Sat | Aug 19, 2017

The Queen and Jack(et) of Hearts

Published:Sunday | April 17, 2016 | 4:00 AM

The Gleaner reports that 'Sir Patrick could be out of a job' because it is part of the Government's legislative agenda to this year remove the British monarch as our head of state and replace it with a non-executive presidency.

Normally I would be on board with this. It was a pretty strict article of faith among the nationalists and pinko Christian-liberationists who grew me. And I was what the early Bolsheviks (and the CIA) would have called a 'fellow-traveller'.

Perhaps it's creeping age that has dampened my republicanism, but I don't find the Queen the complete effrontery I once did. I figure Elizabeth is a decent old bird, and more important, she wrote a lovely letter to my grandmother when Gran turned 100. That was years ago, and it may well have been signed by an absent-minded royal secretary, but it completely won me over. Unfortunately, despite all the political words, I am quite swayed by such simple acts. I know, right? I'm ridiculously sentimental, a political simpleton, completely unfit for the Revolution.

More than my non-relationship with Elizabeth, though, is my desire to keep Sir Patrick on the job. By virtue of his own steam and august bearing, I am not anxious to see him or his post pass into history. This is no Louis XVI requiring execution, although, to get further to the nub of the matter and down, as it were, to the nitty-gritty, there undoubtedly beats in Lady Allen the delicate heart of Marie Antoinette.

One's mind did stray to the scenario where Sir Patrick might resist going, only to have Andrew flourish a presigned letter of resignation from him. But then I remembered it was Bruce who appointed him. Whew!

So I suppose if there were a commitment that Sir Patrick will be made president, my view of disestablishing the GG's post would improve.

Looking at the Speech, it's worth pausing to underline one idea expressed from the Throne:

 

DEMOCRATIC TRADITION

 

"We have demonstrated yet again, in our recent election, that we can transfer power seamlessly ... . Our democratic tradition is one of those things of which we all can be justly proud. It is a tribute to both sides of this Honourable House that an election could have been so vigorously contested and closely decided, but when the results were in, they were accepted."

Real talk! Thank heavens for the democratic culture we have developed, where generally the losers in electoral contests accept the results. This doesn't happen in the truly miserable banana republics, but does in our slightly zany, psychologically draining, but nonetheless enjoyable Ganja Republic.

Anyway, the Government's legislative agenda hasn't even a remote chance of being fulfilled. In the first instance, the plan seems to be that Parliament should only meet once or twice monthly. That's not time enough to do much business. So, maybe Sir Pat is safe.

Still, I'm not sure how this new republicanism squares with the fierce Privy Council defence that was until, recently, a feature of the JLP's DNA. It seems disingenuous and impolite to be showing her the door while borrowing her judges.

As everyone will recall, this was no slight matter. So dedicated was Mr Holness to the proposition that the Privy Council must remain that he had then Senator Arthur Williams draft letters of resignation for his incoming senators.

After one big suit, the whole process was determined unconstitutional, with the court ruling that you cannot geld a man before appointing him. My observation for the court would be, however, that a man once gelded is like Humpty Dumpty, and not easily pasted together again.

 

BRITAIN'S SOCIAL LADDER

 

Another observation is that as we move to push away the monarch, I believe there are signs that Jamaicanism is creeping up the social ladder in Britain. One instance came forcibly and hilariously to public attention just recently. It turns out that the Archbishop of Canterbury might as well be a yardie.

Our Queen is the head of the Church of England and Jamaica, whose chief cleric is the Archbishop of Canterbury. Well, lo and behold, it was announced that this man is not who he thought he was.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, son of a whisky salesman, Gavin Welby, is, in fact, the son of Winston Churchill's private secretary, the late Sir Anthony Montague Browne. His mother had given his 'father' a full-service double-breasted 'jacket', with even the matching pocket handkerchief, to wear. What a thing to discover at age 60!

But Archbishop Welby is handling it well. He told the Telegraph: "There is no existential crisis, and no resentment against anyone. My identity is founded in who I am in Christ."

Let me freely acknowledge admiration for this superior human whose consciousness is far beyond mine. To find out that mama had dada sign a predated letter of resignation would be ruled unconstitutional in my court.

And I don't imagine that this is simply a result of bourgeois familial expectations, though if that's it, this fellow traveller confesses to that as well.

We Jamaicans are familiar with the thought that significant numbers of people have a different biological father than the man officially designated de puppa. And many a belly can get raffled between immaculate conception and birth.

I am no anthropologist, though I have observed that we have innovated a completely new and exciting social arrangement here, peaking at Christmas and carnival time. In our social system, men practise polygyny and women practise polyandry. Consequently, jackets are being stitched regularly.

There are copious tales of people finding out that 'daddy' isn't daddy, commonly when, on a visit to the US Embassy or British High Commission looking for papers to move closer to Elizabeth. Hopefully, the Queen will be more forgiving of our foibles now that her archbishop is one of us and it seems like we're not so different after all. Maybe I need to petition her to keep Sir Patrick and Lady Marie Antoinette safe.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.