May 6 Coronation of Charles III

A Coronation Which Sounds the Monarchy's Death Knell

The Coronation of Charles III on May 6 at Westminster Abbey in London, England, provided evidence of how the persona that Charles is creating for himself is a fiction. He is a character in a play of which he is also the playwright. The role he has given himself in this play is of an actor said to be "modern," "progressive" and "green" who upholds what is being put forward for some time as the duty of human beings "to be of service." The entire three minute speech of the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Coronation was devoted to this theme of service.

As the head of state in a constitutional monarchy Charles' assigned role is to incarnate the unity of the nation for which purpose he is to remain above the fighting of factions and serve whatever faction forms the government at any time. One obvious problem with this is that the United Kingdom is neither united -- except by law entered into as a result of the use of force to conquer the subject nations -- and nor is it a nation. It is a state comprised of England, Scotland and Wales and part of the divided nation of Ireland, all of which it treats as "possessions." So too the relationship between the monarch and "his realms and territories" is acquired through conquest and whatever constitutional arrangements made the King or Queen of England the monarch of all these "realms and possessions." The "belonging" of these "realms and possessions" to the monarch is as fictional as is the notion that "their monarch" is a unifying factor. It is absurd.

The system which vests the supreme authority in the person of state was devised following the English Civil War after the attempt by Oliver Cromwell to establish a public authority did not solve the problem of how to provide a succession. When speaking about a succession the primary reference is to a system of rule whereby the supreme power is peacefully passed on to those designated to rule according to whatever arrangements exist at the time and place.

In France and England, the pronouncement The King Is Dead, Long Live the King (or Queen as the case may be) was first practiced in the 12th century to make sure there was no power vacuum. It was to avert civil wars and wars over control of territory and the spiritual authority at a time the King might be away, even for years, fighting a war elsewhere or on a Crusade, for example. Wars between conflicting interests were constant in Europe during the Middle Ages. The Hundred Years' War was a series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of England and France during the Late Middle Ages. It originated from disputed claims to the French throne between the English House of Plantagenet and the French House of Valois. It lasted for 116 years, from 1337-1453, with the English trying to reclaim the Duchy of Aquitaine and other lands and also pressing a claim to the Kingship of France. By all accounts, these wars were incredibly ferocious. According to one source's colourful description, when the people conscripted to fight for one side or the other "weren't being slaughtered by arrows raining down from the sky, soldiers were hacked or pounded to death by swords, axes and hammers."

Today, besides the hereditary succession of kings and queens in the event countries are still saddled with monarchs who act as heads of state, an orderly succession is supposed to be guaranteed through the system of elections in what is called a representative democracy. In line with Covenant Thesis adopted in the 17th century to bring England out of Civil War, "the people" belong to a nation-state represented by a head of state, either a hereditary monarch or a president who wields the supreme authority and, in turn, is said to represent them. This Thesis established the European nation-state as the model adopted or imposed on all the countries of the world since then. Unless a system of government and rule is deliberately established which is not based on Covenant Thesis, it is the monarch or head of state who writes the story of what he/she represents -- a story enforced through a formal Constitution or constitutional convention or both. They define what are called the democratic institutions and the democratic process.

It is not the people in whose name they speak who write anything, decide anything or control anything because they hand over their authority to representatives. In this regard, elections said to be to make sure they have representation are in fact the point at which their disempowerment is consummated. Their vote authorizes others to represent them which means to speak and act in their name. Furthermore, because the people entered into a Covenant to create this person of state and to be represented by him, ipso facto, whatever he represents is what they stand for -- and that is that. When the people elect a "representative" to "act in their name," that representative represents the monarch and pledges allegiance to the monarch, which is to say, the representative must be a representation of the representation of the supreme power as represented by the monarch.

According to convention of "King (or Queen)-in-Parliament," as well as in the case of a Republic, sovereignty -- the decision-making power -- is vested in the legislative assembly which is said to represent the people -- the commons -- and curtail the otherwise unlimited powers of the head of state. The monarch is said to represent the united people on the basis of values handed over by God and be merely symbolic.

Despite this, there is nothing symbolic about the system established to enforce those values in which the persona of the monarch plays a part which is integral to every aspect of life -- from coinage to nomenclature of topography, streets, towns, cities and provinces, to signing every law without which it cannot be enforced, to commanding the armed forces, to how matters of crime and punishment are weighed on the scales of justice, and so on. Members of the parliament pledge to represent the monarch, or in the case of the United States and other republics, as well as Quebec, "the people" or "the constitution." The issue thus comes right back to what the constitution represents, how it defines "the people" and who constitute "the people" and what "the people" are said to represent.

The serious problem today is that elections no long guarantee an orderly transition of power. While the electoral system in a representative democracy is for purposes of disempowering the people by handing over their authority to those who represent the monarch or head of state, today people clearly see that they have no connection to the process. Elections are designed to form a party government and today the parties are mafia-like organizations, omerta and all, which form cartels to keep those not part of their exclusionary clubs out of power. They are fashioned by oligopolies who get paid to form parties, run parties, create the issues, attack the others contending in the election and so on. These are enormous electoral machines which control media, courts, the judiciary, the electoral process, all to sow disunity and civil wars. The rivalry between factions today is such that they no longer recognize what used to be called "the rules of the game" or they manipulate them in such a self serving way, the people they claim to represent have long since ceased to see themselves represented by them. "Not in my name," "not in my community," not my democracy," "not my king," are all statements to this effect.

The cartel parties in the parliaments and legislatures are integral to the oligopolies which have usurped the decision-making power as a result of the privatization of the state itself. These oligopolies intervene in the political domain in the form of cartels and coalitions which influence the decisions of states. Their factional fighting is going out of control of the existing forms adopted 400 years ago to keep them in check. The shenanigans in the British Parliament during and after Brexit are testimony of this, as is the high level of anarchy and violence which is taking such a huge toll in the United States where there is absolutely no consensus on what the Constitution stands for, let alone who constitutes "We the people."

The insurrection which took place in the United States on January 6, 2021 during the session of the Congress held to confirm the election of the next president seems to be far from over, no matter how much the electoral machine presenting the current president of the United States for re-election uses the judicial power to turn his rivals into outlaws. The unprecedented level of corruption seen in the use of prerogative powers of presidents and supreme court justices and ministers and, in Canada, the constant enactment of laws on the federal and provincial basis to give ministers "the right" to act with impunity in the service of narrow private interests are but a few examples of persons of state and ministers who claim mandates despite elections which are not seen by the people to confer mandates of any kind.

Today we see one faction smashing the limitations imposed on the police powers by the Constitution in the name of maintaining the constitutional order to ensure a peaceful transition of power. We see rival factions directly smashing the Constitutions in order to remove the limitations they impose on the police powers exercised by the heads of state and Ministers. In this vein, Charles III has also set a course for himself to smash the limitations hitherto seen to apply to him by the convention of King-in-Parliament and the allegedly symbolic role he is said to represent. He clearly sees it necessary to come out swinging to advocate the "unifying values" he as the person of the British state represents. His every word has been to tell one and all that the values he espoused is what they also espouse because he is their representative and they must recognize him as such in order to guarantee the stability of the constitutional order.

When the values the state represents are not seen by the people to be the values they stand for, what is to be done? How do you force a people to acquiesce to something that goes against their conscience? The conception of doing things in the name of "the greater good" has been abused one time too many. It has been trampled in the mud one time too many. The people have been asked to sacrifice their interests in the name of "the greater good," and carried the burden while they watch the rich get richer at their expense, one time too many. An increasing number of them are no longer willing to forsake their conscience in the name of "the greater good." Whose greater good would that be which convinces the people to look up to it and consider it their duty to 'obey'?

The coronation of Charles III and his wife Camilla was such a sordid manifestation of power and privilege that only a very minuscule few could see themselves represented in it. The message it conveyed of service and volunteerism to replace a modern society which recognizes the equality of membership of all and their right to take the decisions which affect their lives cannot square the circle of the failure of the state to meet the needs of the people. The evidence of  the wealth of the royal family and those considered to be their "peers" and what they do to protect that wealth is an offence to any modern conscience. Meanwhile, the institutions of the public authority that are supposed to take care of the people have either been destroyed or no longer function. Such a state of affairs tears to shreds the fiction of the person of state and constitutional arrangements it is designed to preserve.

Far from "tradition" preserving the stability of the constitutional order, the ruling class is destroying the constitutional order all by itself. It  is smashing the limitations imposed on their own prerogative powers and in so doing the rule has become one of police powers which operate above the rule of law. Furthermore, it is enforcing the constitutional limitations which were designed from the beginning to keep the people in check by imposing "reasonable limitations" on their rights and freedoms. These limitations gave rise to what was known since the 19th century as a public authority based on the utilitarian philosophy known as "the greatest good for the greatest number." Self-serving arguments about national security have now increased these limitations to justify defaming, criminalizing, marginalizing and even outlawing those who speak in their own name and  are thus said to destabilize the constitutional order. Charles' direct interventions in the matters of state will not make the monarchy and its fundamentally elitist design either modern or palatable.

This coronation of Charles III and his wife, far from representing a new beginning for the monarchy, sounded its death knell. The way forward on the path for democratic renewal and a modern constitution can begin by abolishing the monarchy with the aim of establishing a system which vests sovereignty in the people, as defined by the people themselves on a mass democratic basis.

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 6 - June 2023

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