Sickbags on Standby

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. ((My friend told me that he would go with “cause for a contemporaneous lobotomy, disembowelment and popping of the vitreous humours with hot pokers.”))

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however minimally, reduce the amount people talk about it, or should I come out swinging and talk about parasites and outdated institutions and so forth?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.

Scotland's Michael Greenwell has worked, at various times, as a university tutor, a barman, a DJ ("not a very good one,"), an office lackey, supermarket worker, president of a small charity, a researcher, a librarian, a volunteer worker in Nepal during the civil war there, and "some other things that were too tedious to mention." Nowadays, he explains, "I am always in the education sector in one way or another." Read other articles by Michael, or visit Michael's website.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on February 18th, 2011 at 10:43am #

    nevertheless, france and england r visited solely by supremacists; thinking, ithinks, they’d feel even better than before visits or believe that they’d become even more supremacistic after such visitations.
    shame on such people!
    visiting only or mostly the ‘civilized’ world appears inhuman.

    in values that matter, france is no more civilized than nearly all lands in which lords keep war and own people! u’d have to pay me to visit it! tnx

  2. bozh said on February 18th, 2011 at 10:47am #

    btw, don’t pious people go to church for the same reason as rich people do visiting rich and ‘noble’ lands: to feel nobler, higher, better than their fellows who don’t practice such idolatry or devilry? tnx

  3. rosemarie jackowski said on February 18th, 2011 at 1:03pm #

    Good article…I am sick of the coverage this and many other trash stories are getting. How obscene for the Press to focus in on celebrity when children and other civilians are dying all around the world.

    Michael, I’m glad that you wrote this article. Now I won’t have to. Thanks…. you said it better than I could – and you were more polite and restrained than I might have been.

  4. Michael Greenwell said on February 18th, 2011 at 2:09pm #

    Thanks Rosemarie. Much appreciated.

  5. hayate said on February 18th, 2011 at 9:00pm #

    “An American friend recently said to me though, that it was amazing how much interest this was getting. In America?”

    The British monarchy is a big deal among americans and their media. Especially that oriented towards american women. American men really have no interest in it at all. Having american women following this shite is in the interest of the oligarchs, keeps them thinking naughty thoughts about real social and political issue that should be addressed. Think of this royalty shite as “sports for women”. The deal is the same as the sports in the media geared towards men. Keeps those mostly unused heads in the sand.

  6. hayate said on February 18th, 2011 at 9:01pm #


    “keeps them thinking naughty thoughts about real social and political issue that should be addressed.”

    Should be:

    keeps them FROM thinking naughty thoughts about real social and political issue that should be addressed.

  7. John Andrews said on February 19th, 2011 at 12:57am #

    I think you miss the main point for the existence of monarchy, Michael, which is to provide an idealised model, a focal point, for not just justifying, but for absolutely wallowing in plutocracy – i.e. that idea that obscene wealth SHOULD also wield supreme political power.

    The beauty of the British monarchy is the superb example it provides on a daily basis of the supreme hypocrisy of its government – the pretense of being a democracy to delude the people into thinking they’re in charge, when all along nothing has really changed: we’re still run by elites. O.K. the elites are CEOs and chairmen of banks these days instead of landed gentry, but the real decisions are still being made by tiny groups of wealthy plutocrats whispering to each behind close doors – just like its always been.
    Nothing better symbolises the whole sickening charade than the annual state opening of parliament – a yearly public event designed to show everyone that nothing’s really changed, and who’s really running the show.

    Tom Paine was right on the money 250 years ago (as usual) when he wrote:
    “Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the eyes of God (it was obviously before he saw the light and became an atheist) than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.”

  8. Michael Greenwell said on February 19th, 2011 at 6:57am #

    John, I don’t disagree with a lot of what you say but I also don’t think it through that much these days.

    Most people think “hey, it’s a show” and that’s it.

  9. mary said on February 19th, 2011 at 10:11pm #

    This says it all. Hope they are able to wash the blood off their hands before turning up at the Abbey.

    ‘Among the surprise invitees are the King of Jordan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the Sultan of Oman, the King of Bahrain, the Sultan of Brunei and the King of Saudi Arabia as well as the Emperor of Japan, the King of Malaysia, the King of Tonga and the King of Thailand.

    Although the crowned heads have yet to formally accept, and the King of Thailand is said to be too ill to attend, a senior source within the Foreign Office described it as a high proportion of crowned heads for a wedding that is not being treated as a state wedding.’


    We (family members and myself) are trying to think of somewhere we can go to avoid the ‘fest’ and have a ‘Not the Royal Wedding’ weekend.

  10. mary said on February 19th, 2011 at 10:32pm #

    Ha! This slush comes second on the BBC webpage following the horrifying report from Libya of protesters being shot down by machine guns.

    Royal wedding: Couple invite 1,900 guests
    Invitations have been sent out in the past few days

    Continue reading the main story

    Royal wedding William picks Harry as best man
    Royal wedding setback for staff
    Honeymoon rumour boosts website
    Willam and Kate film to be made

    For Royal Wedding updates, follow the BBC’s royal correspondent, Peter Hunt, on Twitter

  11. sarahmoore said on February 22nd, 2011 at 11:56am #

    It is pretty sad that us Americans hold people as simple a movie star as high as royalty. I never quite understood that and I don’t fall into the category of people that do it, but to me, a person is no better than any other person, regardless of their political or financial status.

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