Prince Andrew’s conduct raises a key question: Britain’s head of state should be one person not a family
This is going to sound controversial but it isn’t really. The Queen was ill-advised to modernise the monarchy in the 1960s and to allow her children to become celebrities.
Simon Jenkins, former editor of The Sunday Times, raised this point the other day and I thought it was eminently sensible.
Britain, he said “is unlike – if not unique” among monarchies. In the 1960s, the Queen most unwisely “decided to update the monarchy to collectivise it from one individual person – herself – to all her children. It made it seem as if she was being modern, but in fact it made the monarchy vulnerable to any misbehaviour on the part of the children”.
This, he said, turned the children into celebrities. “As celebrities they were in the public eye, they carried out public duties and whatever they got up to would inevitably reflect on the monarchy itself. It was a very high risk thing to do and ever since then I would have thought she would be regretting it”.
He pointed to the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians. They have one person who is the national Head of State who performs various public duties in the name of the whole state…When you turn it into a family, you’re complicating it hugely”.
Going by this argument, the British monarch isn’t fit for purpose. It needs to be rejigged for our times.