Of course, this exorbitant sum falls on people who don't particularly want a monarch, but then we also subsidize opera houses when some (most) people don't want opera, theater for people who don't watch plays, and libraries when some people don't read, so I think that's fair enough.
In short, the monarchy would seem to be justified by the fact that people want one.
Yes, well, I can't bring myself to get worked up about it. It's benign, as you say. And I rather like the old ways. For example, I like the way that MPs resign by taking the office of the Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds. Apart from anything else, it confuses the fuck out of foreigners ... it would nearly have been worthwhile to keep pre-decimal currency on those grounds, just so one could explain to American tourists how many groats make a florin.
I agree that a republic would be more "rational", in the vaguest sense of that word, but then so would eating nothing but health-food, and I don't do that either.
Does she have any veto power over bills that are submitted for her signature?
If not what happens if as a matter of principle she refuses to sign a bill?
If I remember rightly, Queen Anne once refused to sign some bill about soldiers' uniforms just to prove that she could, and that's the last time it happened.
There was something that came up in ... I forget ... Belgium, or the Netherlands ... the Queen of whichever country it was had some sort of conscientious objection to signing a bill about abortion, so it was seriously proposed that she could abdicate in favor of her son, who would sign it and then abdicate right back in favor of her. I don't know how the situation was eventually resolved.
We're a democracy, the government's legitimacy comes from the people's vote.
Not really. If a private citizen such as (say) Richard Branson, organized a national referendum, it could be as free and democratic as you like, but it would have no legitimacy, because it would be outside what dwise1 would call the chain of command. It would be like me going up to a colonel and telling him what to do: my instructions might be good and necessary ones, but he wouldn't obey them.
Morally the legitimacy of the government may be derived from democracy, but constitutionally the Queen does come into it.
Well if you want to go down that path, there is no authority except that which can taken and defended by force or by negotiation.
Well, I did not go down that path. I never said nor implied that might made right. But every democratic country has a constitution, a way of doing things. Richard Branson's referendum may be as democratic as you please, but it's not the way that the British do things. Likewise, if it could be shown that Mitt Romney was way more popular than Obama, the Americans wouldn't change Presidents. There's a constitution, a way of doing things, to which there is a broader consent than there is to mob rule; there is even a broader consent than there is to the particular constitution. The most ardent republican would probably agree that the actions of Her Majesty's Government are more legitimate than Richard Branson's plebiscite, because it is important that we should have a way of doing things.
If I could start from scratch I would make the UK a republic and rewrite the US constitution so that Thomas Jefferson himself wouldn't recognize it, but that's just me. By and large, it's best that I can't.
But isn't the legitimacy of the government dependent on the queen in the same sort of nominal way that the queen is the commander in chief of the British armed forces?
Yes, of course. I wasn't trying to suggest that she has any actual power.
I'm just pointing out that under the current setup the legitimacy of the government is derived from the British constitution and not directly from the popular will. Now, the British constitution has a monarch in it.
I wasn't really asking about the legitimacy of the monarch. Just trying to get an explanation from UK as to why they would want a "Royal" person.
Oh, well, in that case I'm not entirely sure.
Except, I guess, the Queen is a symbol. Why do Americans get all upset when people burn the flag? It's only a piece of cloth. But when things become symbolic, they become emotionally conflated with the things they symbolize.
I would never be able to call another human being, Your Royal highness.
I don't think that that form of address is actually required, but if it was, you might still find it within your powers to do that if it was a choice between that and being rude to an old lady.
But beside that, she does have the symbolic value I referred to. She is, albeit by mechanisms we might not entirely approve of, the British Head of State. If there are rules that say how you should behave towards her, and you break them, you are "dissing" Britain and representing your nation as uncouth.
A British person who thinks that the American constitution is stupid and who would have rather voted for McCain if he had the choice should still address Obama as "Mr. President" rather than "you dumb n*****", shouldn't he? --- because to do otherwise would be taken as an affront to the whole nation, and the people who would so take it would include 99% of the people who don't want him to be President. Their personal respect for him might be at rock-bottom, but they would still demand that he should be shown proper respect as Head of State.
What the heck is "Royal" about any monarch?
Er ... being a monarch. That makes them royal. This is true just by definition.