United Kingdom

Could Prince Charles Become A Revolutionary King?

Long Live the King?

Queen Elizabeth II has been the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, but what will the monarchy look like when her son, Prince Charles of Wales, ascends to the throne?

While the monarchy is mostly a symbolic institution for the state and the government, the role of the monarchy within the Unites Kingdom is meant to remain political neutral; showing no favorability of one party over another.

The UK is a constitutional monarchy, meaning that the monarchy has some technical state authority; however, it must be in line with the constitution.

The UK gives royal assent to Parliament who then has the power to create and enforce legislation.

Within a Parliamentary system, people vote on a political party who has its own leader.

The leader of the winning political party then becomes the prime minister and is made official by the monarch.

The prime minister meets weekly with the monarch to inform him or her of the current matters of state, but the monarch does not have the ability to set any political policies, at least not officially. 

Queen Elizabeth is well known for her lack of public political views.

But her son is something different.

Prince Charles seems to be challenging the political role of the monarchy by showing a large involvement in politics and voicing his opinions.

Some are worried that he may try to be a political force when he eventually takes the throne. (Queen Elizabeth is 90 years old)

Photo Credit: University of Essex ./ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Prince Charles has been more transparent about his political views after the publishing of his letters to government ministers from 2004-05, also known as the “black spider” memos, about a variety of his political views in 2015.

In the memos, Prince Charles states his political views concerning problems ranging from dairy-farming to the UK’s armed forces in Iraq.

He has also in recent years become a strong supporter of taking aggressive action in combating climate change.

Even though the monarchy is meant to be apolitical, it seems strange that the rulers of a democratic society, where free speech is considered a natural right, are meant to keep opinions concealed.

Monarchs do not even have the ability to vote in this case because of their duty to remain neutral.

Why is this exclusive group meant to remain quiet?

If a monarch were to present opinions regarding matters of state and sway the opinions of citizens to be in favor of one particular political party, the monarch would then have some control within matter of state and forming legislation.

While they are meant to act as figure heads and a symbol of national unity, this could be viewed as undemocratic in the sense that monarchs are not democratically elected by the people, and would be in violation of the constitution.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft, a well-known journalist and strong defender of the monarchy recently launched a campaign to get Charles to step aside and allow his oldest son- Prince William take the throne.

This doesn’t seem to be a real possibility.

However the idea of a King who gets too involved in contemporary politics is a thought that has pierced through the British zeitgeist before.

In 1993, the British version of House of Cards ran a four episode miniseries titled “To Play The King.” In it, Conservative Prime Minister Francis Urquhart has to fend off a popular and strongly liberal King.

(Spoiler alert: Urquhart is able to win in the end because the British public grew uneasy with a King who involved himself so deeply in politics.)

Prince Charles is also considered “revolutionary” in the fact that he was divorced.

While Prince Charles is widely known, his ex-wife, Princess Diana, stole the attention and hearts of millions across the globe acting as an inspirational link between citizens and the monarchy.

Photo Credit: Peter Broster/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Previously, it was frowned upon for monarchs to get a divorce, let alone be in a relationship with a divorcee.

This was the main reason Prince Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee, causing his brother to take the throne and later his daughter the current queen.

Times have changed, but the perception of monarchs getting a divorce is not looked well upon, nonetheless the scandal surrounding the marriage of Charles and Diana.

Charles is also scandalous in the fact that it is rumored he was having an affair with his current wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall, while still married to Princess Diana.

Public opinion of a “King Charles” fell after the divorce and sudden death of Princess Diana.

Would the British public abide a King who tried to push a political agenda?

We might get a chance to find out.

 

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Cover Photo Credit: Steenbergs/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: Meet JEF, The UK’s Latest Measure to Shape International Security

On Nov 30th, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon committed the UK to a leading role in the freshly designed Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).

This force, composed of: the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Norway, will be a 10,000 strong unit designed to cooperate with NATO, EU, and UN operations.

JEF will be able to respond to a variety of missions including deterrence, interstate conflict, and humanitarian crises.

There has also been some speculation of Sweden participating in JEF, as the Swedish government continues its increasingly robust affiliation with the Atlantic Security system.

When looking at the list of countries taking part in this UK lead endeavor, one notices two things:

  1. All of the current contributors are NATO members, and potential contributor Sweden is greatly affiliated with NATO.
  2. This is a UK lead venture. While France and Britain have a similar integrated reaction force, the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), the most prominent member of NATO, the US is missing from these recent arrangements.

The establishment of these reaction forces, in addition to the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), potentially indicate a shift in European defense responsibilities in response to increased Russian adventurism, and the American “Pivot to Asia”.

Thus, Britain attempting to shift the weight onto its own shoulders is in keeping with historical precedents from 1950-1955.

In Anthony Eden’s account of the period in “Full Circle”, American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles threatened an “agonizing reappraisal” of American security policy should West Germany not be integrated into the European security infrastructure.

This was followed by the personal commitment of Prime Minister Eden to finding a diplomatic solution, and the commitment of four British divisions under international direction.

The addition of the West Germans into the Atlantic Alliance, due to the hard work by Her Majesty’s Government, convinced the Eisenhower administration that Europe was worth investing resources to balance against the Soviets.

Likewise, in the establishment of these various European reaction forces, Britain is taking the lead in directing European Security policy.

Cover Photo Credit: Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

White House Promises Increased Support In Europe Refugee Crisis

By Zoe Fowler

President Obama and his administration announced on Thursday that the U.S. will be accepting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees seeking asylum over the course of the next year.

Josh Earnest, The White House Press Secretary, said the U.S. gave $4 billion to humanitarian aid organizations to support efforts of the refugee crisis in Europe but “Obama has decided that admitting more Syrian refugees would help boost the US response,” according to The Guardian.

Secretary of State John Kerry said at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill that the total of Syrian refugees admitted could increase from 70,000 to more than 100,000, according to The New York Times. However, officials said not all of 30,000 of refugees would include Syrians.

The resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. won’t be immediate. The State Department said in a statement last week that the process could take up to 18 to 24 months for the Department of Homeland Security to decide if a refugee is eligible to resettle in the U.S.

The reaction to the U.S. accepting Syrian refugees has been mixed. GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio said he doesn’t oppose the U.S. welcoming refugees, but caution needs to be taken into effect.

“We’d always be concerned that within the overwhelming number of the people seeking refugee, someone with a terrorist background could also sneak in,” Rubio said at a town hall meeting last week in Charleston.

Republican presidential contender Donald Trump who has advocated for tougher immigration laws said the refugee crisis is a humanitarian issue that needs to be dealt with.

“It’s a serious problem,” Trump told FOX News. “We haven’t seen anything like it since the second world war, and it’s getting worse and worse.”

Meanwhile today, British Prime Minister David Cameron was in Lebanon and Jordan where he toured camps built for displaced Syrian refugees.

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Photo Credit: Freedom House/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

New Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn Picks Majority Female Shadow Cabinet

Newly elected British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has already caused a stir by choosing the first ever majority female shadow cabinet.

The announcement came earlier today. But according to the BBC, there has been some anger over the fact that many of the traditional “senior roles” were taken all by men.

John McDonnell was appointed as the shadow chancellor (a position most similar with that of America’s Treasury Secretary.) Many have seen this as a controversial appointment due to statements that McDonnell has made in the past.

From the BBC: 

“The Hayes and Harlington MP [McDonnell] has previously faced criticism for telling a union event that he would “like to go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher” and in 2003 said IRA terrorists should be “honoured” for taking part in their “armed struggle”, while attending a gathering to commemorate the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.”

While Corbyn and his shadow secretaries are not in government, they still have a large role to play in public life- serving as a counterweight to the ruling Conservative Party.

In a press release, Corbyn expressed his excitement of his cabinet.

“We have delivered a unifying, dynamic, inclusive new Shadow Cabinet which for the first time ever has a majority of women,” Corbyn said. “I am delighted that we have established a Shadow Cabinet position for mental health which is a matter I have long been interested in.”

Owen Jones, a well-known media personality and strong Corbyn supporter took to Twitter to express his opinion that Corbyn should put more women in the more powerful shadow cabinet positions.

     

 

You can read the full list of Labour shadow secretaries here.

Cover Photo Credit: DAVID HOLT/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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#VestGate: UK University Challenge Program Ignites Controversy Over What It Means To Be “Intelligent”

University Challenge, hosted by Jeremy Paxman and witness to the UK’s most intelligent of students going head to head to represent their universities, is a show which can clearly be seen to favour substance over style.

Focused on providing only the most gruelling of questions, its reputation is one of baffled English home-audiences rejoicing when answering correctly between themselves, university pride, and the classic jumper-collared-shirt combo. However, one episode, which aired last week, hosted one contestant whose choice of attire raised more than a few eyebrows.

Kamel Shah of King’s College, Cambridge, injected a certain amount of controversy into the show courtesy of his leather vest and gold chain.

Raising questions on the idea of propriety, some argued that the values of BBC 2, typically home of the straight-edged middle-class crowd, had been compromised. For many, the clothing choice was regarded as a sign of disrespect, aligned on ideas of good manners and appropriate attire which being on a show as esteemed as University Challenge supposedly demands:

However, the issue of the vest could be seen to prompt a much deeper discussion. When it comes to representations of intelligence, is there something inherently problematic in disputing the decency of someone who refused to toe the line of what many see as an out-dated ideal?

 It is no secret that questions on the University Challenge appeal to an educational standard more at home with the privately-educated than anything else; which isn’t to say that its audience must simply be privately-educated. It simply suggests that when questions are focused on, for example, literature of the 17th century, Latin translation, or minimalism in music, one wonders at the concept of common knowledge, and knowledge in itself.

An example of previous University Challenge questions:

Your starter for 10: A schoolboy play-on-words between Latin and English, what jocular translation is usually given to the phrase semper ubi sub ubi?

Three bonus questions on the opening lines of novels:

(a) Which novel, first published in serial form from 1914 to 1915, begins “Once upon a time and a very good time it was…”?

(b) “It was a dark and stormy night”’ are the first words of the 1830 novelPaul Clifford by which writer, whose other works include Eugene Aramand The Last Days of Pompeii?

(c) The novels Midnight’s Children, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Robinson Crusoe and Tristram Shandy all open with which word?”

What does intelligence mean and what is it measured by? When contestants famously previously failed to recognise a musical question sampling the modern R&B sounds of Frank Ocean, one must wonder as to what extent the non-typical, but very valid, contributions of the rest of the world are unnoticed by the majority’s standards.  

It is very likely that Shah’s vest is improper, a fashion faux-paux which does not do well to read too much into. We cannot be sure that he donned the chain and the vest to question the legitimacy of educational standards. However, it is also clear that the impropriety can be interpreted as a sign of defiance. Within the elitist environment with which we both patrol the playground of the deemed intelligent and set the standard, there are remnants of inequality which would favour the symbolism of, for lack of better words, of the jumper-wearer over the vest-wearer.

#GeekAndGangsta. The hash-tag speaks for itself. It’s clear our clothes feature their own identities, can speak without saying of our cultural awareness. But as culture is so easily manipulated, the inference of what this can mean cannot be easily decided upon.

The conclusion is that Shah chose to don non-typical attire on a game show set to test intelligence and provided the ripples of an aftermath which suggest that clothing is not just clothing: the underlying current of values being tied up with appearance, and in this case intelligence, is definite.

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