What Is Meant by the Word 'Sovereignty'?
What Is Meant by the Word 'Sovereignty'?
This is a topic which has had much written about it but in respect to the monarchy and Australia where we refer to the king or queen as Sovereign it can be defined as supreme authority. The sovereignty of the monarch consists in her being King-in-parliament i.e. she rules through parliament which is a reflection of the wishes of the majority of people and she is ultimately responsible for letting right be done to the people. She is in fact the representative and guardian of all the people.
A useful analogy for understanding sovereignty comes from a mix of historical sources where the symbol of the chariot of the body is used to describe the component parts of monarchy: the Sovereign is the charioteer, the horses which pull the chariot (which is the State) are the people and the reins are the parliament. The charioteer steers the horses and chariot into safety by applying a light touch to the reins. The horses can sometimes be swept by passion but it is the charioteer, through the careful use of the reins of parliament, who can ensure that the passions are controlled sufficiently for a good path to be found for their expression.
Sovereignty (the supreme and ultimate authority) rests in other words with the Sovereign as She is the people i.e. the guardian of the welfare of the people at all times. That is why all members of the Federal parliament must constitutionally declare an oath of fealty to the King. They are in fact, through the King, declaring their subservience to the people. We, the people, elect our politicians to represent us but they must declare on oath of loyalty to the King who is our Guardian. The fact that today many oaths of loyalty have been removed is ultimately detrimental to our freedoms. When we refer to ‘the Australian people’ and swear an oath to them, it has no substance because it has no sense. One cannot swear an oath to millions of people as they have no unified voice. It is only through the Sovereign, whose whole life is dedicated to serving the Australian people and thus being in fact they themselves, that sense applies. Were oaths of allegiance to be made mandatory on all politicians (and judiciary) our freedoms and political processes would become more resilient. The same thinking applies to immigrants who become new citizens. All should be allegiant to the King by oath.
The Governor-General is our Head of State when in office and can be seen as effectively taking temporary control of the chariot. The same constitutional processes apply as the Governor-General takes advice and operates through parliament. It is the King who appoints the Governor-General on the advice of her government and it is only the King who can dismiss a Governor-General (or in some cases prolong an appointment). This logic applies to the State Governors who are representatives within their respective States.
The King, residing as she does in her oldest realm for most of the time, does not carry out the day to day functions of office as these are left to the Governor-General but her existence, wherever she happens to be, is sufficient to maintain ultimate order. She is aware at all times of what is happening in the country as the Governor-General regularly informs her and of course she has advice from her own staff as well. The day to day dealings of management are carried out by the Governor-General and it is the Governor-General who commissions a new prime minister or calls an election and has, if needs be, the prerogatives powers to sort out constitutional problems. The King is watchful from a distance and as she herself has said it is ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.
Sovereignty is absolute, it cannot be logically shared nor is it ever willingly placed in the hands of the people because then there is anarchy. Our system of hereditary constitutional (or parliamentary) monarchy is the finest system for a free society yet devised as it is ultimately reliant on one person whose life is dedicated to the maintenance of order and good government at all times. It has evolved over hundreds of years and has become what it is now. Some might say that authority needs tightening and that the King should have more powers but it is far better that the King not be open to abuse from her subjects who might feel that through the use of these theoretical extra powers she has disturbed the peace. It is for politicians to wield the day to day power but it is for the King to wield the ultimate power by simply existing. Of course there are subtleties interwoven throughout these outlines but the essence is that the existence of the Sovereign denies ultimate power to politicians and others. When one Sovereign dies the transfer of ultimate responsibility is immediate. There is never a time when our sovereignty as a people is in doubt.
The people are the natural control on authority and the monarch-in-parliament is their guardian and it is for the politicians and judiciary to maintain this modus operandi. Any prime minister or politician who disturbs this balance must ultimately be prepared for dismissal or possible non-election but whatever the case, our sovereignty is solid.
The United Nations and its sanctioning of interventions in certain countries, the actions of various of our governments which have signed treaties without reference to us and even the judgements of the International Criminal Court have together weakened our sovereignty. The EU is an example particularly pertinent to the UK and it is these areas that we as a people need to be aware of and to sometimes raise concern.
We always have to be on guard to maintain our King and our sovereignty through the upholding of the Constitution. Unscrupulous and power-seeking politicians and pressure groups will often do their best to circumvent or change the Constitution to suit themselves.
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