Oak Apple Day was first celebrated in this country on the 29th of May 1661, to commemorate the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 and the escape abroad of Charles II, partly by hiding in an oak tree after his defeat by Cromwell at Worcester (hence those pubs called ‘The Royal Oak’). People up and down the land would congregate in churches to give thanks for the return of their King to his Kingdom – a triumph of good sense and generosity and a victory for the rule of law. It was officially abolished alongside two other services in 1859 by Parliament’s Anniversary Days Observance Act.
This year the anniversary falls two months after our secession from the European Union. As we once again become an independent country, what a splendid reaffirmation of the Queen’s prerogatives, rights and responsibilities as the Sovereign and Head of State it would be to once again mark this historic day.
The monarchy is in crisis and celebrating this day would bring about the serious contemplation of its vital role in our nation’s story that the public so badly needs. The Queen exists only as the nation’s favourite grandmother, while we slide blindly and inevitably towards becoming a grim, concrete, urban republic. Her survival is personal, not political. People openly declare the once unconscionable notion that upon her death we should skip a generation and hand the throne to William, Diana’s son, and a generally more youthful and palatable option for the modern Briton.
If the monarchy declares itself subject to the whims of public opinion, as expressed via plebiscite or otherwise, there can be no doubting that it would mean its demise. Buckingham Palace would become a stuffy museum and we would continue down the path to a grey, left-wing utopia.
If the monarchy declares itself subject to the whims of public opinion, as expressed via plebiscite or otherwise, there can be no doubting that it would mean its demise.
We are no longer interested in the story of how we came to be so free and happy in this country. We concern ourselves so relentlessly with the histories of minority groups that we forget, in my opinion, the greatest story of them all. Isn’t a retelling of tales such as Charles The Second’s escape and concealment in an oak tree long overdue? Recent years have seen an attempt in our media and politics to pour scorn on a traditionalist education in our country’s monarchy, poetry, music and literature. These people would deprive our youth of the means of knowing and understanding Britain’s history and character.
Liberty and the rule of law are the great treasures which arose out of England’s unique story. In general, they are founded on the Magna Carta principle that law must stand above power, in unanimous jury trial and the practical presumption of innocence and habeus corpus. After the Glorious Revolution, our Bill of Rights received Royal Assent in 1689 and asserted the rights of Parliament and the Monarch. Liberty and the rule of law are often now wrongly conflated with the more modern invention of democracy – universal suffrage did not arrive in this country until 1948.
While Republics seem to succumb again and again to the torture chamber, secret police and tyranny, constitutional monarchies remain remarkably free places
Constitutional monarchies tend to be the freest places on the planet. Of the 7 long-lasting and consistently free nations on earth (UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland the US) most are constitutional monarchies, and most were forged to imitate the British pattern. Denying politicians the grandeur of head of state and by extension having someone apolitical in that position creates a barrier to majoritarian rule and elective dictatorship. Patriotism is readily identifiable as a loyalty to the crown and not to a President. This important distinction has meant the while Republics seem to succumb again and again to the torture chamber, secret police and tyranny, constitutional monarchies remain remarkably free places – even when, like in the former British Crown Colony of Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world, there was little in the way of democracy.
We now find ourselves in the peculiar position where our Queen, despite not being a British citizen (‘The Queen in Parliament’ cannot vote and doesn’t require a passport – she is not a subject of herself) is in fact a citizen of the European Union. The European Treaties are quite clear in Part Two, Article 20, Paragraph 2 of what was the Treaty of Rome and is now the “Consolidated Version of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union” that as a European citizen she is “subject to the duties provided for in the treaties”.
There aren’t any such duties at the moment, but it would seem that the Queen is technically a subject of the EU, which as Sovereign, she cannot be. In this sense, March 29th 2019 can be said to be, in a technical way, another restoration of our Monarchy. What a splendid way to celebrate this it would be to once again mark Oak Apple Day with a public holiday. It would provide an excellent opportunity to reexamine our national story, the origins of our liberty and monarchy and in doing so, try to recover something that I’m sure our ancestors would feel that as a nation we have lost.