November 14

Are journalists really that ignorant?

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is 60 today. In the Herald Sun ("Prince Charles hits 60, still waiting," 14 November, 2008) David Murray sounds a mostly positive note.

Murray describes the comments of The Queen on the occasion of her visit to the headquarters of the Prince’s Trust – the charity set up by the Prince “to offer practical solutions to help change young lives”. Her Majesty was fulsome in her praise and concluded her speech as follows:

For Prince Philip and me, there can be no greater pleasure or comfort than to know that into his care are safely-entrusted the guiding principles of public service and duty to others.” (Text of The Queen's speech during her visit to the Prince's Trust Headquarters, 12 November 2008.)

 David Murray comments on this:

“Her words ride a coach and horses through the arguments of those who claim the monarch has considered passing the crown directly to her grandson, William”.

I know that some people are under the impression that The Queen can give the crown to whomever she likes. They do not seem to notice that the crown is not something The Queen can just give away.

There are settled laws of inheritance – sons do not inherit before their fathers – and there is a settled law of Royal succession. For Prince William to inherit before the Prince of Wales would require a severe ruction in the constitutions of sixteen independent realms (including Australia).

In the Glorious Revolution of 1688 Parliament decided it had the right to offer the crown jointly to Mary and her husband William of Orange in place of her father and his father-in-law, James II. Yet handing the crown to Prince William would make the Glorious Revolution a mere “constitutional tidying-up exercise” by comparison.

Nevertheless it is not surprising that some people somewhere think it would be the easiest thing in the world and that it would be enough to wish it, to make it so. In a large enough population you can find people prepared to believe anything.

The surprising thing is that journalists think this possible – even to discount it. Are they really that ignorant?"



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