Suppose a natural-born citizen of one of those countries principally objects to the notion of monarchy and in particular is unwilling to swear allegiance to a king or queen - are there any rights or privileges that would be denied to them such as getting an ID, a passport, a drivers license etc. ?

What about a non-natural person otherwise qualifying for citizenship or a passport?

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    "a non-natural person otherwise qualifying for citizenship or a passport" What is a non-natural person? – Trilarion Oct 5 at 8:42
  • Lots of comments deleted. Comments should be used to improve the question by providing constructive criticism or requesting clarification. Please do not use comments to answer the question or discuss the subject matter of the question. – Philipp Oct 6 at 20:51
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    “non-natural person” seems to be incorrect usage in the Question, when applied to humans except for slaves. See Wikipedia. – Basil Bourque Oct 6 at 21:03
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    "unwilling to swear allegiance to a king or queen" - I'm British and I've never sworn allegiance to anyone. We don't do anything like the pledge of allegiance in the US (well, at least what's portrayed in schools in films). – John Oct 9 at 7:17
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    The term "non-natural person" usually means a legal entity such as a corporation. I don't think that's what's intended here. – Michael Kay Oct 9 at 14:32

11 Answers 11

TLDR

From natural-born citizens at least, no, you don't need to swear such allegiance, unless you're doing some very specific jobs. Even in such jobs, possible with some exceptional circumstances, one can be 'anti-Monarchist' without repercussion.


I'm British, so I can comment on the "natural-born" part of this question. What I say below applies for such people. I don't know about people applying for citizenship "from outside", but I expect similar claims hold.

While personally I have no issue with the royals, I know lots of people who oppose them, some very strongly and openly; I don't remember specific names, but if you look up famous British comedians, say, you'll see that a lot of them go on these panel shows and, if it comes up, have a rant about how much they hate the concept of 'royals'.

@LightnessRacesinOrbit points out in the comments, that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition party, is such a person. Although he claims that he wouldn't try to remove the monarchy were he in power (Independent article). I guess he feels there are more important things; but this doesn't restrict him from becoming PM (prime minister), and even as the PM he would meet the Queen weekly -- even if he were to campaign for abolition of the monarchy, he'd still meet her weekly! (Might be awkward...)

Personally, I don't recall (in my 24 and a bit years) ever being officially asked about this. In particular, certainly for a passport or driver's licence I never needed to. As mentioned by origimbo, to be an MP (member of parliament) you have to swear an oath to the monarch, but that's a pretty specific thing -- much more so than getting a passport. Similarly, police officers swear an oath to serve the Queen (described and cited here) -- although @inappropriateCode points out below that this is not the case in Northern Ireland (which makes sense, culturally).

I think in general the idea that you are allowed to have your own political view is held well above the idea that you have to like the monarch. As the saying goes, "it's a free country".

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    Does the British passport still have a page referring the monarchy in it? There were calls to remove it some years ago, but I don't know if it's still in there. – JJJ Oct 5 at 9:47
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    This answer only covers half the question; what about people applying for citizenship? – Will Oct 5 at 13:20
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    @Will Yes, you're right. I must confess, after reading other answers/comments, I forgot about the final sentence! Thank you for pointing this out (in a sensible, non-vindictive!) way; let me edit my answer accordingly :) – Sam T Oct 5 at 13:29
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    The Leader of the Opposition might be a good example to invoke. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 5 at 15:52
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    @JJJ having renewed my passport very recently, I can confirm that the page in question and reference to the queen is still in there. – Carcer Oct 5 at 16:13

I have been a Canadian my whole life and I do not recall ever being asked to "swear allegiance" to the monarch verbally.

Generally the monarchy is popular in a celebrity kind of way and while there are some anti-monarchists I believe it is not a significant political issue.

Since individual rights are important to Canadians (and I imagine similarly to the people of the U.K. and Australia) political views are not a hindrance to living a normal life for the vast majority of Canadians.

At this link are people who are openly anti-monarchy and I would guess they have drivers' licenses and passports.

New Canadians have to declare fealty to the monarch when they make Canada's Oath of Citizenship.

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    @Trilarion: how would you define being disloyal? Unless someone commits a specific offence, you're generally free to say what you like. – Steve Melnikoff Oct 5 at 9:13
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    @SteveMelnikoff I mean the opposite of fealty. The Oath of Citizenship of Canada should define what it means by declaring fealty. Otherwise, what is an oath worth, if nobody knows what it means or if nobody cares about it. – Trilarion Oct 5 at 9:50
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    @Trilarion Wikipedia give a good definition: "a promise to abide by [Canada]'s laws and uphold the duties of a [Canadian] citizen" That's what fealty has always meant (change Canada / Canadian for whichever group is headed by whomever you are swearing fealty to) – Caleth Oct 5 at 11:50
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    @Trilarion: unless you can have your citizenship revoked for breaking the oath, I'd argue that it is entirely symbolic. After all, anyone within a country's jurisdiction will (in theory) be punished just the same for breaking the law, whether they're a citizen or not. (A separate question would then be: if the citizenship oath is entirely symbolic, why is it a requirement?) – Steve Melnikoff Oct 5 at 13:59
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    I'm born a Canadian. The only time I can remember saying anything about the queen was as a boy scout (God, Queen and Country). I also naturalized as an American citizen in my late 40s. At that point I took an oath to absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen. But, Canada doesn't recognize that as a renunciation of Canadian citizenship, so I remain a Canadian. Am I breaking my oath by keeping a Canadian passport; I know I'm not breaking the law – Flydog57 Oct 5 at 15:12

This is a complete non-issue in the UK. For example, the leader of the opposition in Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn, has openly refused to sing the National Anthem when attending high profile, televised, public events such as a memorial service commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of Britain in WWII.

It's hard to imagine any public figure "getting away with" that sort of behaviour in the USA!

Of course many people (including Corbyn, going through the formalities of parliamentary procedure) may sometimes do things that they don't believe in - but the vast majority of the UK population is never forced to make any declaration of allegiance to, or show any respect towards, the monarchy, the national flag, and similar national symbols.

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    It's true to an extent, but refusing to swear loyalty to the monarch will cause problems. "non-issue" is not true. Corbyn still swore an oath to the monarch. Sinn Fein did not, so they do not sit in parliament or get a salary. Similarly if you refused to swear loyalty to the monarchy you'd not be allowed to join the army or police in the mainland. The police in Northern Ireland don't swear an oath to the monarch, and curiously Naval officers don't as their loyalty is assumed given that the navy is a royal institution, unlike the parliamentarian army. – inappropriateCode Oct 5 at 9:58
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    "It's hard to imagine any public figure "getting away with" that sort of behaviour in the USA!" Political culture does not translate well. American loyalties are (generally speaking) to the nation and the Constitution, with the flag as a symbol of both - as some athletes who "took the knee" found to their dismay. While the institution of the presidency is respected in a way the monarchy is not, speaking as an ignorant, outsider Yank, I find it hard to believe that the sort of vituperation widely applied to the current orange-haired president would be much appreciated towards the Queen Mum... – WhatRoughBeast Oct 5 at 11:53
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    @WhatRoughBeast You don't get many people reacting to her political statements, because she doesn't make any. You do get people who are reacting to the behaviour of various royals, particularly Phillip and Charles. The political mudslinging all goes at MPs (particularly the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet) – Caleth Oct 5 at 12:02
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    @WhatRoughBeast Public criticism and pushing to rape someone are two different things. You probably wouldn't see the latter in the UK only because we are generally a little better behaved than that. Not much, but a little. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 5 at 15:55
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    @WhatRoughBeast, the Queen Mum died in 2002. – Peter Taylor Oct 6 at 18:13

British person here, swearing an oath of loyalty to the monarch only happens if you join government service of some kind (millitary, police, etc). Otherwise it almost never comes up. While I quite like the royals, a lot of people don't like them and are free to do so.

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    The UK actually has citizenship ceremonies for new citizens which do require taking an oath of allegiance. – JJJ Oct 5 at 8:09
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    This link says "You need to attend a citizenship ceremony if you’re 18 or over and have successfully applied to become a British citizen." -- the OP is about natural-born citizens – Sam T Oct 5 at 8:10
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    @Chris only hearsay (EU citizens who applied for permanent residence). I'll see if I can find the actual text later today, should be in there. – JJJ Oct 5 at 8:14
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    Perhaps the most relevant form of government service is to be a Member of Parliament (MP), where you must either swear or affirm an oath of allegiance to the monarch en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Allegiance_(United_Kingdom). So if you were wanting to peacefully overthrow the crown via election to parliament and debate, you'll have to be somewhat hypocritical. – origimbo Oct 5 at 8:14
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    Just to add that I didn't need to make any oath as a UK civil servant. Then again, I do get an extra day's holiday to celebrate the Queen's birthday, so my view on monarchy has changed! – Bad_Bishop Oct 5 at 9:25

New citizens

Others have discussed most about those having citizenship from birth. I will attempt to answer this part of your question:

What about a non-natural person otherwise qualifying for citizenship or a passport ?

United Kingdom

To become a UK citizen, one must take an oath of allegiance. The text of the oath (from Wikipedia) is as follows:

I, [name], [swear by Almighty God] [do solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm and declare] that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs, and successors, according to law.

This oath is to be taken in one of the final steps in becoming a citizen, during a so-called citizenship ceremony.

Other Commonwealth countries (e.g. Canada)

Other Commonwealth countries have similar requirements. For example, that first Wikipedia page also lists the oath for future Canadian citizens:

I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.

Or in French, of course:

Je jure fidélité et sincère allégeance à Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth Deux, Reine du Canada, à ses héritiers et successeurs et je jure d'observer fidèlement les lois du Canada et de remplir loyalement mes obligations de citoyen canadien.

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    From your wikipedia link I went to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Allegiance_(United_Kingdom) which discusses the oath in more detail including various people that swear it (police officers and members of the judiciary being the ones I found). – Chris Oct 5 at 9:27
  • "...I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty..." Is there a commentary existing somewhere what this actually means? What should or shouldn't one do to be faithful and bearing true allegiance to Her Majesty? What would happen if one fails to do that? – Trilarion Oct 5 at 13:31
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    @Trilarion you might want to consult the British Nationality Law, though I'm not sure it explicitly answers those questions. If anything, it might be a good question for Law.SE. – JJJ Oct 5 at 13:44
  • @Trilarion it's only meaningful if you are a dual national. The UK has treaty obligations to not render anyone stateless. – Caleth Oct 5 at 13:52
  • @Caleth they can still put nationals in jail. There used to be (not sure if the UK still has any) lèsé majesté laws. – JJJ Oct 5 at 14:04

The other answers comprehensively cover the UK and Canada cases. I'll offer the Australian perspective, as a naturalised Australian citizen.

Contrary to Canada, the Australian citizenship pledge does not pledge allegiance to the Queen. It it a common misconception though, so much so, that when one of my friends is about to become a citizen, I tease them by asking: "are you ready to offer your allegiance to the Queen?". They are pleasantly surprised when they learn the actual text. There are two versions of the pledge: including the phrase "under God", or not.

From this time forward, [under God,] I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.

The current version of the pledge was introduced in 1994. Older versions did offer allegiance to the King or Queen.

Moreover, the members of the Parliament and members of the Armed Forces still have to make an oath (or affirmation) that includes allegiance to the Queen. But in practical terms, I do not think that this stops them from expressing anti-monarch views and sentiments.

Finally, it's worth noting that the previous prime minister of Australia, Malcom Turnbull, came to political prominence in the late 90s leading the Republican movement in Australia.

H2ONaCl's answer gives a good Canadian perspective, there is a similar list for the UK here, which lists Members of Parliament, prominent journalists and media personalities.

MORI polls cited on the Wikipedia page show around 20% of those sampled expressing republican views.

The current Leader of the Opposition (Jeremy Corbyn) is one of the people mentioned, so it's not only possible, but quite a popular viewpoint in the UK.

It's true that Members of Parliament swear an oath to "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors, according to law", but this has been interpreted as an oath to the person and not the office, or with the emphasis on "according to law", which does not preclude holding republican views. There are some more (or less) artistic variations on this idea from republican politicians listed here.

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    Corbyn did however make the Oath of Loyalty to the Queen, which the OP specifically says they won't do. Sinn Fein MPs do not take their seats in the house precisely because they refuse to do this. – Jack Aidley Oct 5 at 8:39
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    @JackAidley Sinn Fein MP's refuse to take their seats in Parliament because they don't accept that Northern Ireland should be part of the UK at all. That is a much broader issue than personal allegiance to the monarchy. – alephzero Oct 5 at 8:50
  • @JackAidley - Good point - editing. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Oct 5 at 9:00
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    @alephzero Sinn Fein would neither sit in British parliament; thereby accepting British authority in Ireland, nor swear loyalty to any monarch; being republicans. They're still active politically on both sides of the Irish Sea though. – inappropriateCode Oct 5 at 9:33

The other answers clearly address the practical aspect of the question, namely they correctly suggest that it is possible (and common) to live in the Commonwealth while openly disavowing the monarchy. Nonetheless, the formal legal situation may be much less favorable.

Indeed, under the Treason Felony Act 1848 of the United Kingdom, it is treason felony to "compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend" to deprive the Queen of her crown in any of her dominions and countries (whether or not you are located in the United Kingdom yourself). The maximum punishment for this crime is life imprisonment.

This section of the Wikipedia page provides some discussion of the Guardian's attempt and failure to challenge this Act in 2001, as well as some more activity in 2013 that indicates that the law is still in force. See "Calling for abolition of monarchy is still illegal, UK justice ministry admits" in the Guardian.

The last charges under this act appear to have been in 1972. Those charges were reduced to the lesser charges of seditious utterances, which itself was a crime in the same vein. This charge appears to have been abolished, except for aliens, addressing another aspect of your question.

It is worth noting there are certain circumstances, that a non-natural citizen can acquire British citizenship without swearing the Oath of Allegiance. As I was a minor when I acquired my British Citizenship, my mother didn't want me to skip school (as she could get fined for doing so) to attend the ceremony and informed the council that she would be picking up my certificate as well as her own, which they were perfectly happy to do.

In the 1990s, if an Australian boy or girl became a Scout, they had to swear "to do my duty to my God, and to the Queen of Australia." However these days they can choose instead to swear "to be true to my spiritual beliefs, to contribute to my community and our world."

There seem to be at least three different issues being discussed here.

One is, essentially, whether you are obliged to accept the authority of the law, the constitution, and the government of the country, which has the monarch as its titular head. The answer is: yes, you are. If you behave in a way that flouts that authority then you will end up in prison.

Two is whether you are obliged to say that you like this system. Answer: no, you aren't. Even those who swear allegiance are only agreeing that they will go along with the system, not that they actually like it or are prepared to defend it.

Three is whether you like the individual currently holding office. That's almost totally irrelevant. Except that the British system is actually quite flexible, and there have been quite a few occasions over the centuries that a monarch, or proposed monarch, has been unacceptable to the people (or the barons) and has been quietly sidelined. It could happen again.

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