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The Crown and Constitutional Reform

Professor Cris Shore FRSNZ and Professor Emeritus David Williams FRSNZ are editors on a book which is an innovative, interdisciplinary exchange between experts in law, anthropology and politics about the Crown, constitutional monarchy and the potential for constitutional reform in Commonwealth common law countries, with collaborators from a Marsden Fund project. 

The constitutional foundation of many Commonwealth countries is the Crown, an icon of ultimate authority, at once familiar yet curiously enigmatic. Is it a conceptual placeholder for the state, a symbol of sovereignty or does its ambiguity make it a shapeshifter, a legal fiction that can be deployed as an expedient mask for executive power and convenient instrument for undermining democratic accountability? This volume offers a novel, interdisciplinary exchange: the contributors analyse how the Crown operates in the United Kingdom and the postcolonial settler societies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In doing so, they examine fundamental theoretical questions about statehood, sovereignty, constitutionalism and postcolonial reconciliation. As Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign approaches its end, questions about the Crown’s future, its changing forms and meanings, the continuing value of constitutional monarchy and its potential for reform, gain fresh urgency.

Professor Cris Shore is Professor of Social Anthropology and Head of Department, Goldsmiths University of London, UK. Dr David V Williams is Professor Emeritus and Honorary Research Fellow at University of Auckland.