1 SEPTEMBER 2007, Page 14

Role play

Sir: Both Matthew d'Ancona and Patrick Jephson overlooked one excellent argument in favour of monarchy (How Diana changed the royal family', 18 August), which is that a longstanding hereditary monarchy is by far the most effective way to separate the political roles of head of state and prime minister A nation's head of state is the temporary embodiment of its identity, history and achievements and in this role serves as the natural focus for the affection, pride and loyalty citizens feel for their country. A nation's prime minister is elected, for a limited period, to undertake the running of the country in the best interests of its citizens. With this responsibility comes great power and the interests of a country are best served if the prime minister and government are held accountable through severe, continuous, freely expressed criticism from its citizens.

If a country's chief political executive is also its head of state, its citizens will be unwilling to take a strongly critical approach, because in doing so they are effectively criticising their country. In the USA, for example, the moves to impeach a president, such as Nixon over Watergate, produce a painful schizophrenic dilemma for the American public.

Giles Conway-Gordon San Francisco, USA