Are the English citizens or subjects?

by John
(Maine, USA)

I was brought up in Canada, where it was hammered into us that we were SUBJECTS of His Majesty the King and later the Queen and not a "citizen" like those scurvy wretches who lived in France or the USA, republics, whose people are referred to as "citizens". When did subjects become citizens?


Answer:


What an interesting question! And I think the answer is ... we never did!

After long discussion we're all agreed that any British person is a 'subject', not a citizen. Britain is still a monarchy, HM The Queen is still our head of state - so we're all her subjects.

I think that applies to all monarchies, constitutional or not. So the same would apply to people living in Norway, Sweden, Holland, Spain, Belgium etc.

What we could not agree about is the law as it applies to member states of the Commonwealth. I believe that - officially - the Queen is also head of state of Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc ... but I wouldn't describe any of those countries as monarchies. So maybe they're all citizens now .. even though your experiences in Canada might suggest that that answer's wrong!

Hope that didn't confuse the issue too much.
We had great fun debating it, though.

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