Solving the democracy deficit through modern science
With the impending union of male and female royalty breeders, there
has been increasing tendency to cite Thomas Paine's evergreen mockery:
"the idea of hereditary legislators is as inconsistent as that of
hereditary judges or hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary
mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an
hereditary poet-laureate." (Paine never got to see the number of
mathematician children filling the posts in most of today's leading
mathematics departments, but the point is well taken.) Seen as the
monarchical version of an election -- the keystone of the procedure by
which a legitimate head of state is created -- a Royal wedding certainly feels a trifle arbitrary.
But this opposition to monarchy, though it wears the finery of
modernity, has failed to keep up with advancing technology. True, it
might formerly have been the case that the hereditary principle made the choice of head of state no different from a lottery (for which, see this suggestion).
It seems impossible to unite the hereditary principle with the
increasingly popular beliefs that rulers should be selected by some
non-random process, and that hoi polloi should have something to say about it. But now the following arrangements have been announced by the Palace (a particularly sodden corner of the palace wine cellar, to be precise)*:
Following the wedding, a selection of at least 5 royal
spermatozoa** will be extracted and fully sequenced by a specially
selected team at the Royal Institution for Genetics Pedigree Studies.
The secret method (which, in a nod to popular taste, does use beer as a
reagent) has been designed to be maximally non-destructive.
The sequences will published on the website princesperm.gov.uk. The public will have 5 days to register and vote for the one that they prefer be invited to form their new ruler.
The elected sperm will invited in the first instance to inseminate
the royal egg. Should it fail in its attempt, the second-place sperm
will be sent in. In the case of a repeat failure, a national referendum will be held to determine the correct voting procedure.
* It may be argued that this election proposal, being purely fictional
and even farcical, has no bearing on the justification or not of the
British monarchy. A dangerous argument indeed, for those who would
dispense with fiction and farce would leave central pillars of the
British constitutional order bereft of all foundation.
** Why are the future queen's eggs not also sequenced? Choice of the ovum is a royal prerogative, cf. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, v. 5, section 113 (Oxford 1765-1769).