her husband and supported by the country. Which part of the word 'meritocracy' do republicans not understand?

It's an important task, representing the country not politically but as a nation, getting to know the leaders and thinkers in other countries and hosting their official visits to our shores, as well as having very important access to all our domestic offices, industries and establishments. They will as time passes become a vital element in ensuring transparency as well as continuity in our national affairs.

JUNE 10th 2011
Nice girl, Fiona Bruce. Well-spoken, as they say in the trade, not easily ruffled. So when she got brief and to-the-point answers from Philip to some of the silliest questions imaginable she prattled on happily to the next one, which in about one in 10 struck gold with the odd vein of silver in between. I like to think that when media interviewers ask really stupid questions they do it on behalf of the viewers they have managed to misinform over the years with respect to the jobs, status and motives of the people they are now interviewing, to give them a chance to straighten out (in this case) 70 years of confusion. In this case she did give HRH the opportunity to show what he was NOT, and by deduction exactly what he was: the right man who offered himself for the job, did it superbly for 70 years and has no complaints at all other than, could it be said, being asked damn fool questions.

To give Bruce a bit more credit, both her introduction and summing up at the end were intelligent, as she seemed to deny all responsibility herself not only for the media misrepresentation but for damn fool questions, which was why I was so surprised that in the interview itself she persisted with  them. It seems there is a formula that cannot be departed from. I hope this programme has been enlightening. As the Duke said, it was an inevitability so he decided to make the best of it. That's what he does.

But even David Attenborough does not understand the realities of the Monarchy. He said (in this programme) that it all hinges on the fact that they are 'different from us' and the 'mystique' must not be destroyed. No, David, they are only different in the way we are all different. Horses for courses, dear boy. It is a job that has to be 'carried off' at a level which includes mastery of both the surface and the depth of the role, from figurehead to intelligent mind that can absorb, understand and act as unifying and catalytic presence wherever called on. The Monarch, the Consort and the heirs all have a role. Barring abdication, only the Consort or spouse has a chance of choosing his or her destiny, when they marry the Monarch. The moment the nation does not want the Monarchy, they will retire. That day is certainly not yet in sight., so they will do the job as long as requested.

JUNE 11th 2011
So what are we to make of Johann Hari's "Spare us the fawning over Philip"? other than that he has to write something to earn his bread from the Independent. Prince Philip would certainly agree with him and has no need of Peter Oborne's support. Nobody gains anything by 'fawning' (whatever form it takes in this instance), so what is the point of the article? The fawning we do in this country, it seems to me, is often to the media and its power over individuals whose lives it can boost to stardom or shatter to dust in nothing more than its own interest of power and influence as it fawns in turn to the readers on which it depends. A vicious circle of fawning from which the Duke in question adroitly and honourably extricated himself, much to the annoyance of some. The reason why people might wish to involve senior members of the Royal Family in their organisations, if they are able to do so, is to make their work effective. When they are so recognised, it is for the same reason.