I come from a tradition that would like to make the job Royal Correspondent a thing of the past. When I consider all the other things that one could be doing, then I see it as an execrable waste of a human life.1
Therefore moments like this are always difficult for me. Should I completely ignore the upcoming royal event and, however minimally, reduce the amount people talk about it, or should I come out swinging and talk about parasites and outdated institutions and so forth?
The ludicrous justifications that are given for maintaining the monarchy when there isn’t an event on the way are well-worn and I don’t want to go through them all here. But there is one that I would like to mention and that is that they “bring in tourists.” This is still continually used. When confronted with it I always point out that France is the country that receives far more tourists than any other. I have heard it said, (I think it was Mark Steel) that it is difficult to imagine many people saying: “Well, I was going to go to France but they don’t have a monarchy so I am not going to go there.”
But back to the event. As someone from a country where the primary source of news is the BBC, then the thing that myself and other like-minded people are dreading the most is the outpouring of sycophancy that goes along with these things. When these things come around, the BBC goes into overdrive in its attempts to pretend, against all evidence, that everyone in the UK is all part of the same big family. The deference and obsequiousness are vomit-inducing, at best.
An American friend recently said to me though, that it was amazing how much interest this was getting. In America? Really? For a second I thought that, for all your faults, you had at least gotten over this problem, and I asked myself why this sudden regression was happening?
But with a little more thought I realised that you haven’t gotten over it all, have you?
You have your own royalty. They are the celebrities that you allow to “walk through the raindrops” whilst they simultaneously p*ss all over you. Millions of Americans live their lives vicariously through the celebrities they wish they could be like, or at least have their money, or their stuff, or their houses or their “don’t give a fuck” attitudes. It doesn’t matter if it is sports stars, heiresses to titles, heiresses to fortunes or actors. It is all the same distraction.
And that is what it is all about at the end. The monarchy still exists because the pageantry provides a distraction from the reality of the difficulties of life. The same goes for celebrity culture.
The final defence of royalty that is usually given is that it is “difficult living your life in the public glare.” I have no doubt that it is. Therefore, why don’t we do the humane thing and make the position redundant and thus relieve them of the burden. We could do the same with celebrities who haven’t actually contributed anything.
I, for one, won’t be mentioning any of this again.
- My friend told me that he would go with “cause for a contemporaneous lobotomy, disembowelment and popping of the vitreous humours with hot pokers.” [↩]