Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter
Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter

It emerged today that Colin Firth, the lead actor in the new film "The King's Speech", in which he plays King George VI, may not be the biggest fan of the monarchy.

In an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN Mr Firth said that while the current royal family "seem very nice" unelected bodies are "a problem for me".

While it is obviously quite true that Her Majesty the Queen did not arrive at her current station via a squalid and dishonest election campaign culminating in an unpopularity contest, these are not good reasons for abolishing or reforming the post she now holds.

Before last year's election Mr Firth was one of the few prominent people to give his backing to the Liberal Democrats. He later withdrew his support from that party following their treachery/decision in the national interest on student tuition fees.

What I find rather odd about Mr Firth's, and others, objection that the monarchy is an "unelected body" is that the party he supported and in fact many parties of the left where anti-monarchist sentiment is most likely to be found, are actually quite keen on or at least quiet about far more important "unelected bodies".

The Queen, unelected as she is, has virtually no power to govern this country and on the rare occasions when she will speak to the nation will have her speech written for her by the elected government. On other occasions she may give her views on such controversial topics as the importance of sport or the King James Bible. This is hardly a threat to our democracy.

Now if one were so against the monarchy because of its unelected nature, one would assume that opponents of this centuries-old institution might be just as forthright in their condemnation of other "unelected bodies", especially those which have rather more power than Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

They do not as rule, for example, criticise the institutions of the European Union, such as the European Commission, which serves as an unelected politburo of 27 failed and/or discredited politicians (Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson come to mind). This body, not a single member of whom is elected, has considerably more power than the Queen in the running of this country as it proposes legislation which goes on to be rubber stamped by the European Parliament.

Indeed not a single week goes by without City A.M. having as its front page a condemnation of the latest crippling regulations on British business being emitted from the EU.

Then of course there is the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, a man who was appointed behind closed doors, rather than an election, cannot be removed by an election and earns a salary greater than the directly elected President of the USA, Barack Obama. Let us not even discuss the European foreign representative, Baroness Ashton, a woman who has never been elected to anything in her life except for Treasurer of the CND at a time when it was receiving money from the Soviet Union.

Another European body, although not part of the EU, the European Court of Human Rights, has recently caused a stir in Britain by ruling that prisoners should be given the right to vote in elections, regardless of the democratic will of the country, in theory expressed through Parliament. Is the ECHR an elected body? Does it have a mandate to decide this political issue? Of course not, it's made up of a group of unelected foreign judges.

However it's not just unelected foreign judges that are deciding public policy now. Just last week an unelected British judge decided that homosexual civil partnerships were in fact the same as marriages. This surely must have come as news to those homosexuals campaigning for "gay marriage" (it already exists according to this judge's logic) and it certainly came as a shock to a Christian couple who now have to pay £3,600 in damages as a result of not keeping up with the times.

Then of course we have the quangos, countless as the sand of the seashore, and yet they have less democratic legitimacy than men like Robert Mugabe and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Despite this these quangos often feel more than happy to interfere in politics.

One of the most well known quangos, the Commission for Human Rights and Equality, has launched an investigation into whether or not government cuts will have a negative impact on certain ethnic and social groups. If such an impact is found the CHRE has said it may issue compliance notices against the government, requiring it to changes it policies.

Financial regulation, votes for prisoners, gay marriage, government cuts. All of these are important political issues and all have been influenced or even decided by unelected bodies or individuals. Yet it is not these "unelected bodies" that are the scourge of our democracy according to the anti-monarchists, the real problem is apparently an elderly lady with no political power and no apparent desire to express views on any of these or other subjects.

Prince Charles if of course another matter. A man with known and sometimes unconventional views, there are concerns that should he continue pronouncing on his favourite issues when he ascends to the throne he could undermine the monarchy itself. Indeed I'm already bracing myself for the day when I'll just have to let my eyes roll when I hear King Charles III gives us all a sermon on "global warming" from comfort of his own jet.

But however much he makes his views known he will have no power to enact his will. For years he has of course made his views known through correspondence with ministers. Those elected ministers have never been obliged to follow the wishes of the Prince, nor will they when he becomes a King.

One of the few times when Prince Charles got his way was apparently when he managed to scupper plans for the redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks. Republicans and architects were in uproar at the abuse of privilege by the unelected prince. Yet the Chelsea Barracks decision was not a political decision but was under the control of private developers who even in the most democratic societies are not beholden to the electorate.

Compare this republican outrage with the approval and praise heaped upon Joanna Lumley, who used her celebrity status to strong arm the previous government into changing its policy towards the Gurkhas. The policy change, rushed through and good intentioned as it was, to avoid the wrath of Lumley, has since been criticised for its effects on both Gurkha's expecting a better life than they really find in Britain and on communities that have seen an large influx of Nepalese immigrants.

Whatever the cause being espoused why is it that the unelected Joanna Lumley is a heroine for using her influence to change government policy while the equally unelected Prince Charles is a sinister villain when he uses his?

In any case even if Charles turns out to be a disaster as King the British monarchy is a flexible one. There have been far worse kings than Charles is likely to be, Richard II, Richard III, Charles I and James II to name a few. Whenever the country is lumbered with such a dreadful monarch we have not been averse to choosing a different one. While such a fate is unlikely to befall Charles it only shows that monarchs, even in the Middle Ages, cannot do what they wish without regard to the will of the people they reign over.

If republicans really cared about the influence of "unelected bodies" they would do well to start with those bodies which actually have real power over public policy and the lives of real people, be they activist judges, quangos or international bodies like the European Commission. Instead they waste their time fretting over an Octogenarian with a love for dogs, her quirky son and the Privy Council. What a waste.