Monday, 5 November 2007

To Lochaber no more: do we support HM Queen Elizabeth II or the direct successor of the Stuarts, HRH Francis, Duke of Bavaria?

The short answer is this:

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is the legitimate monarch of the United Kingdom and all the Commonwealth Realms.


The best argument is this: common sense.

The true threat to legitimate Catholic monarchy today is most certainly NOT Queen Elizabeth II.

If you don't agree then stop reading now because nothing I nor anyone else says - even God himself - will persuade you.

However, there are many other very good arguments for her legitimacy.

Here are a few:

First, the Stuart line has not made any claim to the throne since the death of HRH the Cardinal Duke of York in 1807. That, on its own, puts an end to the matter.

Secondly, the popes since that time, and even before, recognised the Hanoverians for reasons of state policy and for the safety and security of Europe and what was left of Christendom.

Thirdly, the Cardinal Duke of York himself returned the "Honours of Scotland", the Scottish royal heirlooms which always revert to the Sovereign legally, to King George III which was a tacit recognition of him as his legal successor according to the ancient Scottish (and Gaelic) principle of the Taniste (pronounced "Tawnister") meaning "successor". Under this principle, which was a dynastic principle in most if not all of the Celtic monarchies and principalities, the king could choose a successor from amongst his near kin and his eldest son would only succeed if the king had failed to make such a choice. This law, of course, did not apply to England.

However, in England, Parliament claimed the right to make the king (at least since 1688/9). That law was wholly illegal and Parliament had no right to claim it, especially as it was imposed by foreign occupation when the Dutch invaded us and overthrew the rightful king, but, after remaining in place for over 100 years that was a principle that could not now be overthrown without disproportionate harm and so has had to be endured as a part of the British Constitution ever since. Thus it would now be wrong to seek to overthrow the Hanoverian dynasty, nor its heirs or successors.

Fourthly, the Catholic Church teaches that a war, to be just, must be declared by the right authority and no-one now has the right to declare the present dynasty overthrown nor to wage war against it, except, perhaps residually and only in Catholic law not international law, the Pope and he would not now do it as it would be grossly immoral so to disturb a peaceful state and constitution which works, and is working, perfectly well enough for the safety and security of the nation and the people (leaving aside the wicked machinations of some of our more odious politicians).

Fifthly, the Catholic Church also teaches that a war, to be just, must be proportionate and any such attempted overthrow would be utterly disproportionate and thus monstrously unjust and wicked. Indeed, it would be every bit as wicked as the attempt by the evil and Marxist Irish Republican Army to overthrow the state. It was for that reason, among others, that the IRA was several times condemned and its members ex-communicated by the Pope and the Irish bishops.

Sixthly, the Catholic Church favours stability of government - that, after all, is what "peace" is - and that is why it has always favoured legitimate monarchy which, as St Thomas Aquinas and St Robert Bellarmine say, is the best form of government. Now it would be a complete reversal of that principle if one were, at a time when another dynasty has become well-established, to champion the cause of a dynasty that has no prospect of removing the present occupants, does not wish to, and which, if attempted, would be to disturb the peace, safety and security so radically as to threaten the very foundations of the Constitution, the law and monarchy itself.

It would, in short, now be a revolutionary act and the Church utterly opposes revolution which is the greatest threat to any nation's safety and security and which inevitably leads to the persecution, oppression and murder of the innocent. The Church will always ally itself with those governments that are the most peaceful and just, even if that means some sacrifice in terms of legitimacy of monarchy. Peace and Justice are higher goals than legitimacy since legitimacy is seen as a means to the end of attaining such peace and justice because it is more stable than other forms of government. Legitimacy is not purely an end in itself. To choose legitimacy above peace and justice is thus to reverse right order and to sin since, as St Thomas teaches, sin is to desire a good inordinately i.e. outside its right order.

Seventhly, whatever is wrong with our current constitution it cannot be laid at the feet of the Windsor dynasty. Indeed, our Queen has been one of the most exemplary of monarchs that we have ever had the good fortune to see upon the British throne. She has dedicated and devoted herself to the service of her people, the Commonwealth, the Constitution and the best interests of all, without stinting and with much self-sacrifice.

To shew her the kind of ingratitude that is implied in the rejection of her right to sit upon the throne would be an act of the greatest iniquity and baseness and would rightly be viewed as cowardly and deeply criminal. It is the kind of evil ingratitude that utterly false and evil organisations like the IRA demonstrate and is odious in the extreme to all Catholic Christians of good conscience - and, I may add, that excludes all those so-called "Catholics" who think that the IRA have a right to bomb, main, slaughter and destroy innocent men, women and children in open and devilish defiance of the Commandment that says "Thou shalt do no murder". As Bishop Moriarity of County Kerry in Ireland said of their predecessors, the Fenians, "Hell is not hot enough, nor long enough, for such as them".

So, then, you will ask, why do we bother to remember and extol the Stuart dynasty?

That, too, is readily answered.

It is because the dynasty stands not only for legitimate monarchy but also for Catholic monarchy, for Catholic government, for Christian government in accordance with the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for stability, for peace, for justice, for loyalty, for honour, for truth and for a period in our history that is not only deeply romantic but also sets an example for us today and sets the right tone, human weakness notwithstanding, for what Christian monarchy is really about.

Attempts are repeatedly made - alas, not least in Scotland - to besmirch and dishonour the name of the Stuarts and to pretend that they were weak, venal, dishonest, power-hungry, corrupt, villainous, self-serving, incompetent, vain, bigoted, conwardly and so on. But the smears are so ludicrously excessive that they do not reach their mark just as the false accusations against the Templars and the Jesuits were so absurdly excessive that no-one believed them, not even those who might have been disposed to detest the Templars or Jesuits. It is the same with the wildly excessive accusations against the Stuarts.

Part of the reason for these attempts is that the Jacobites, i.e. those who supported the Catholic Stuarts, were largely exiled from Scotland were sent to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America and other colonies or else escaped to Europe. That left in Scotland largely those dour, bleak, Calvinists, the Presbyterians, who have a vested interest in besmirching the name of the Stuarts and all they stand for.

The Scottish Episcopalians, among the most loyal of Jacobites, were heavily out-numbered and had to keep a low profile. Many went to America and founded the Episcopalian Church there. Now, they both have simply become yet another of the many liberal Protestant sects who do not really believe in anything much at all and have largely abandoned the historic creeds of Christianity and certainly have abandoned its morality.

In fact, as history reveals, it was the Whigs and Hanoverians who were bigoted and weak and whose government was corrupt. England was never so badly governed as it was by them, as the Protestant William Cobbett, who lived at the time, so graphically reveals.

It was they and their evil example that lost the American Colonies; they who tolerated the supremacy of the "jobbers" in the City of London that led to the South Sea Bubble, and the placemen in government who let corruption and anarchy reign in so many places so that the poor were never so destitute. They, too, were those who introduced transportation to the Colonies and over 200 capital offences, including death for stealing 6d or a sheep; they who widened and extended the most vicious and offensive Penal Code against Catholics ever to be seen so that English and Irish Catholics were reduced to the status of starved slaves in their own country.

The Stuarts stood for everything opposed to such monstrous corruption. The Catholic King James II and VII was even in favour of religious toleration within reasonable bounds. Indeed, it was for THAT reason and no other than he was treacherously betrayed by those who should have been most loyal to him and who sided with the Durch invader, William of Orange, and, indeed, actually INVITED the Duchman to invade, the most open and clear act of High Treason imaginable. Yet these same bare-faced, hypocritical pharisees falsely and unjustly dared to call Catholics by the odious and shameful name of "traitors" and to hang, draw and quarter them with the most savage and brutal torture imaginable - all simply to preserve the ill-gotten plunder of the Whigs!

James II ordered his Declaration of Indulgence to be read from every pulpit in the land (which was the "media" of its day) but the refusal of 7 Anglican Whig bishops so to do, and their subsequent trial, precipitated the plotting of High Treason against the King. In the Declaration, Catholics and dissenters were freed from the savage penalties against them and allowed to participate in the professions, the Armed Forces and the public life of the state, to some degree.

Read the Declaration here and judge for yourself:

The Whig Anglicans, whose ancestors had enriched themselves from the plunder of the monasteries, the system of welfare for the poor, feared that even this small measure of toleration might lead to them having to account for their ill-gotten gains and - absurdly and irrationally - they feared that it might lead to a Catholic government which might make them give back some of their plunder and robbery to the Church. They feared this even though the Catholic Queen Mary (Tudor) had found it impractical to order more than a small part of the plunder restored. But even this very little the villainous Whigs feared!

This was the REAL fear of those worthless scoundrels, the Whigs.

They feared for their grotesquely bloated wallets, their chests of booty, their fabulous houses and wealth, their sacks of gold. These Whigs were the original fat, bloated Capitalist exploiters and, like all thieves and robbers, they fought hardest and most energetically against those who would require them to disgorge their ill-gotten gains and return some to the public purse and to relieve the poor.

Instead, they conspired to oust the legitimate government, to which they owed allegiance, and, through the agency of the Parliament which they so totally controlled, they set up a puppet government with a king - William of Orange - who was entirely in thrall to them, so that they could secure to themselves fabulous wealth and riches, undisturbed by the famished cry of the starving children of the poor.

Was there ever men so evil as these?!

We remember the Stuarts as being the dynasty that set itself against these plundering rogues, the Whigs, and sought to govern for the good of the people as a whole, and not for one small section of the people.

The Whigs will tell you that the opposite is true but one need but read history to see what liars they are.

The Whigs claim that their revolution of 1688/9 was for "liberty" - but liberty for whom? It was liberty for them to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor, in truth.

Even as late as 1988, the late Quintin Hogg, Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone, a former Lord Chancellor, sought to celebrate 300 years of that Whig revolution as a celebration of our "ancient liberties". It was no such thing. It was the very opposite. It was a denial of our ancient liberties and the settlement of liberty upon the rich to exploit the poor.

The years after 1688 were the years which Hogarth so aptly illustrates with his paintings and drawings of the idle corruption of the rich, the sloth of government and the complete destitution of the poor. One such has a caption "Drunk 1d, dead drunk 2d". This was the time when rich and poor alike went to Tyburn to see many hanged and half-hanged and turned the whole ghastly event into a kind of Christmas fair!

This was why the Whigs felt the need to promote "No Popery" riots whenever there was public discontent with the government. It was a devious, cynical means of deflecting attention from the true source of corruption, i.e. themselves, onto entirely innocent but convenient scapegoats, the Catholics.

The evidence for this is Cobbett himself - a Protestant but a very fair and honest one. Read his book The History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland to see all revealed. And Cobbett was an MP and journalist whop suffered unjust imprisonment for telling the truth about the corruption in British society of his time.

When the Whigs, and their predecessors the Cromwellite Roundheads, speak of "the people" they mean themsleves only. When they speak of "the consent of the governed" they mean only the consent of themselves. When they speak of liberty, they mean liberty only for themselves. And when they speak of "arbitrary government" and "Popish government" they mean a government that will stop them from exploiting, oppressing, persecuting, starving and slaughtering the people and which will stop them enriching and bloating themselves with wealth that once was used to succour the poor and sick.

As Dr Johnson once aptly wrote: "The Devil was the first Whig".

We remember the Stuarts as the dynasty that stood apart and above these evils and, instead, stood to defend the true liberties of the people from the depradations of a parcel of Whig plutocrats and exploiters who cared not a whit for the liberties of the ordinary people.

And we remember that these same Stuarts were, from James II onward, loyal and devout Catholics who looked to the principles of the Gospel to guide their government and to honour, loyalty, chivalry and protection of the weak, and all the virtues as the things at which kings must aim, not mere filthy lucre and self-aggrandisement.

And we remember that they were the legitimate monarchs against whom the treacherous Whigs disloyally and shamefully refused allegiance and, instead, declared treasonous war.

For this reason, too, we honour their descendants, the Wittelsbachs and Liechtensteins, also fine examples of good, modern, Catholic monarchy and dynastic rule.

His Serene Highness, Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein and his wife, Her Royal Highness, Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein and Duchess in Bavaria, through whom the Stuart line now passes.

We remember the motto of the Stuarts for the same reason:

Aymez Loyaute - love loyalty.

All true Christians love loyalty and hate disloyalty just as they hunger and thirst after justice, peace and mercy and hate injustice, war and the hard-hearted mercilessness of corrupt and selfish men.



Christine said...

Thank you for the thoughtful clarification.

According to arguments put forth by Guy Stair Sainty, Queen Elizabeth II could not be technically legitimate, as the crown may only pass through the primogeniture male heir, and neither the king, nor the heir, nor anyone for that matter may renounce his rights to the throne, as it is chosen by God Himself. Thus it matters little that none in the Stuart line has made any claim to the throne, or that the Cardinal Duke of York returned the Honours of Scotland, or even that the Holy See recognized the House of Hanover over the Stuarts as legitimate. I think, though, that you hit on a truth when you wrote, "Peace and Justice are higher goals than legitimacy." This, it seems, is the heart of the defense of the current monarchy. Even if Queen Elizabeth II is not technically the legitimate monarch, for the good of the people and for the sake of order and peace, she is recognized as such.

Tribunus said...

Thanks for that.

You surprise me with that reference to Guy Sainty. The Salic law does not apply to the British royal house and the Pope recognised Queen Mary (Tudor) as legitimate Queen of England and her husband, King Phillip II of Spain, as legitimate King of England, as her spouse and consort.

Not all European monarchies follow the Salic law nor are they obliged so to do.

I do not quite agree that it matters little that the Holy See recognises a dynasty. I think that is important. It is true that it is not decisive unless the Pope actually deposes a monarch but nevertheless it does hold some significance, I think, if the Pope expresses a policy.

I personally think that Her Majesty is, by all reaosonable and legal criteria, the legitimate monarch.

However, I remain a Jacobite in the wider sense, revere the memory of the Stuarts and endorse all that they stood for, even though I think the time is long overdue for their actual physical restoration to the British throne, exempting a very unusual change of events in the future.

Christine said...

I apologize if my comments were unclear. I did not mean to say Guy Sainty put forth those arguments in reference to the British monarchy. And I absolutely agree that the Holy See's political decisions carry weight. My argument was simply this: If it is the case that the next heir in line to the throne (whether he be male or female) has no right to renounce the throne, as he was chosen by God Himself, then the fact that he voluntarily hands over his rights to another, or even that the Holy See recognizes a different dynasty, has little bearing on his legitimacy. He is king, ipso facto, whether he likes it or not (which means Franz, Duke of Bavaria, though he makes no claims to the throne, is the lawful king of England).

Of course, if one believes (as do the Orleanists in France) that a monarch may renounce the throne and hand it over to another, then nothing stands in the way of the Windsors' full and complete right to the throne of England.

If one follows the law set forth in the first paragraph, though, it seems the true defense of Queen Elizabeth II's reign is the one you advanced: peace overrides legitimacy.

This actually helps clarify my own position towards the U.S. government (as I am both a French and U.S. citizen). I don't consider the American Revolution to have been lawful, but rather treasonous--which follows that the U.S. government was illegitimate. Still, as one who has been trained in the law and has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, I must consider it legitimate for many of the reasons you put forth above.

Ttony said...

This is wonderful.

It is at the same time a defence of Catholic Monarchy in its British context and of the consequent duty of all who believe in Monarchy to maintain our lawful allegiance to our Sovereign.

As a Catholic Crown Servant, may I thank you for this post.

Midlander said...

Because she gave assent to the Abortion Act, and subsequent laws against human life and marriage, it can be argued that the Queen - like those parliamentarians who also voted for those laws - loses any legitimacy she may have had.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (partially quoting Pope John XXIII's Pacem in Terris) teaches: "Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case 'authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse'." (CCC 1903)

You describe the Queen as "one of the most exemplary of monarchs that we have ever had the good fortune to see upon the British throne." While she may have the most exquisite good taste and impeccable social manners and throw delightful garden parties, these amount to nothing when you consider the laws that she has put her name to. The Abortion Act alone, by which more than 6 million unborn children have been killed reveals that she is one of the biggest tyrants who has ever sat on the British throne.

Whether the Queen was crowned legitimately is an important question, which you do well to raise. This question should not, however, cause us to forget that there is also the important question of whether she has exercised her (legitimate) authority legitimately. Sadly, she has not.

Tribunus said...

Dear Christine,

The short answer to your point is, I think, that legitimacy (meaning lawfulness) is not wholly entailed in legitimacy of birth. There are other considerations, too.

The Pope ex-communicated King Philippe le Bel as an heretic and released his subjects from his authority.

At that point, some say, he ceased to be the legitimate King of France although he had been chosen by legitimate means i.e. birth.

Thus, whether one agrees with the Pope having such power, one can see that there are other considerations than birth alone, highly important though birth may be.

This does not, however, make Midlander's arguments correct.

Dear Midlander,

The fault in your argument is, I believe, this: you place one aspect of royal legitimacy higher than all others, namely the issue of abortion, human life and marriage legislation.

Important though they are, they are not the only considerations necessary to give legitimacy to a monarch.

The fact that a law loses legitimacy, by virtue of contravening the natural moral law, does not mean that the Crown thereby loses all legitimacy.

A Catholic may not be forced to follow an unjust law and indeed ought to resist being so compelled.

But that does not release that Catholic from any or all other allegiance or loyalty to Crown and government.

To say otherwse is to deliver into the hands of the subject the right to judge the Crown and the state which power no private citizen has, as St Thomas clearly teaches in De Regimine Principum (On the Rule of Princes).

Your argument would legitimise revolution which is strictly forbidden to Catholics.

Your quote from the CCC and Pacem in Terris does not support your hypothesis for it states:

"If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience".

The "arrangements" do not mean that the whole Constitution may then be abandoned and anarchy or some revolutionary force permitted to take over.

It means that the unjust law is not binding in conscience - no more than that.

The remaining parts of the Constitution are still valid, legitimate and binding.

If this were not so then any subject would have the right to sit in judgment upon his or her own rulers which right they simply do not have.

The only person who can sit in judgment upon a legitimate ruler, and indeed decide whether he is legitimate or not, is a higher or superior power.

That superior power might be the Pope (and in the Middle Ages was).

The Pope could thereby release subjects from their allegiance to the Monarch and state but it is not in the power of any private subject so to do.

In the early Church, Christians were enjoined by the first Pope, St Peter, to honour the Emperor even though the Emperor was a heathen and certainly presided over immoral laws including abortion and infanticide.

Yet, there are the words of St Peter at 1 Pet 2:17.

That deals, I think, with the theological argument.

Then there is the legal and constitutional argument.

In a Constitution such as ours the prime focus of power, and therefore of responsibility, is no longer the Crown but the Ministers of the Crown, particularly the Prime Minister, and the House of Commons.

They form the real power that has passed these immoral laws, not Queen Elizabeth II.

If the Queen were to refuse her assent, even in the manner undertaken by King Baudouin of Belgium, she would risk the very real possibility of a Constitutional revolution.

Even if the Queen had such power - and it is at best doubtful - she does not have the right to risk the fall of the entire Constitution for the exercise of it.

Arguably, the only time that the Queen may now lawfully exercise her royal authority is if a government sought to act outside the Constitution e.g. by refusing to hold an election. But even then, it is probable that Her Majesty's judges would consider they had power to decide the issue. If not then the Queen could act. That is now her residual pre-rogative.

I think it is a pity that the Crown does not have more power and authority but that is the current legal reality.

Thus to blame the Monarch when the real blame lies with government ministers is perverse.

It is also a curious fact that, although many republican presidents have the same, and often more, power to counter-sign legislation, they are never selected as targets for criticism for signing into law equally bad abortion laws and other immoral legislation.

Targeting the Queen but not them is also, therefore, perverse.

It follows, therefore, that to describe the Queen as one of the "biggest tyrants who has ever sat on the British throne" is doubly perverse and, moreover, defies common sense.

It is to cast all principles of moral responsibility and moral theology to the four winds.

Furthermore, the Queen has a great deal more to her credit than "the most exquisite good taste and impeccable social manners...[and] delightful garden parties". Indeed, I doubt that her taste is so much better than everyone else nor her garden parties as good as those of some rich person like, say, Sir Richard Branson or Terry Wogan.

However, she has set a personal example of Christian good conduct which is exemplary and a model for others. To ignore that is to do her a grave injustice.

Midlander said...

If Queen Elizabeth remains "one of the most exemplary monarchs" even though she has presided over a veritable holocaust, one wonders whether a retrospective of Hitler might place him highly among one of Germany's finest too.

The Queen could have demonstrated, as did the King of Belgium, the incompatibility of abortion not only with the rule of law, but also with her coronation oath.

At her coronation she was asked: "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? [etc.].." She answered: "All this I promise to do."

You rightly indicate that the main responsibility for the disgraceful laws we have in this country lies with parliament/the government. However, the Queen put her name to the Abortion Act and other laws.
The "constitutional crisis" that might have arisen if she'd had the nerve to do what was right would not have destablised the country in any way - but even if it had, she should have done what was right. Consequentialist arguments should not be decisive in moral reasoning.

If the Queen had resolutely opposed abortion then, who knows, maybe parliament would have given way to her. I don't think she should have abdicated, but if parliament chose to de-throne her that would be a price worth paying for being faithful to moral principles AND THE OATH SHE MADE WHEN SHE WAS CROWNED.

Far better for her to live in a council estate down the road from me in Birmingham, than for her to be Queen in a country which is going down the toilet, while she lives the life of luxury in her palaces and castles.

I'm not a republican, but if you're going to have a King or Queen they should at least have moral authority. The Queen kept the throne while abdicating her moral authority. Better to have no monarchy than the sham we have at present.

Midlander said...

I should have added that I would be (and am) just as critical of any other head of state (eg an elected President) or any elected politician who violates God's laws, especially in destroying human life.

From what you've said about the Queen, her role in Britain is little more than that of a stately Mickey Mouse. For historical/traditional reasons one might prefer to have a monarch, but if the Queen's role is that of a puppet (or cartoon) head of state who can do basically NOTHING, then she is neither an example of what is good nor of what is bad. In her role as monarch she is virtually meaningless.

elena maria vidal said...

Fascinating discussion! Marvelous blog!

Tribunus said...

Dear Midlander,

I have permitted you space on my blog to air your views but you have taken almost no notice whatever of the arguments that I advanced to you and I cannot but come to the sad conclusion that you are not interested in arriving at a fair, just and reasonable conclusion on this issue but only to vent your spleen and your own peculiar prejudice against a Constitution from which you have had the good fortune to benefit but which plainly you are too ungrateful to acknowledge.

Not all heads of state have political power but that does not mean that they do not serve a useful purpose. Many republican heads of state have less power than the Queen but yet you make no campaign against them, nor use the terms of abuse and insult that you clearly reserve chiefly for the Monarchy.

Your tenor is not that of a seeker after truth and justice but that of an egalitarian leveller who rejects the hierarchy that God has seen fit to create in human society as also in heaven. It is not the abortion law that you primarily seek to redress but, clearly, the idea of Monarchy itself.

You claim to be as critical of other political leaders as you are of the Queen but I do not find it so. Your target is Monarchy and in this I do not find you either balanced, truthful or honest.

The tenor of your response does you no credit. It is not rational but rather rash, ill-considered and tends to expose a childish and petulant tone which cannot convince anyone.

You decrease the value of your arguments and opinions further by ignoring all the arguments contrary to yours and simply displaying what is evidently a matter of ill-feeling for you but not reasoned argument.

I entirely share your dissatisfaction with the state of society as it currently stands but I do not share your unwholesome feelings of envy that so overcome your reason as to make you unnaturally and unjustly bitter and insulting toward one of the few public persons who cannot be blamed for the current state of society and who has spent most of her life trying to maintain the personal standards that are so necessary for the support and maintenance of any society.

The Queen is by no means perfect but she has done much to set a good example to this nation. To compare the Queen with Hitler, as you do, shews the extent of your imbalance, incivility, irrationality and lack of moral proportion in forming judgments.

I have cited good authorities for views contrary to yours. You cite none but your own jaundiced personal prejudices.

You plainly do not understand what consequentialism is if you think that the views of St Peter, St Thomas and St Robert Bellarmine are encompassed in that descriptor.

You believe that the Queen could have acted as did King Baudouin but say not how it could have been done under our Constitution, nor provide the slightest evidence for your simplistic view that had she attempted so to do, no serious constitutional crisis would have arisen. It is but a flimsy guess on your part with not the slightest foundation in law or reality. Likewise you provide not the slightest foundation for your equally flimsy view that a refusal by the Queen might have influenced Parliament. The very reverse would more likely have been true.

Careless of what might have happened had the Monarchy fallen as a result, and without the slightest idea of what might have replaced it, whether such replacement would have made the slightest difference to the situation and whether it might, in fact, have resulted in even worse laws, you discount reality by ignoring the fact there was not but one evil choice for the Monarch to face but several, only one of which is the one to which you, in your umbalanced moral compass, give the sole consideration.

Faced with a number of evil choices, it is open to the moral agent to choose that which seems the least harmful and it is by no means clear that, even if the Monarch were as free an agent as you falsely imply, it would have been the right one to endanger the whole Constitution upon the near certainty that in so doing she would have achieved nothing to prevent the abortion law passing but would almost certainly have precipitated a serious crisis which could have had ramifications well beyond the loss of the Monarchy or the passage of the abortion laws.

That you care nothing for these arguments shews plainly that you have but little understanding of the fundamental principles of moral theology.

Your aim, clearly, is not the overthrow of the abortion laws but rather the overthrow of the Monarchy to gratify your predilection for empty political gestures which do not achieve their ostensible aim but result only in constitutional chaos and anarchy.

The remainder of your comments tend more to indicate that your primary motivation is not a love of justice so much as an unwholesome envy at the state of life of others compared with yourself.

You seek, in the spirit of the Calvinist leveller or the Leninist destroyer, to scorn, ridicule and level the Monarch who did not devise or press the laws that you object to, whilst you express no similar desire to level those non-royal political figures who were truly responsible for those laws. Albeit you claim to condemn them equally, in fact, you do not do so.

That is not a spirit of justice but of envy and destruction for its own sake.

Take care that you do not dally with the very spirit of the Devil himself, that spirit that says "Non serviam" - "I will not serve".

It is precisely such destructive egaltitarianism and unholy envy that is the chief motivation of many a bloody revolution and which has been the complete undoing of Christendom leading to the very laws which you claim to hate and reject.

You assert that a Monarch should have moral authority but your method of achieving it is to ensure that there is no Monarch at all and that the field be left open to those who would oust the Monarchy and replace it with an even more pliable head of state who would pass even more immoral laws but this time with the power so to do and with even real euthusiasm. All this you would see done by a royal coup d'etat (for such it would be) without the slightest prospect that such a coup would change the laws you object to by one iota.

You are right: you are not a republican. You are an anarchist, which is worse.

Moreover you are a sour and ill-mannered anarchist.

If you wish to continue to be published on my pages, sir, you will curb your tone and school your manners.

If you cannot do so then you may post wherever you wish but you shall not be published on this blog.

Look to your own correction, sir, or look elsewhere.

Midlander said...

Sir, I see that my post has caused you offence, which I intended not, and for which I apologise.

While I should perhaps have responded more directly to some of the points you raised in your first reply to me of 14:05 on 6 November, nevertheless there is some considerable unfairness (as well as impoliteness) in your second reply of 07:30 on 7 November.

It does not follow that, because I believe our present Monarch has fallen seriously short of acceptable standards that I am anti-Monarchist: to call me an anarchist (is that better than a simple Republican?) is as unfair as it is inaccurate. The other labels you attribute to me suggest you mistake me for somebody else, whom I know not.

I acknowledge that I have not read everything of note written during the past 2,000 years and am not familiar with the text of the Angelic Doctor that you mention. However, if I am at fault for criticizing (you call it 'judging') the Queen, then surely no one can criticize ('judge') any elected leader who is the contemporary equivalent of those whom St Thomas was talking about. Unless you refrain from criticizing Prime Ministers and Governments, then you cannot berate me for my criticisms of the Queen.

Secondly, I do acknowledge (even though I didn't say so in my previous post) that we should 'honour' our rulers, to the same extent that St Peter said we should honour the Emperor. As I understand it, this means, among others things, that we should not be unduly concerned with questions about the legitimacy of their rule; it does not, however, require us to be silent about the truth and their violation of the laws of God.

I am not pressing for the removal of the Queen as head of state. I am not calling for the dissolution of the Monarchy in general or this Royal Family in particular. What I am saying, however, is that this particular Monarch is not a good example of what a Monarch should be.

There is a simple question to be addressed: In view of the legislation that the present Monarch has signed into law (and which she could have refrained from signing) has the Queen upheld the laws of God? Has she maintained a true profession of the Gospel? (It's not even as though she signed the laws on abortion, gay rights legislation, civil partnerships, cloning, etc. and expressed her personal or Christian opposition to such practices but said she was constrained by the Constitutional limitations of her powers).

If the Monarch has broken the oath she made before God and the nation at her Coronation, then this is a serious matter. If you believe that her signing of the immoral legislation I spoke of does not count as breaking the oath, then I would be grateful to know what she might do which would count as breaking the Oath.

You are free to disagree with me if you wish, but I think that the points I have raised are reasonable and reasonably expressed.

God save and bless the Queen!

Cathy said...

This is a very interesting topic, and the discussion has been fascinating too even though there has been quite a digression.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I think Midlander has raised some good points. I'm just an ordinary Catholic who has no axe to grind about the monarchy per se, and i'm willing to accept that the Queen has been a dignified head of state. I think that Midlander's points, however, are legitimate. To me he seems more tongue-in-cheek (eg comparing the Queen with Mickey Mouse) than "sour and ill-mannered." I'll be interested to see how (or if) he replies next.

Tribunus said...

Dear Midlander,

Thank you for your gracious apology and subsequent change of tone which causes me to reciprocate by publishing your reply.

I think I have probably already answered the points you again raise but for the sake of completeness and partly in answer to Cathy, who asks for a further response, I shall simply add the following.

For the avoidance of doubt, yes I do disagree with you and that almost entirely.

1. Since the Monarch has not fallen short of standards in the way that you defame her for doing, it follows that your saying so is likely to lead a rational person to think that you object to Monarchy, per se. For the avoidance of doubt, I think it fairly obvious that an anarchist is far worse than a republican since the latter believes in at least some government whereas the former, in effect, does not. It follows from this that I do not consider my remarks unfair but rather very much to the point.

2. You are not merely criticising the Queen. You clearly consider she no longer has any right, morally, to rule. You said this: she “loses any legitimacy she may have had”. That is plainly a judgment. Your attempt to put the Queen in the same category as an elected politician manifestly fails, as does your attempt to compare her with a Monarch of former times with much more substantial powers. Thus you cannot compare judging the Queen with criticising her elected Ministers and your attempt to do so does not follow logically. You do not need to read “everything of note written during the past 2,000 years” but if you are going to expound upon Catholic morality then you must familiarise yourself with at least the principal authorities and sources.

3. You did NOT in fact agree that we should honour rulers to the same extent that St Peter said we should honour the Emperor for if you did then you would not have judged the Queen as you did. In St Peter’s time the emperors were – respectively - Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula and Nero, some of the most hostile of emperors to the Christian religion, all in a wholly different league from our Queen. Nevertheless St Peter says that they must be “honoured”. You boldly assert that you follow Peter but I think it is clear that, at least to this extent, you do not. There is more to honour than mere willingness not to question legitimacy.

4. You assertion that you are “not pressing for the removal of the Queen” is disingenuous. Your very first post made it abundantly clear that you denied her legitimacy. You said this: she “loses any legitimacy she may have had”. You are plainly judging her. You require the Queen to carry out a coup d’etat on the strength of your interpretation of her coronation oath. She has no power to refuse to sign the laws to which you object. Our Constitution does not give her that power and she does not get such powers simply because you think she has them or should have them. The residual powers of the Crown are very limited now as any constitutional jurist can readily demonstrate. What, therefore, you are asking her to do is, as head of state and fount of justice, to break the law in the most radical way possible for her and to defy the will of the democratically elected Parliament although she has no legal power so to do whatsoever. To pretend that this would not have meant the immediate or near-immediate end of the Monarchy is simply to defy reality and to live in a world of utter fantasy. Indeed, you almost admit as much when you clearly state “if parliament chose to de-throne her…”. Indeed. Parliament certainly would choose to de-throne a Queen who defied the Constitution and acted entirely illegally.

5. You say, without argument, reason, authority or source, that this “would be a price worth paying” as if it were obvious. I do not agree that it is at all obvious. Indeed, I think you are seriously wrong. The upshot would be the end of the Monarchy and no change to the abortion laws or any other such laws which are the creature of the democratically elected Parliament and not the Queen. To blame the Queen for those laws is so wildly cock-eyed as to be almost bizarre. You might as well blame the Pope for them because he did not protest specifically about them at the time they were passed, and then, equally absurdly, go on to consider him “one of the biggest tyrants that ever sat upon the [Petrine] throne” for the same reason. Your argument is simply absurd.

6. If, as you began by asserting, the Queen “loses any legitimacy she may have had” then far more so does Parliament and the democratically elected government in which case, there being no legitimate Queen or government by your standard, then we have no government at all whom Christian men can recognise. This is precisely anarchy. Yet you reject the label of anarchist. Moreover, you claim not to be calling for the dissolution of the Monarchy but, in reality, that is exactly what you are, in effect, calling for. You say she should have carried out what would unquestionably have been a coup d’etat and that, for failure so to do, she now “loses any legitimacy she may have had” as a Monarch. Your position is simply self-contradictory.

7. Your further difficulty is that you do not understand the Constitution of this country. This is evident from your claims that (a) the Queen could have refrained from signing certain laws – in fact, legally, she could not - and (b) she had the right to express (presumably you mean publicly) her personal Christian opposition to the laws she was obliged to sign when, in fact, she does not have such a right. You simply assume, without any legal basis whatsoever, that she has such a right or that she has the same rights as King Baudouin. As a matter of law, she simply does not. You further deduce that because she does not have that power that she must therefore be “Mickey Mouse”. That, as I have already pointed out, is also nonsense. Plenty of heads of state have no such powers but still fulfil a useful function. Your understanding is limited to two extremities: full monarchical power or no monarchical power at all. That is an absurd political solecism and demonstrates that you do not understand Constitutional Monarchy. That is not the fault of Queen Elizabeth. Moreover, it is not, in any case, for you to sit in judgment upon her to decide whether or not she has fulfilled her duties or followed the Gospel or whether she has done so “seriously” or not. Yet, ridiculously, you claim the right so to do. You do not have that right and power. Only her superior has that right and power. You are not her superior.

For these, and the earlier reasons that I have advanced, I do not think that your points are either reasonable or reasonably expressed.

You have targeted the Queen in a way that you show no sign of doing comparably to any other public figure, not even those who are really and truly responsible for the laws that you (rightly) abhor.

The Queen is an easy target for the facile critic but nevertheless your arrows miss her.

If you wish to apportion blame then apportion it to those to whom it is justly due - and not the Queen.

Tribunus said...

Dear Cathy,

Thank you for your post.

With great respect, yes, I think you are missing something – and something pretty big.

The Queen has been much more than merely a “dignified” head of state. Moreover, I take Midlander’s comments more seriously than you: I do not think he was speaking “tongue-in-cheek”. I think he meant what he said i.e. that the Queen is either a Hiterlite monster or her role is virtually meaningless.

He is wrong about both of those short-sighted judgments.

The short answer to the issue is this: the Queen has some few residual powers e.g. to resolve a complete Constitutional deadlock or impasse, or to restrain a rogue government that breaks the law in a way that the judges cannot rectify, but not really more than that.

That is probably about the sum total of her real political powers today. They are very narrow powers but nonetheless very important ones. Hopefully they will never have to be exercised but it is necessary that she retains them – for all our sakes and for the safety and security of the nation.

She does NOT have the power to refuse legislation beyond that and certainly not to pick and choose what legislation she wishes to approve.

She retains a purely nominal or ceremonial "power" to refuse legislation but it is not a real power save in the very rare and highly extreme situation of a deadlock or rogue government, as stated above. That is the current reality as regards her powers. She does not have powers much beyond that and certainly not the powers that Midlander ascribes to her.

If she tried to take those powers then she would have instigated an illegal coup d’etat against the democratically elected government of the day. If she did that she would not succeed in over-turning the abortion laws (or any other immoral laws). She would only succeed in nothing much more than ending the Monarchy and de-stabilising the Constitution and therefore the whole country.

And she simply does not have that right – morally, legally or politically.

Midlander pretends that she still has the powers of Queen Anne or Queen Victoria. She simply does not have those powers.

If, on the other hand, she really DID have the power to refuse any legislation i.e. as Queen Anne truly did (and indeed actually used during her reign) or as Queen Victoria still theoretically did, then Midlander would have a point.

But she does not have that power.

For her to take that power would be as illegal as you or I trying to take such powers. She would, in short, have become a revolutionary bent upon over-throwing the state.

Unless Midlander wishes to argue that we all, as Christians, have the obligation to start a revolution and overthrow the state because of our objection to the abortion laws, then he cannot expect the Queen to do it any more than the rest of us.

If he wishes to argue that we DO have that obligation I can argue that point readily, too. But he has not yet chosen so to do.

Cathy said...

Dear Tribunus,

Thank you for your answer to my comment.

I do not pretend to know very much about this question, but I have thought about this question a lot today, and I think it would have been better if the Queen had not signed the Abortion Act and the other laws that have been mentioned.

Today I phoned my brother who is a barrister (and therefore very knowledgeable about the law) and he said the Queen could have refused to sign these laws. He mentioned that if she had, then in all probability Parliament would have insisted on her resignation, and invited the next willing person in the line of succession to be crowned. From what my brother told me, I understand that her refusal to sign the laws would not have been the end of the Monarchy.

I know little enough about the constitution or the powers of the monarchy, but you seem to be saying that the Monarch has so little real power that it is rarely if ever exercised. Catholics are not obliged to believe that Queen Elizabeth MUST be the Queen of the UK, or even that there must be any Monarch. In which case, it seems to me that given the Church's teaching on the moral law, and its opposition to abortion etc., there is more to be gained by the Queen resigning on a matter of such principle, than if she signed the laws and stays as the Monarch.

I have just read Midlander's latest comments, and I am inclined to think that he is right.

Tribunus said...

Thanks, Cathy.

Sorry to say you have not taken proper cognizance of my arguments because I have very fully answered the points that you now re-iterate.

You simply repeat your initial points without addressing mine. In law, if you do not answer the opposing points then they will remain unchallenged.

Despite my explaining to you in some detail why the Queen DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER to reject the abortion and other laws and that thus, if she did so, she would be acting illegally and would, in effect, be staging a coup d'etat, i.e. would be seizing power when she does not have it, you seem unable to understand the point.

I do not quite see what your difficulty is in understanding this.

A person does not need to say "I am staging a coup" in order to be doing so. Bonaparte did so on the 18th Brumaire but he did not tell everyone that such was what he was doing any more than a criminal announces that he is going to undertake a crime before he does so.

And the fact that Midlander did not say "I think the Queen should stage a coup" does not alter the fact that his demand that the Queen refuse certain laws amounts to demanding that she effectively undertake a coup d'etat.

A coup d'etat does not need to be done with troops or police. It can be done at the stroke - or lack of a stroke - of a pen. It simply consists in an illegal seizure of power. That is the meaning of the expression "coup d'etat" (literally, "State Counter-stroke"). And that is what Midlander demands of the Queen. Nothing less than that.

Seeingly you demand the same of her.

Thus you go on to repeat yourself and say "I think it would have been better if the Queen had not signed the Abortion Act and the other laws that have been mentioned" shewing that you simply have not understood what you are really asking her to do nor that you are asking her to enact an illegal coup d'etat against the democratically elected government.

With great respect, I suspect you have not explained my arguments to your brother fully enough and he may have but a partial view of them.

I, too, am a barrister but barristers are specialists in their chosen area of law. I have taken part in a number of constitutional cases so I can speak with some direct experience.

Anyone who thinks that the Queen could have lawfully refused to sign these laws is, I think, simply misktaken. She cannot and could not do so lawfully.

If you think otherwise then you must state your reasons. You have not done so.

If she did attempt to do so, Parliament would not just "insist on her resignation" but would simply declare her act illegal, ignore her and then remove her and almost certainly the Monarchy as a whole.

After all, Parliament has done that before - it did it in 1688 with King James II when he tried to bring in toleration of minority religions and in 1642 when it removed the Monarchy altogether. So there are precedents.

Manifestly, even if it did not, the next "willing" person to succeed would have to be required to sign those laws so no benefit would be gained AT ALL and, indeed, a great deal of illegal loss for no good purpose.

If you "understand that her refusal to sign the laws would not have been the end of the Monarchy" then I think you seriously misunderstand.

Once the Monarch had so defied the democratically elected Parliament, such an event would not be allowed to happen again.

The only exception is the extreme situation which I have already several times mentioned as being encompassed by the Queen's only remaining residual powers.

That almost certainly means that the Monarchy would fall and be replaced by a system yet more compliant to the wishes of the government of the day, thus removing those vital residual protective powers which protect the Constitution and with concomitant loss of a vital constitutional safeguard.

Your mistake, with respect, is to think that the "Queen's assent" is a real and true assent on her part when, save in the very extreme case I mentioned, it is not real and true assent nor real and true power. It is what lawyer's call a "legal fiction".

This has been made reasonably clear by the higher courts (the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords) in a number of leading constitutional cases.

It is a very frequent occurrence that non-lawyers think that words used legally mean what is commonly understood by them. That is not always the case. One often has to explain this to clients.

That is the case here. You think the Queen has a free choice. She simply does not.

That is what you are failing to understand and, it seems, still fail to understand.

The Queen is now, constitutionally, OBLIGED IN LAW to act in accordance with the advice of her Ministers (i.e. the government) save in the extreme case I have mentioned and not much more.

That is a matter of law. It is our Constitution.

Thus, it is indeed the case that the Monarch has so little real power that it is rarely if ever exercised.

Indeed, this is a statement of the obvious to constitutional lawyers.

You then go on to say that "Catholics are not obliged to believe that Queen Elizabeth MUST be the Queen of the UK, or even that there must be any Monarch".

Once again you are gravely mistaken. Catholics certainly ARE obliged so to believe.

The Queen is a part of our Constitution, even if her powers are now small, and we, as Catholics, do NOT have the right to reject the Constitution, as you so casually suggest.

Catholics most certainly do NOT have the right to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they will accept or refuse, any more than the Queen herself has.

That was one of the principal points of my article and previous articles and you have, with great respect, misunderstood it.

It follows, therefore, that the rest of your argument is flawed by such misunderstanding.

You say, casually and without any proper regard to the consequences, that "there is more to be gained" from the Queen's resignation which again shews that you have misunderstood.

I can but repeat the points I made above about the extent of the Queen's real powers, which points you simply ignore and have not addressed.

There would be no "gain" since the laws would be passed anyway, the Queen's refusal declared illegal and both the Monarchy and its residual powers lost altogether.

False understandings lead to false conclusions. If the understanding remains false, the conclusion may well also be flawed.

I hope that is not the case here and that you now see the point more clearly.

If you can gainsay the argument or the point, then fine. But you must first address it. So far you have not.

Forgive me for saying so, but you will not succeed in doing so by mere repetition of your first, flawed, point, and no more.

Midlander said...

I have only just now been able to read your long reply to my last comment and also your reply to Cathy's comments.

I am on my lunch break and do not have enough time to respond fully now, but I have a query, which I think is central to the issue.

You say the Queen would act illegally if she were to refuse to sign immoral laws like the Abortion Act. My point is that she acts illegally if she does sign such laws. The Church, following St Thomas, teaches (as you may know) that an unjust law is not a law. Therefore the Queen would be acting (as would Parliament) ultra vires in signing into law something that is in fact not a law - as judged by the superior authority of the Church.

Furthermore, at her Coronation the Queen swore an oath, as I have previously mentioned, to "maintain the laws of God." She is acting contrary to the law of God (and thus illegally) if she signs the immoral laws like the Abortion Act.

The Queen's first duty is to uphold the oath she made at her Coronation, not to give way to the immorality forwarded to her by Parliament. Only in this way do the British people have a safeguard against a tyrannical parliament. By failing in her duty to honour the oath made at her Coronation, the Queen has associated herself with the tyranny of Parliament.

So, I would appreciate it if you could clarify your views on the following questions:

a) Do you accept that the Abortion Act is an unjust law?

b) DO you accept St Thomas' (and the Church's) teaching that such an unjust law is not a law?

c) Is it not ILLEGAL of Parliament to pass a law that is in fact NOT A LAW?

d) Is it not ILLEGAL of the Queen to sign into law that which is in fact NOT A LAW?

I would be interested in your response.

Tribunus said...

Thanks Midlander.

You are confusing to aspects of the debate: God’s law and the law of the UK.

When I said she would be acting illegally, this referred to the law of the land.

When St Augustine and St Thomas say that an immoral law is no law, they mean it is not a law morally i.e. it must not be obeyed if it means one is to act immorally thereby.

However, they would be the first to realise that human positive law does not always conform to divine or natural law and that the courts of a country are not necessarily going to recognise the rights of God, still less those of His Catholic Church.

That is certainly the case in the UK.

So, when Parliament passes an immoral law like the abortion law it acts “ultra vires” the law of God but not “ultra vires” the law of the UK.

The Queen does neither since she cannot refuse her assent (for the reasons already adumbrated in earlier responses). If you disagree then you are saying that the Queen has the power to overthrow the will of the democratically-elected Parliament which almost no-one will accept and certainly not the courts of this land. And the Queen has to obey the law just like the rest of us. Being Queen does not mean you can disobey the law.

As to her Coronation Oath, you read too much into it. It is, firstly, a Protestant and not a Catholic oath so it is doubtful exactly what it means by “maintain the laws of God”.

Secondly, it has no force in law and cannot be used to gainsay a Bill passed by Parliament.

The Queen’s first duty, according to law, is to do whatever the Queen does and that, in turn, is determined by constitutional convention.

You are right that, historically, the power of a monarch kept a potentially tyrannical Parliament in check but the Crown lost that battle during the Civil War and the “Glorious Revolution” (so-called!), as more than one judge has had occasion to remark in constitutional cases since.

The power of Parliament itself to restrain a tyrannical Executive has now also been made less clear by the courts, as you can see from the case I cited in response to Orestes, the bunch of hooey Yank.

Read it and you’ll see what I mean.