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Common Cents

Crown Royal

Ralph Murphy

(8/20/2014) Monarchy as a political institution has changed over time largely in conjunction with developments in economic interests and associated complexity in social interaction. What worked well in medieval rule appeared too rigid to cope with the demands of wealthier people and plurality of interests. The facade of power remained, but the reality of rule shifted leaving a dangerous misconception as to what was government and what charade.

The world currently harbors 44 nations which maintain a monarch as sovereign ruler. 16 of these are among the 53 member British Commonwealth. All of the latter recognize the crown as "Head of State". While largely ceremonial the position does link the international grouping with England and forge an associated identity. An often "false sense of security" has developed which is manipulated by shifting strategic alliances and media opportunists who have found a high profile and attractive target largely void of defenses. Physical security associated with government remains, social application about as resolute as that afforded entertainers. The public now often equates the two, and it's undermining Westminster as well as much of the continent.

Hereditary links prevail over much of the 12 European monarchies, this especially since the 16th century. At the time monarchs enjoyed "Absolute Rule" with extensive powers over what was largely agrarian or small business economies. The family ties between principalities were said to offer "bonds of kinship (which) tended to restrain aggression".

As economic and social interests became more complex the "Absolute Rule" was replaced by "Constitutional Monarchy" which vastly limited the King or Queen's role as the result of revolution or associated evolved legislation. The Europeans are now almost all "Constitutional Monarchies" where the structure continues. All the major economies have devolved power to respective Parliaments.

Internationally the Middle East nations of Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia support monarchies which continue to wield considerable power. If history is any precedent though these will have to become more pluralistic to accommodate varied interests should the economies diversify or political pressures include varying components.

The Far East also maintains the monarchs with Japan's emperor the longest continuous one traced back to 660 BC. The nation is also the only major power to afford the ruler a mystical status as he is said to be the descendent of Amertersen or the Shinto "Goddess of the Sun". Shinto has over 8 million deities some animate others inanimate and are called Kami. The concept is roughly approximate to a western "Holy Spirit" in the animate, but the Japanese don't bring them together in a singular God concept though the Sun Goddess is apparently the most revered. Some concession to the belief is afforded by the emperor's designation as "Tenno" which translates as "Heavenly Sovereign". Thailand and Cambodia also have largely ceremonial monarchs.

Religion plays a varied but important role in the European Monarchies, and is enormously potent in the Muslim nations. Most European countries with a royal lineage look to the Vatican or other alliances such as the Lutheran church for Scandanavia. The United Kingdom is an exception in that the royal is described as "The Supreme Governor of the Church of England". That dates back to Henry the Eighth who broke with the Vatican in 1536 to establish the Church of England with himself as its leader.

While the British monarch leads the church that person is scrupulously divorced from divine status. The 1559 "Act of Supremacy" which yielded an "Oath of Supremacy" called the King or Queen "Supreme Governor" rather than "Supreme Head" which they considered biblically based as Christ. The Queen works closely with the Prime Minister for religious appointments and the PM relies on Anglican Church leaders for guidance. Again as with the political role the religious mandate is ceremonial.

Europeans have practiced elective monarchies which use the system of voting to fill the role, and hereditary monarchies from which the transfer of power is passed down within a family group. The concern with the latter appears the potential for vast variance associated with genetic mutation and potential personality disorders. Birth can often yield similar physical characteristics in offspring, but the psyche can be quite different. There's little control over mental disorders as one example, and concurrently lack of flexibility in the rigid heredity ascription of placement.

The European monarchies are again to varying degrees without adequate protection from social forces to play a substantive or even desirable role. Spain is one recent example with influence peddling charges filed against a Princess. Britain is the worst case with a royal family unable to overtly speak out against a potential Scottish succession that would wrest a third of its land mass for a twelfth its population and insure both international reclusion and insignificance to both proffered nations.

It doesn't appear a lack of courage on the part of the royals. Their elective activities include military service and equestrian events indicating an ability to surmount physical danger. Britain doesn't require conscription. The family is getting hit harder by an unchecked media than virtually any other public figures internationally. Again the appearance to many of real power implies that government is vulnerable on a wide range of measures.

Publishing illegally offered images of the "Duchess of Cambridge" and "HIs Royal Prince of Wales" in western media show a scorn and derision among supposed support structures, coupled with opportunistic quick gain to providers, which can't continue. The Prince's mother Diana made an undisciplined leap to freedom which appears to have cost her life. Similar attempts risk the same fate though judging from the business and heredity interests, even minus the state property, that family would remain billionaires in the private sector. They don't need the ridicule or government charity events, but badly need the still available security.

It appears the royals there and on much of the continent would be happy with a casual government affiliation as respected social members of extraordinary ancestry but by birth or wedlock find themselves trapped and decieved. If the Monarch's remaining want to continue in their hollow capacity and society supports them so be it. If they want out a path should be cleared over time to permit that and spare all from the debacle of false lead and social upheavel. Again, time will tell.

Ralph Murphy is a former member of the CIA Headquarters Staff in Langley, VA.

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