(For simplicity’s sake, and to leave consistent anchors back into our own timeline, I’ve assumed in the Viner Codex series that the line of kings and queens in Britain – the monarchy – is exactly the same as in our timeline. In the Commonwealth, however, the role of the monarchy is radically different than in our timeline. This article explores the social implications of those differences; for political implications, see the matching article in the ‘Politics’ category; for historical implications, see the article in the ‘History’ section.)
As per the constitution for the Commonwealth outlined in the Agreement of the People, the monarch is just another citizen of the Commonwealth, of no more inherent importance than any other. Also as per the Agreement, the ‘right’ of the monarch (or anyone else) to hold onto greater wealth than others also soon fades away.
And yet there was still strong social demand – not just from royalists, but from traditionalists and many others too – for the simplicity and seeming ‘majesty’ of the monarchy. Before the Restoration could take place in 1660, a new role for the monarchy had to be established – a role that was still compatible with the explicit egalitarianism of the Commonwealth.
The ‘new monarchy’ established for the Restoration, and revised throughout the remainder of the 17th-century, included some political roles (see ‘Politics’), but was primarily that of figurehead and ‘social recogniser’ – that of acknowledging and honouring, on behalf of the people as a whole, good work and ‘good works’ by individuals and groups up and down the country, and often over longer periods of time.
The role often requires a fair amount of pomp and ceremony, and also of glitter and glamour. In this sense, ‘the monarchy’ still somewhat resembles its previous surface-appearance: the huge difference is that it is by request of the people, rather ‘as of right’ by the monarch.
The system of ‘nobles’ (lords/ladies, earls, knights and suchlike) is maintained for similar reasons, with similar ‘social-recogniser’ functions, but at a more regional or local level, or on behalf of a particular discipline or profession. The role of the Earl of Leicester (Coke of Holkham Hall) in the story-fragment ‘The Frenchman’s Diary’ illustrates this: the Earl represents his local region, and also the disciplines of farming and agriculture.
Last Update: August 25, 2017