Constitutional monarchy


George III was a constitutional monarch: an executive constrained by laws and institutions. For the most part, the so-called constitutional monarchs of today are in fact symbolic. Except when there’s a hole in the constitution; then the ghost of past power re-emerges and Kings, Queens and Governors-General of Canada or Australia actually get to decide something, like a president of Italy or Germany.

The live case is when a government loses its majority in the legislature. New election, or try to form a new government under a different prime minister?

In the United Kingdom, the only authoritative guidance is, believe it or not, offered by an anonymous letter to The London Times in 1951 by the King’s Private Secretary, Sir Alan Lascelles. Lascelles reckoned that the monarch should try the second option. But it hasn’t happened yet.

PS: the Governor-General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, is a black woman of (bourgeois) Haitian origin. So Canada beat the United States to it on two counts.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web