Over Christmas, Prince Philip was seriously ill. When this was announced, there were questions from republicans about the effect his potential death could have on the monarchy. This was considered the height of inappropriateness.
There has also been much discussion recently about the potential of holding a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher. A petition went round suggesting privatising the cost of such an affair. Again, the discussion was considered the height of inappropriateness.
Of course Prince Philip lives to insult another race - and at time of writing - Thatcher is still with us. But eventually they will both die. As will the Queen, Prince Charles, Princes William and Harry, Kate, Andrew, Edward etc. etc. etc.
The problem is that as long as we retain a constitutional hereditary monarchy, it will be at times of births, marriages and death that constitutional questions are raised. Because it is at these times that the rules are further enforced through decisions about lineage, heirs and settlements. As long as we retain the absurd belief that these titles are inheritable by birth and not earned by virtue and talent (and frankly, our royals have rarely proved themselves to be either virtuous or talented) then we are going to continue to question the monarchy at times of heightened constitutional awareness.
With recent revelations that it's not just heir to the throne Charles that likes to interfere with democracy but mummy too, the need to question the rights of the monarchy has become more acute. There are real and pressing questions to be asked about the role, necessity, importance and value of the monarchy. These will continue to be real questions even as the Queen becomes older and frailer. You can't stop questioning the institution just because the individuals are getting on.
If the royal sentimentalists don't want to discuss constitutional issues at sensitive times, then they need to take the constitution out of the equation.
If the monarch were no longer the head of state, it wouldn't matter a great deal to republicans who inherits the Queen's heavy hat. If the monarch were not occupying the position of head of state, there wouldn't need to be a debate about which Prime Ministers deserve a state funeral as it would be an all or none decision based on the role of head of state, not the whim of who is currently popular.
But as long as the British Head of State continues to be chosen based on their family connections, I'll continue that. And as any family will tell you, it is during the births, the marriages and the deaths that the real decisions are made. If this offends people, then they might want to consider how I feel about someone who thinks they are superior to me simply because of an accident of birth. Now that's offensive.
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