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Of the Queen

A friend of mine went to the opening of parliament the other day. Here is what she wrote:

"I saw the Queen, Prince Charles, Princess Anne etc go past in their carriages and all the pomp that goes with that and, to be honest, the decadence and iniquity of it made me feel sick; that they could have so much and carry on as usual when so many have so little. I have always quite liked the Royals and understood the connection of monarchy to the Land but I became a republican today. This inequality cannot be allowed to carry on. The Queen holds what she has in trust for the people of this land and yet when we are suffering there is no move to release any of 'her' riches in order to help us. Any romantic notions that I might have held before (about that family at least) fell from my eyes today and, for that, I am grateful."m

At the same time, those worried about the Government's plan to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, rejoiced at what seemed to be a moment's significant glance after she alluded to it. This must be the only woman in the world whose eyeball movements are given such importance. Ludicrous though it is (though not as ludicrous as a woman wearing huge jewels and ermines sitting on a throne talking about austerity and one nation) it does have meaning for bone-pickers. The Monarch is meant to be assiduously neutral, and indeed, she read the speech like a clock keeping time, pausing only to turn pages. She chose an interesting moment to take a breath and peer at the audience. The claim is being made that she drew a bead on Cameron, but you can't tell anything like that from the video. All we know is that she hesitated and lifted her eyes. Presumably this means the sky will fall on our heads any minute now.

The myth of the monarchy falls down under investigation; there is no 'connection to the land,' as my friend puts it so romantically - there is no link between the modern royal family and the dynasties that rooted here; the Plantagenets, the Tudors, the Stuarts...In terms of history, they symbolise continuation, but it is a falsehood in itself. The old way breaks at William of Orange, who could not give a single damn about the Isles, and indeed, used its armies as fodder for the wars that really mattered to him, over on the continent. He is the point at which the whole blood and land connection ends. Ironically, Diana Spencer is the point at which it returns. Descended from the Stuarts she really was a link back to the line of Scottish/English Kings, with connections to the Bourbons, the Medicis etc, etc. Her son will be a much more loved king than Charles, who just doesn't possess any form of majesty at all, despite having a near lifetime to learn it. And this is the point; assuming monarchy has any function other than to keep us occupied with a grand parade, and pretend that we are all one big family, it is very clear that the Crown is only as useful to Britain as the person that wears it. Who is looking forward to swearing allegiance to the man who would be Camilla Parker-Bowles' tampon?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 29th, 2015 02:09 pm (UTC)
Thank the gods that there was a break in continuity with William of Orange. The House of Stuart needed to go (though it was nicely transitioned out - Bill's wife, Mary II was a Stuart as was their successor, Anne), but the line of descent needed the side step. By and large, the Stuarts were believers in the Divine Right of Monarchs. Charles II ruled as much as he could without Parliament and religion aside, the succeeding Jameses were worse.

Had the Jacobites held the monarchy, the Island of Great Britain (and probably Ireland) would have seen a revolution that made the French Revolution look like a Sunday afternoon tea party.

As to the question of a modern republic. I reckon it would be more expensive in the long run. the immediate family of every president would become effective royalty for the remainder of their lives, so we would see a huge increase of "republican royalty" every time we had an election. The current mob may have jobs for life, but they don't breed THAT fast and only a few of them get anything from the civil list.
May. 29th, 2015 09:09 pm (UTC)
Mythology versus Reality
I agree with you in the strongest possible terms regarding the Stuarts!

Why do we have kings and queens? Their very existence is the antithesis of meritocracy. It is assumed that time and training makes them good at a job which we could argue isn't necessary anyway, and certainly shouldn't endow them with huge tracts of land/lots of money/historical privilege, or other vastly preferential options.

Even if we say the job is necessary, Charles is a fine example of a man who may not be a complete idiot, but still has no gift for the job for which we pay him.

But we seldom hear it spoken of as a job. Is it what they do that matters, or what they are? I have not heard two people together define this in the same way. As far as I can tell, their action is not the thing, in fact their inaction is the preferred option. It's not what they do but what they are that matters, and that surely is about mythology. What do we expect them to be?

If we don't expect them to be anything, and it's all a big show, this reverence is absurd. If we do expect them to be something, and we do revere them, what exactly is it that we are placing so far above our much vaunted democracy?

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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