When Queen Elizabeth II (God bless her) is no longer with us, the throne will pass on to King Charles III (God save us).
That’s how it has always been: the rules of succession are chiselled in stone. Sometimes, however, they can be re-chiselled, as they were by the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act.
Until then, the eldest male heir was first in line, even if he had an elder sister. That arrangement went back to the primogeniture specified in the Salic Law, which is to say to time immemorial.
That, of course, was too discriminatory for our woke (Conservative!) government, led at the time by that self-proclaimed ‘heir to Blair’, Dave Cameron. Having thus established his aspiration to follow in the footsteps of easily the most revolting resident of 10 Downing Street, Dave was true to his word.
Displaying a fanatical determination worthy of better use, he pushed through the homomarriage law, and any number of other affronts to tradition. One of them was changing something in existence for centuries: succession to the crown. Now the eldest sibling, male or female, will inherit the throne.
However, for any foreseeable future that particular affront will have only an academic significance. For Charles isn’t just the eldest male heir, but also the eldest heir, full stop. The same goes for his son William and William’s son George.
Having just scolded Dave Cameron for playing fast and loose with tradition, it ill-behoves me to propose yet another change – and I shan’t. But I wish I could.
For the Princess Royal, HRH Anne, though only fourteenth in the line of succession, stands head and shoulders above the 13 forerunners, and specifically her elder brother. She is consistently the hardest-working royal, a patron of 200 organisations.
However, Prince Charles runs her a close second in that department. Where she towers over him is in such faculties as intellect and character. We desperately need a monarch like Anne, who’d be able to offset to some extent the faddish wokiness of our politicians.
A British monarch has no – or, anticipating casuistic objections, next to no – executive power. The monarch, however, performs vital constitutional and cultural functions, most having to do with spanning the distances of time and geography.
The former has to do with providing unbreakable continuity between generations past, present and future. The latter is unifying all Commonwealth countries into one of the oldest extant alliances in the world (formerly known as the British Empire).
Those functions make our monarchy an inherently conservative institution. A monarch in the thrall of pernicious fads loses the thread of continuity, thereby bringing into question the very existence of the monarchy.
That’s what makes Anne, and doesn’t make Charles, an ideal monarch. For Anne openly despises her brother’s obsession with every wokish perversion coming round.
While her brother hugs trees and talks to vegetables, HRH Anne can barely contain mocking smiles and words. For example, one hobby horse that Charles rides is GM crops, which he fashionably derides (in the kind of fashion set by the same people who’d do away with the monarchy at the drop of a crown).
Anne would have none of that: “It has been an enormous advantage in many parts of the world to use GM wisely for very specific environments. It makes it much more likely to be able to grow what you need… .”
Charles carries on for ever about the perils of ‘climate change’. This is now the accepted wokish term because ‘global warming’ has been discredited by the demonstrable fact that the Earth’s climate has been cooling for the past 30 years.
His sister is openly contemptuous: “Climate changes all the time. It has done so throughout the globe’s history, so there’s nothing new under the sun.” Absolutely. And for about a third of the Earth’s lifespan the climate has been warmer than now.
Charles, though not a vegan himself, respects veganism and vegetarianism. This is de rigueur for any card-carrying wokeman, which is what Charles is.
But not Anne: “You can’t have a world without livestock. They are a necessary and very constructive part of our expectation to feed ourselves… We need livestock as part of the genuine mix that keeps land healthy.”
And then, most tellingly: “Perhaps my biggest irritation is single-issue groups…” She might as well have said ‘my brother’.
As a conservative, I’m opposed to unnecessary changes to ancient institutions that show the honourable patina of time. That’s why I don’t think monarchs should accede on merit – like it or hate it, but upholding traditional succession is more important than any single reign.
However, the English Common Law is based on precedents, and one such was established by the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act, when Parliament overrode an ancient practice. So in theory it could do so again and bypass Charles in favour of his much better qualified sister. Barring that, some sort of regency arrangement could be set up, with Charles talking to courgettes and Anne to heads of state.
That will never happen, will it? Unlike Anne, Charles is in tune with modern times and therefore modern parliaments. Most MPs, including those on the Tory benches, see nothing wrong with Charles – and doubtless plenty wrong with Anne.
HRH Anne, a Leo like me, will turn 70 in August. Wishing her a happy upcoming birthday, one can only sigh wistfully about the great queen we’ll never have.