Do we want a lobbyist as our King?

August 13th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

The office of the Prince of Wales has said he had a right and a duty to communicate privately with the government “on any matter he chooses”, after the extent of his private meetings with ministers came under renewed questioning.

An analysis of palace records showing that Prince Charles has held private meetings with cabinet ministers at least 36 times since the 2010 general election was seized on by campaigners for a republic who said it showed he was “a political operator and businessman with direct access to government”.

Charles has met the prime minister, David Cameron, seven times and in many cases held meetings with ministers who have responsibility for areas in which he has taken a particular interest, according to the Daily Mail.

The idea of having a Monarch, is that they are politically neutral. When a monarch is more of a lobbyist than a politically neutral figure, then the rationale for remain with the monarchy weakens. Why should one hereditary lobbyist get unfettered access to Ministers to push his personal views?

Hat Tip: No Right Turn

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53 Responses to “Do we want a lobbyist as our King?”

  1. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    1. If you had a clean sheet of paper for our constitutional arrangements you wouldn’t choose a monarchy
    2. Changing to a different structure can be fraught – the move from the privy council to our own supreme court I haven’t seen as overwhelmingly successful, and it’s more expensive
    3. Our effective head of state is the governor general. The NZ govt appoints him, with consultation across parties, to a largely ceremonial role
    4. Moving to another arrangement for head of state is very unlikely to give us something so simple. I find it very unlikely that a new president or other construct would give us quite so low maintenance and apolitical structure
    5. The monarchy doesn’t actually cost us anything
    6. Charles is a tool and is very unlikely to ever be king. The fact that the UK government feel obliged to listen politely to his witterings is not our problem, and not a reason to beat the republican drum again

    In short, I don’t think that becoming a republic is even remotely on the priority list of things to change about NZ. And I struggle to imagine a world in which it became one. Even if it turned out they were going to make Charles king, I still wouldn’t be convinced that we’d care, since our GG is the person we care about and we pick them. NZ has lots of problems and lots of things we could spend time on. This isn’t one that I see as important.

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  2. jims_whare (404 comments) says:

    My original opinion stands – keep Queen Lizzie as head of state ad infinitum.

    When she dies she keeps her role – and agents can sign laws on her behalf.

    No problems or scandals can arise and Charles will never be King.

    Can’t see it happening

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  3. dime (10,133 comments) says:

    Im all good with it :)

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  4. kowtow (8,780 comments) says:

    Better than all the rich and famous who have unfettered access as it stands at the moment.

    The Saatchi and Saatchi types who have private dinners with PMs and plot to change the flag etc without reference to the rest of us.

    The political class at the moment constitute a dangerous ,undemocratic elite.Prince Charles is no different to the rest of them.

    But then republicans will clutch at any straw to destroy our present constitution which has served us so well for so long.

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  5. Kea (13,359 comments) says:

    The idea of having a Monarch, is that they are politically neutral.

    No it is not. The idea of having a Monarch is that someone unelected, and unaccountable to anyone, can rule over everybody else and do what ever their inbreed mind can contemplate. Every other living being is simply there to serve them.

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  6. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I think the correct question should be “do we want a lobbyist as president,” which is what we will end up with if we have a republic.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am uncomfortable with a hereditary head of state, but the alternative is no better. Nobody has proposed a model that is better than the status quo, so if there is no benefit in change why should we change? The current arrangement where the queen doesn’t interfere seems to work. I don’t imagine for a second that a presidential office wouldn’t evolve and change to something that was never intended.

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  7. Manolo (14,076 comments) says:

    The other side of the coin: imagine President Bolger or Clark. Heaven forbid.

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  8. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I think President Bolger would be a good thing, actually. I’d prefer President Sir Roger Douglas though.

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  9. RRM (10,032 comments) says:

    I don’t have a problem with them!

    You can only throw your heritage away once, then it’s gone. (Along with any worthwhile chattels it may have had associated with it.)

    Throwing away our ability to appeal to the Privy Council was the worst thing the Clark Govt did. Republicanism movement war cries just remind me of that.

    “Pakeha” heritage of New Zealand matters too.

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  10. flipper (4,224 comments) says:

    I don’t have no problem with him meeting with Ministers et al….. so long as you, he, and I have equal opportunity.

    Having met the man, having sat across a dinner table frim him, and having debated several issues with him and others, over pre-dinner drinks, during the course of a three hour long dinner (more on that in a forthcoming book, I think) party, I judge his intelligence as being that of the average “well bred”, very well educated, individual, who is not endowed with any special non qualities.

    He is (well, was) a pleasant enough fellow, but history has proved him to be every bit as human as any man – he lies.

    It is the position he holds that MUST disqualify him from anything more than proper access to Miniusters…no more, no less.
    My personal experience tells me that his view might occasion an enquiry to a Department, but no special attention beyond that which would be accorded, say, Ralph Norris, Douglas Myers or Colin Giltrap.

    Gerry M would have more influence.

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  11. flipper (4,224 comments) says:

    What I said above is true, and not self aggrandisement.

    My view (above) of Charles stands, except to say that “with any special non qualities” should read “without any obvious special qualities” :).

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  12. SHG (319 comments) says:

    I judge his intelligence as being that of the average “well bred”, very well educated, individual

    Great, you just described George W. Bush.

    In my own experience, average well-bred well-educated individuals are the sort of people who withhold vaccinations from their children (because of TEH AUTISMS), go to chiropractors (because of TEH ENERGIES), and go to homoeopaths instead of doctors (because of TEH BIG PHARMA CONSPIRCARY).

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  13. iMP (2,422 comments) says:

    it is a Constitutional MONARCHY. I want an intelligent Monarch who meets regularly with the prime minister, talks thru ideas and policy. This has always happened, I don’t see what the problem is. Communication, especially between a Monarch and his/her Cabinet is vital, surely. He/she is the Monarch of the realm. If they feel their people are suffering in, say, housing, they have EVERY RIGHT to raise that with their GOvernment who all hold warrants FROM THE MONARCH. Hello?

    Historically power has been held in balance between The People and the Monarch, the most stable form of government (Britain) on the earth. It’s ain’t broke, let;’s not ‘fix’ it otherwise we’ll have Oliver Cromwell or Barack Obama all over again.

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  14. Redbaiter (9,638 comments) says:

    No harm in the king being a lobbyist.

    The real issue is that he’s a prog idiot.

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  15. thedavincimode (6,877 comments) says:

    I think President Bolger would be a good thing, actually.

    You should start wearing a hat when you stand outside in the sun.

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  16. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Charles has met the prime minister, David Cameron, seven times

    Whose fault is that? Clearly, Cameron is weak and can’t say no. If Charles has any influence, it’s only because the Tories allow him to.

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  17. Ashley Schaeffer (513 comments) says:

    I support the British Monarchy but concede that Prince Charles is probably overstepping the boundaries here. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it weakens the rationale for having a Constitutional Monarchy. I wouldn’t describe him as a hereditary lobbyist either. He is a hereditary Prince, but a lobbyist by choice.

    A Constitutional Monarch is required to be politically neutral, but the Queen also has a right to express her views on Government matters to the Prime Minister (on a weekly basis). Regardless of her views, the Queen has to abide by Parliament’s rulings. Where does Prince Charles fit into this? Well, his role as Prince is to support the Queen until he becomes King, but his activities would appear to fall outside the scope of that support.

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  18. tvb (4,517 comments) says:

    I am sure Prince Charles will settle into the role of a constitutional monarch. If not then the British will find a way to get rid of him like his Great Uncle.

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  19. Griff (8,203 comments) says:

    What I said above is true, and not self aggrandizement.

    Tui.

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  20. Kea (13,359 comments) says:

    No harm in the king being a lobbyist.

    The real issue is that he’s a prog idiot.

    Eg: No harm in the king being a lobbyist for the things Red supports.

    I prefer my representatives elected. That is why I am not living in North Korea, Red’s spiritual homeland.

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  21. wreck1080 (3,970 comments) says:

    Beats having a constitution based on the principles of the treaty of waitangi.

    the monarchy has no real power over us anyway.

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  22. david (2,564 comments) says:

    It is obviously not that he has been lobbying but what he has been lobbying about.
    I can imagine the shrieks of horror being stifled pretty damn quickly if he stuck to trying to persuade the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about England’s stance in the UN on the use of anti-personnel mines or the Minister of Defence to station a greater force in the Falklands or the Minister of Prisons campaigning for better rehabilitation facilities etc etc but the reality is that he and his views are known and judged to be a bit whacky so he becomes a fair target.

    The Firm (between them) support a heap of causes and it would be amazing if there were not a few quiet words spoken in support of them given the opportunity. Would Diana have been wrong to talk to the Health Minister about Aids support within the NHS?

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  23. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    The idea of having a Monarch, is that they are politically neutral.

    Personally, I cannot see any real constitutional requirement, need, or even precedent for this.  It is only really an argument that republicans make, rather than anyone else. 

    I have no issue with the monarch or the heir to the throne having a political position, nor with him or her communicating that to his/her government.  It is always up to the elected government whether to accept or reject the monarch’s opinion.  Past British monarchs have been quite capable of working with governments whose policies they personally disagreed with, and vice versa.

    It really is a non-issue.

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  24. MT_Tinman (3,259 comments) says:

    Why the hell shouldn’t Chas have an opinion?

    Why shouldn’t he express that opinion in private to the people who make decisions?

    He’s not ordering actions, just requesting them.

    For mine I note NZ voted for nine long years of Clarkula hell, an opinionated but completely inhibited Chas as king is far far better than a Clarkula – Bolger type elected head of state so, DPF, my answer is “YES”, definitely yes.

    I don’t agree with his opinions but by damned I’ll allow our young men to fight for his right to express them,! :-)

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  25. Longknives (4,888 comments) says:

    You guys are aware of some of the fucking frightening ideas getting bandied around by this ‘Constitutional Review’ Panel??
    If we ditch the ‘evil’ Monarchy we will end up the bloody Zimbabwe of the Pacific.
    There was a Maori Academic speaking with Willie Jackson about the ‘Constitutional Review’ on TV recently. Amongst other things NZ is to be ‘Governed’ by a “United Nations of Hapu and Iwi”.
    When someone asked “Do Pakeha get a say?” -The answer was something like ‘It’s not their country so the Rednecks don’t get a say’!
    When this happens you guys will be praying to get the British Monarchy back!

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  26. Fentex (1,039 comments) says:

    While I’ve no doubt Chuck seeks to profit you’ll not be able to see from without that he isn’t instead sensibly keeping an eye on a government that rules by his mothers leave.

    Given that a constitutional monarch is expected to be a last bastion against evil governance (as Carlos of Spain once demonstrated) he couldn’t be blamed for that.

    The real problem demonstrated here is not Chuck talking to the government but the secrecy. Many, and I”m sure I recall DPF being one, argue that lobbying is only to be expected and is appropriate where people are free to associate and organize, and is perfectly okay if done transparently in the open.

    It is the secrecy that undermines claims of propriety. Let Chuck talk to ministers as long as his, like that of any lobbyist, meetings are properly minuted and published.

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  27. Kea (13,359 comments) says:

    Longknives , I share your concerns, but find it unfortunate we much clutch to English kings & queens because we can not sort our own country out.

    Having said that, the UK is infected with PC white man hating madness and is a great example of what not to do.

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  28. mikemikemikemike (331 comments) says:

    Coming from a pollster who works for a party that sells legislation, a party that has more direct business contacts than ever and whose leader is in fact a major player in big business…Rich does not even begin to describe your hypocrisy DPF.

    Lets be honest, if the Prince was all about free markets you would worship at his feet and beg to retain the the monarchy.

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  29. Nick R (513 comments) says:

    It’s interesting that people think there is something wrong in the Prince of Wales – the next King of NZ as well as the UK – having regular meetings with Ministers, or the PM. Constitutionally, the purpose of Ministers generally, including the PM, is to advise the Queen/King. The monarch actually makes law on the advice of Parliament, and implements it through his or her Ministers and the executive that supports them. So the idea that you can or should stop the the Queen or her heir from meeting with Ministers etc is basically constitutionally illiterate. They are the Queen’s Ministers.

    The idea that the monarch is politically neutral is a nice convention. Like wearing ties is a nice convention. It ain’t law and if the monarch suddenly decides not to be politically neutral, the constitution has nothing to say about it. At that point if you don’t like it you have to change the constitution. That’s what happened to Charles I.

    None of this makes it ok to have a monarchy. But what you cannot do is have a monarchy like ours (where the Queen has real constitutional power) while pretending that the monarch is politically neutral and bound by the same rules as everyone else. It aint so.

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  30. berend (1,716 comments) says:

    DPF: Why should one hereditary lobbyist get unfettered access to Ministers to push his personal views?

    Talking about pushing views: why should our government have passed a bill like the sodomite “marriage” bill without us getting to vote on it? No one campaigned for or against it. It was just sneaked in.

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  31. Longknives (4,888 comments) says:

    Berend- Just like the Shiny-new Constitution will be ‘sneaked in’ without any consultation with the (Non-Maori) NZ public.
    “All Hail President Hone!”

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  32. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,923 comments) says:

    Red got it in one. Charles is an idiot.

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  33. s.russell (1,646 comments) says:

    Well put PaulL! My view is pretty much the same.

    I do think that monarchy is a illogical anachronism, and so count myself a republican. But as others have already observed, the system works well and the problem with pushing for change is the danger of getting something worse, like an elected president, who would inevitably be a politician and just create constitutional problems through clashes with other elected politicians.

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  34. Mark Unsworth (41 comments) says:

    You mean Lobbyists are not Kings ?

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  35. Bad__Cat (141 comments) says:

    Like others have commented above, I support the Constitutional Monarchy mainly because it works. By having a (neutral) royal heir becoming the next monarch, we end up with someone nearly all ranges of the political spectrum.

    Also, as we are an independent nation we can opt not to accept Bonny Prince Charlie when his turn comes up. Personally I’d prefer to have King Harry as the next king of New Zealand. He’s proven himself as a soldier in Afghanistan, and his character would fit in we’ll down under.

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  36. Akaroa (588 comments) says:

    I have to say that i think the people who canvas for a Head of State from New Zealand – although doubtless honest and sincere in their opinion – are mistaken. It is a concept that IMHO would never work – at least not in any satisfactory manner.

    Surely people can see that – whoever New Zealand might nominate as its Head of State in place of the Buckingham Palace element – any home grown candidate will be at a disadvantage and have a sizeable built in, disapproving and opposing section of the population from Day One?.

    I can think of several home grown ‘Public Figures” who might qualify for the post, but for whom I – and doubtless many others – might have considerable difficulty in feeling any support, or the allegiance – not to mention affection – that we currently feel towards the Monarch.

    The beauty – not to say value – of a distant monarch lies in that very distance. Their separation from the daily grind of NZ domestic events and politics is the precise element that sets them apart from any well-known home grown political hack, ‘face’, old soldier or other local personality.

    No. A ‘home-grown’ Kiwi Head of State is a non-starter in my book. The present arrangement with a distant monarch and a home-grown Governor General is about as appropriate as we’re likely to get it. Leave it be!!

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  37. Ross Miller (1,706 comments) says:

    I have huge respect for the Queen but I morphed from being a monarchist to a tepid republican once Charles declared that his greatest wish in life was to be a tampax.

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  38. Black with a Vengeance (1,866 comments) says:

    Rather a lobbyist for a king than a bankster for a prime minister.

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  39. peterwn (3,312 comments) says:

    Perhaps an addition to the Bill of Rights 1688 (UK) is needed with UK, NZ and other appropriate administrations passing equal amendments to curb the lobbying capability of monarchs.

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  40. oob (191 comments) says:

    This subject was explored magnificently in series two of House of Cards (the real one, not the new one dumbed-down for American audiences) series two, To play the King.

    Ian Richardson playing opposite Michael Kitchen. This is just about as great as serial drama ever gets.

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  41. Kea (13,359 comments) says:

    Rather a lobbyist for a king than a bankster for a prime minister.

    Sooty with an attitude, the difference is one is elected and the other is not. Can you guess which one is the elected representative accountable to the people and which is born into a life of unearned privilege accountable to no one ?

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  42. scrubone (3,105 comments) says:

    The idea of having a Monarch, is that they are politically neutral.

    And here’s me thinking that the idea of a Monarch is that they ruled the country. Silly me!

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  43. Kea (13,359 comments) says:

    scrubone, I mentioned that at 12:17pm and check out the thumbs down I got :)

    Seems facts are not popular things on this topic.

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  44. Warren Murray (314 comments) says:

    Im pleased that most respondents disagree with DF on this matter.

    I think it’s quite positive that Charles has these discussions with ministers. It should inform him on how government works and the limits of the monarch’s powers.

    DF is quite consistent in his views of our monarchy. Most people see the status quo as better than any alternatives. I’d prefer we consider more important issues.

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  45. itstricky (1,904 comments) says:

    Why should one hereditary obbyist get unfettered access to Ministers to push his personal views?

    Sure he’s not supposed to have political bias but when you consider the royal fortune it’s a little like status quo of ‘lobby group with most money wins’. They DO have the ‘most money’. So are you mearly against this because he might be lobbying for something you don’t agree with?

    I think I’d prefer tinkering by Charlie.

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  46. UglyTruth (4,552 comments) says:

    If we ditch the ‘evil’ Monarchy we will end up the bloody Zimbabwe of the Pacific.

    Ditching the monarchy is part of the process of eliminating the corruption within the current system.
    Making something less corrupt has got to be better than retaining the status quo.

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  47. Longknives (4,888 comments) says:

    “Making something less corrupt has got to be better than retaining the status quo.”

    Yeah because having a ‘Race-Based’ Government stacked with members of the criminal Harawira family would be so ‘less corrupt’…

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  48. UglyTruth (4,552 comments) says:

    Cutting ties with the monarchy doesn’t mean that the government will be what you expect, Longknives.

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  49. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    DPF says Why should one hereditary lobbyist get unfettered access to Ministers to push his personal views?

    No different from the beltway bending the ear of their party when they are in government.

    Love the royals, the thought of a Peter Dunne type -dunne bugger all except be a politician – being my head of state is too horrible to contemplate.

    A question if anyone can be bothered – who still living would be considered honourable enough to be our head of state . And I mean honourable in the truest sense of the word.

    And off with the head of any wanker who nominates an All Black.

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  50. V (750 comments) says:

    Get a grip!

    So on average he has met with someone in the govt. once a month over the last 3 years? It’s very unclear he has had any influence at all in terms of policy, and given that he deals with many charities etc why can’t he talk to members of the govt. and pass on questions or concearns of the community?
    Sure he’s a bit batty with his organic gardening etc but he probably won’t be King anyway because the Queen is likley to live on to a ripe old age and Charles will be too old, the public will demand William. Camilla will probably talk him out of it to opt for a country retirement.

    DPF has probably spoken with National party cabinet members heaps of times, does this mean he has “unfettered access to Ministers to push his personal views”. The average joe certainly doesn’t have as much chance.

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  51. dave_c_ (224 comments) says:

    Kea got it absolutely right from the outset (and in such concise and emphatic manner !)
    Everything they do is calculated to give no one else but themselves ‘privelege and power over all’

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  52. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    I used to run into Charles quite regularly at Old Windsor Polo, early 70s. His mum used to turn up driving a Rover 90. No bodyguards. I’m not just self-aggrandising. Oh no.

    I feel sorry for Charles. We do not choose what we are and he had a miserable childhood. Mum used to greet him after a long absence with a handshake. Then he couldn’t marry the woman he loved because she is Roman Catholic. He’s a decent enough chap of modest intellect. Not the sort of chap to do any harm. What more would you want in a monarch?

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  53. UglyTruth (4,552 comments) says:

    He’s a decent enough chap of modest intellect. Not the sort of chap to do any harm. What more would you want in a monarch?

    Someone who knows how to assess threats in today’s complex world? Traditionally this is the job of the king as commander in chief.

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