Letters Extra: Debunking myths about British history

27th June 2003 at 01:00

Neil Bryson's romantic panegyric to the British Monarchy contained many misconceptions about Citizenship and Britain's History.

nbsp;"We" did not reject a republic in 1660. Charles II's Restoration happened within a specific historical context. He was restored at the request of a political elite; most people merely wanted an end to the troubles caused by Charles I, and if the Restoration would bring such an end, then people supported it.

The Monarchy does not act as a balance in our constitution. The powers of the Crown have been transferred to the Prime Minister over the last 300 years. Our safeguards against an over-mighty Prime Minister do not lie with the Monarch, but with Parliament and (in time I hope) a written constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Bryson makes the classic monarchist mistake of confusing "Republicans" with "Politicians" who crave power. Politicians (including Monarchs) have always craved power. Most true Republicans have a noble history of seeking to restrain that power.

He also asserts that "a republic focuses on a clinical code". In 1647, Thomas Rainborow called for a republic with the words, "I thinke that the poorest hee that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest hee". Sexist by today's standards, but hardly "clinical".

We should teach our pupils to think for themselves and not merely accept tired, romantic claptrap. That is what Citizenship is about. Why is Mr. Bryson so scared of it.

Colin Mann

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now