Institutional CSA, Critias and the Queen.

Margaret Thatcher with Ronald Reagan at Camp David

Margaret Thatcher with Ronald Reagan at Camp David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you live under a tyrant, it can be difficult to criticize them. Even in the current age governments tolerate criticism only so long as it does not encourage physical violence. Even democratic governments, traditionally believed to be tolerant of free speech, have limits as individual politicians will seek a variety of tools or methods to quiet if not discredit their harshest critics. To escape that fate, a critic may have to make indirect or oblique criticisms especially in the public domain. Such an approach does work, up to a point, as Socrates demonstrates.

How to criticize a ruler

Leo Strauss described how Socrates was able to criticize a tyrant and survive. In the episode, described below, Socrates makes an oblique, almost metaphorical, criticism.[1]

“When the thirty were putting to death many citizens and by no means the worst ones, and were encouraging many in crimes, Socrates said somewhere, that it seemed strange that a herdsman who lets his cattle decrease and go to the bad should not admit that he is a poor cowherd; but stranger still that a statesman when he causes the citizens to decrease and go to the bad, should feel no shame nor think himself a poor statesman. This remark was reported to Critias….” (Xenophon, Memorabilia I 2.32-33)

When we consider this quotation and what Socrates was doing, we have to reflect on our own time. The criticism can be levelled at any ruler. A ruler is responsible for their reign. Their reign is measured by the health or goodness of their citizens for the ruler shapes the regime which forms the citizen. In this role, they are indirectly accountable to their citizens even if they have no formal accountability under the law. In extreme cases, where a ruler fails to help his citizens, the citizens may use a revolution to replace the ruler. With that final sanction always in their mind, a ruler will often moderate their rule to ensure the people are satisfied or fearful enough to avoid revolution with some rulers using both in equal measure. Whatever the case, the question is how has the ruler cared for their people to ensure they do not diminish or go bad.

Sixty Years on the throne what has been done about institutional CSA?

In the UK, we live under a monarch who has reigned for 60 years. In that time, the crisis of institutional CSA has constantly recurred. In 2015 it reached a crisis point with the Goddard Inquiry convened to address the issue. Even though the Inquiry will cover all public institutions and even include the Royal Household, which was added after it was announced[2], there remains an outstanding question. The question is the one posed about Critias.  As the final authority within the country, the source of its laws,[3] has she considered the failure to address the ever present if not well publicized crisis of institutional child sexual abuse during her reign?

Did the Queen’s personal intelligence system alert her to institutional CSA?

Every week for the past 60 years, the Queen received a briefing from her prime minister. Of nearly 3000 meetings between the Queen and her prime minister, did she ever discuss institutional CSA? Even when Margaret Thatcher’s government was threatened by the allegations of CSA, did Margaret Thatcher describe this threat to explain how Her Majesty’s Government dealt with it or seek advice on how to deal with it? If Margaret Thatcher did not raise this potential threat to Her Majesty’s Government, why not? If she did, what did Her Majesty do about it? In that 60 years, did the Queen, the Royal Household[4], or her prime ministers ever raise the issue of institutional CSA? If not, why not? If they did, what was the outcome? As the Queen has the right, the prerogative, to give as well as receive advice from her ministers, did she ever exercise her prerogative to provide or receive advice about institutional CSA especially when it potentially involved one of her ministers?

What did her Lord Lieutenants tell her of institutional CSA?

The Queen, and the Crown, more generally had a wider responsibility during her reign. The Queen is supported by Lord Lieutenants, there are 98 in total, who report to her on events in their areas. When the Queen visits they will give her background information on local events or issues.[5] In the last 60 years did any of her 98 Lord Lieutenants send her information on the institutional child abuse occurring in their areas? If not, why not? If they did, what was done about the information? Were the Lord Lieutenants directed to act on the information? If the Lord Lieutenants did not pass her information, especially on children’s homes within their areas, why did not they not report on these issues to the Queen? If the Royal Household was managing this communication, what did they do about it?

Was institutional CSA ever a factor in refusing to award an honour?

When the Crown awarded honours did the honours committee, or the Royal Household, vet those receiving honours? Did they ever ask if those who were to receive an honour were involved or potentially involved in institutional CSA? If it did turn someone down for an honour, was the Queen informed of the reason especially if it involved CSA? Moreover, were the wider reports by the Lord Lieutenants included in these considerations? In the last 60 years were any of applications not supported from information given by Lord Lieutenants? As the information on these matters are destroyed, we will likely never know.[6]

Who will ask these questions?

These are questions that need to be asked and answered. If the people cannot ask these questions nor can they receive an answer, can the country claim to have the rule of law? If the Queen, or the Crown, is not accountable to the people, to whom is she accountable? If she is only accountable to God, then does she believe she has done enough in her reign to satisfy his commands to “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.”[7]

In the twilight of her reign, as God’s judgement draws closer, as her thoughts turn to her legacy, what will she answer?

[1] Jerusalem and Athens Some Preliminary Reflections


[3] “Given the historical development of the Sovereign as the ‘Fount of Justice’, civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under UK law. Acts of Parliament do not apply to The Queen in her personal capacity unless they are expressly stated to do so.

However, The Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law.”

[4] One of Rolf Harris’s victims wrote to the Queen to warn her about him. There is no evidence that the letters were acted on beyond passing them to the Metropolitan Police Service

[5] “Lord-Lieutenants are also responsible for ensuring that The Queen’s Private Office is kept informed about local issues relating to their area, particularly when a Royal visit is being planned.”


[7] Psalm 82:3

About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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