I posted this elsewhere a year or two ago. I offer it here as monarchy has been discussed on this blog and elsewhere … this is my view on the subject.
I watched the BBC Ten O’Clock News on Thursday, and found it bizarre that the first 15 minutes was wall-to-wall Prince Harry coverage (and this corporation is accused by many of having a liberal, left-wing agenda?).
My view of monarchy/royalty is that it is essentially ridiculous, therefore everything that flows from it … like the latest debacle … is bound to be ridiculous too. It is an institution fit for the eighteenth century somehow clinging on in the twenty-first.
The monarchical system, in these egalitarian, irreverent times, is trying to square a circle. Its members must simultaneously be seen as both ‘special’ and ‘ordinary’. So, Prince Harry in Afghanistan is presented as an ordinary bloke, saying ‘shit’ and talking about ‘the guys’ in his regiment. But hang on a second … if he’s an ordinary bloke, why is 15 minutes of the news devoted to the fact that he’s doing, as a soldier, what soldiers do? Well, because he’s special, of course.
The excuse for all of this is that the enemy – the Taliban – are aware of his ‘specialness’ and will try to use it for their own ends. The ever-increasing ripples of farce that flow from the concept of monarchy wash over a bunch of medieval fundamentalists thousands of miles away.
To defuse this, and end the farce, all that’s necessary is to dispense with the specialness and stick with the ordinariness. But a large part of the British public and media don’t seem willing or able to do this, possibly because since birth they’ve been steeped in the myth of royal specialness (which is now melding with the cult of celebrity to produce a strange hybrid).
It’s a conundrum that, to an outsider, seems weird. It’s like when you think you know someone quite well and then they suddenly do something that makes you think again.
The monarchy is not Britain, and Britain is not the monarchy. To be against the concept of royalty is not to be anti-British, though many would like to pretend that it is (The Bulletin, of this parish, is proof of the existence of republican, true-blue Englishmen). English and British history is littered with examples of decent, patriotic individuals and movements of essentially democratic, anti-monarchical bent.
One of these days, I hope, they’ll get the upper hand. Each successive self-contradictory farce brings the day closer.