Prince Andrew: Time to go

“The gas can be turned up and the gas can be turned down,” the minister said, but stressed there was no question of removing the prince. “The royals go on, that is what they do,” he said.

This was said not about the Saudi royal family in light of the pro-democracy movements sweeping the Middle East, rather they are the words of a UK cabinet minister speaking about the British royal family in today’s newspapers. The power the Royal family wield and the public money they claim is entirely a matter for their own discretion. Prince Andrew apparently cannot be sacked from his ‘voluntary role’ at the UK Trade & Investment government agency despite becoming a national embarrassment with his cosy meetings with despots and criminals.

Former Foreign Minister Chris Bryant tried to raise the issue of Prince Andrew’s position and lack of accountability on the floor of the House of Commons. “Isn’t it time we dispensed with the services of the Duke of York?” he asked.

Amazingly he was scolded by the Speaker John Bercow for daring to ask this much-needed question:

“References to members of the Royal Family should be very rare, very sparing and very respectful. We have to be very careful in our handling of these matters.”

Do we? Why? Are we living in Thailand where it is illegal to criticise the Royal Family? Or Brunei where the Constitution states “His Majesty the Sultan can do no wrong in either his personal or any official capacity” and further admonishes that “No person shall publish or reproduce in Brunei or elsewhere any part of proceedings that may have the effect of lowering or adversely affecting directly or indirectly the position, dignity, standing, honour, eminence or sovereignty of His Majesty the Sultan”. It seems Prince Andrew shares a similar standing to the Sultan in John Bercow’s mind.

It is remarkable we know as much as we do about Prince Andrew’s activities as the Royal family are protected from public accountability by law. Last May in the wash-up of government an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act was pushed through granting the royal family an absolute exemption from the public’s right to know. Even before this, the Royals were not covered by the law directly. Instead the public had a limited right to make FOIs to public bodies about royal funding and lobbying of public officials. Now even that minimal level of accountability has been eliminated.

This is a travesty. As long as the royal family can cream off public money and influence public policy all without any form of public accountability then we are subjects not citizens and in no position to lecture anyone about democracy.

5 Responses to “Prince Andrew: Time to go”

  1. Wolfie says:

    Can’t we just sell the entire ‘Royal’ cancer off or is privatization only for services that actually benefit the UK public in the first place?

  2. ArthurR2D2 says:

    Still amazed after all these years how gullible the fore-lock-tugging pro monarchist British public are. I thought this gang of no good spongers were here by invitation of Parliament!

  3. Josef from WA ST, USA says:

    Great work, Heather.

    Nice to see you take a clean shot at them Royals… I, for one, believe they need to be held accountable. That means transparency in their affairs of state.

  4. OnlyMe says:

    I’m quite happy to have a Head of State plucked from the royal family, but there’s a deal that must be adhered to which is the entire Royal family must keep out of politics and also out of lobbying for businesses. They can get jobs, set up companies, but not use their royal connections for the country or for themselves.

    In other words, they can be real people and they can be figureheads and symbols but they cannot be lobbyists or politicians or ambassadors in any way, shape or form.

    They can’t very well tell Prince Charles to keep his nose out when they keep inviting Prince Andrew to do work for them. Same goes for Princess Anne’s lobbying/ambassadorial work, which has been criticised before for flying in the face of good Commonwealth relationships.

  5. OldRaver says:

    Oh, I don’t know. They make excellent tourist attractions and apparently add more value to the UK than anyone else ever!

    Have you noticed the talk of constitutional change, which has resulted in a FPTP/AV referendum – chosen by the government – is all that has resulted from this debate?

    There is NO CONSIDERATION of dispensing with the monarchy or even debating dispensing with the monarchy. All the talk of constitutional change is a top down plan to change, well, nothing. Any change in the voting system will not change the culture of westminster; the culture of theft by MPs or culture that rates parliamentarians as above the law and certainly not to be acquainted with the ‘little people’.

    Let’s dispense with the monarchy now, who cares about a figurehead?? Then we can talk about changing the constitution.

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