That’s Enough Monarchy Now 341

No doubt millions of people felt a heartfelt attachment to the Queen, which will be displayed fully in the next few days. But the anachronistic nature of monarchy is also fully on display, in the obvious absurdities and pantomime procedure, with Heralds Pursuivant and Royals buckled with the weight of their unearned medals.

Yesterday some BBC stenographer had to type with a straight face the strapline “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Are Now the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge”, which would even fifty years ago have already been absurd enough to be a line in a Monty Python sketch. Still more absurd is the millions in feudal income that goes with that title, all real money paid by actual ordinary people as feudal dues.

The plans for the Queen’s demise were organised decades ago, and it shows. The BBC, ITV and Channels 4 and even 5 stop all entertainment in favour of pre-prepared sycophancy, as though we still lived in a world where people could not switch over and watch Gordon Ramsay on Blaze instead – and that’s ignoring Netflix, Amazon and the entire internet.

I watched a few minutes of the BBC last night, up until a “royal commentator” said that people were standing outside Buckingham Palace because the nation needed to draw together for physical comfort in its great grief. There were a couple of hundred of them. Broadcasters kept focusing on a dozen bouquets left on a pavement, in a desperate attempt to whip up people to produce more.

I do not doubt this will all work and there will indeed be big crowds and carpets of flowers. Many people felt a great deal of devotion to Elizabeth II, or rather to the extraordinarily sanitised image of her with which they were presented.

I witnessed her at very close quarters working on two state visits which I had a major part in organising, to Poland and to Ghana. She was very dutiful and serious, genuinely anxious to get everything right, and worried by it. She struck me as personally pleasant and kindly. She was not, to be frank, particularly bright and sharp. I was used to working with senior ministers both domestic and foreign and she was not at that level. But then somebody selected purely by accident of birth is unlikely to be so.

Key staff organising a state visit get by tradition a private, individual audience of thank you. They also get honours on the spot. I turned down a LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order) in Warsaw and a CVO (Commander of …) in Accra. Because of the unique circumstance, I am one of very few people, or possibly the only person, who has ever refused an honour from the Queen and then had a private audience at which she asked why! I must certainly be the only person that happened to twice.

(I had earlier in my career been asked if I would accept an OBE and said no. As with the vast majority of people who refused an honour, I very much doubt the Queen ever knew that had happened.)

Anyway, in my audiences I told the Queen I was both a republican and a Scottish nationalist. I should state in fairness that she was absolutely fine with that, replied very pleasantly and seemed vaguely amused. Instead of the honour, she gave me personal gifts each time – a letter rack made by Viscount Linley, and a silver Armada dish.

I later auctioned the letter rack to raise funds for Julian Assange.

The purpose of that lengthy trip down memory lane is to explain that I found the late Queen to be personally a pleasant and well-motivated person, doing what she believed to be right. We are all shaped by our environment; I would have turned into a much more horrible monarch than she had I been born into it, certainly a great deal more sybaritic (as the rest of her family appear to be).

So there is no personal malice behind my prognostication that the party will be over very soon for the monarchy. It is not only that the institution and pageantry seem ludicrous in the current age; so does its presentation. The BBC is behaving as though we are in the 1950’s, and apparently will do so for many days. The entire notion of a state broadcasting platform is outmoded, and I suspect a lot more people will see that.

29% of the people of the UK want to abolish the monarchy, excluding Don’t Knows; in Scotland that is 43%. In the UK as a whole 18 to 24 year olds are 62% in favour of abolition of the monarchy, excluding Don’t Knows. They will be further alienated by the outlandish current proceedings. Only the loyal will be reinforced – a large section of the population will snigger as the absurd pomposity grows. I found myself yesterday on Twitter urging people to be a bit kinder as the Queen lay dying.

Think seriously on this. 29% of the population want to abolish the monarchy. Think of all the BBC coverage of the monarchy you have seen over the last decade. What percentage do you estimate reflected or gave an airing to republican views? Less than 1%?

Now think of media coverage across all the broadcast and print media.

How often has the media reflected the republican viewpoint of a third of the population? Far, far less than a third of the time. Closer to 0% than 1%. Yes, there are bits of the media that dislike Meghan for being black or are willing to go after Andrew. But the institution of the monarchy itself?

There can be no clearer example than the monarchy of the unrelenting media propaganda by which the Establishment maintains its grip.

The corporate and state media are unanimous in slavish support of monarchy. Thailand has vicious laws protecting its monarchy. We don’t need them; we have the ownership of state and corporate media enforcing the same.

One final thought; I do not expect this will amount to much, but it is fun to speculate. King Charles III has let it be known he intends to attempt to wield more influence on government than his mother. He comes to power at the same moment as a new government under Liz Truss, which is utterly anathema to Charles’ political beliefs.

Charles is a woolly liberal environmentalist with a genuine if superficial attachment to multi-culturalism. He has let it be known he deplores deportations to Rwanda. He is now going to be fitting into his role while government in his name is carried out by crazed right-wing ideologues, who want a massive push to produce more fossil fuels. Could be worth getting in the popcorn.


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341 thoughts on “That’s Enough Monarchy Now

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  • SA

    Apart from the antiquated, unegaltarian and undemocratic nature of monarchy, we must not forget that monarchy and empire is based on pillage. That this system has now been extended to oligarchs and billionaires by current neoliberal rentier capitalism is further proof that our current so called democracies are merely a form of legalised and enforced organised crime.

  • Crispa

    According to today’s Morning Star, Symon Hill, the Peace Pledge Union member, who when walking home from church and coming across the Oxford Proclamation, called out “Who elected him? is now being investigated for breaching the Public Section Order Act 1986 Section 5, the salient parts of which are as follows.
    Harassment, alarm or distress.
    (1)A person is guilty of an offence if he—
    (a)uses threatening [or abusive] words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
    (b)displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening [F1or abusive],
    within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.
    (2)An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place — [but not in one’s own home blah blah]
    (3)It is a defence for the accused to prove—
    (a)that he had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, or
    (b) [if at home blah blah]
    (c)that his conduct was reasonable.
    Leaving aside the right to protest issue, am I being thicker or less thick than the police in thinking that his actions come nowhere near (1) and fit every bit of (3)?

  • Cube

    I think most people look at the coverage the BBC have produced and think this is too much, too silly. Most want a bank holiday, not to grieve but because we all like time away from work. I think most don’t think much about monarchy and whether 21st century Britain should be ruled this way.

    Perhaps there is space during all of the silliness to make people ponder a little more about abolition. I think if Charles interferes too much or in the wrong way the establishment might start to turn against him. He appears less right wing than the newspapers and so may make enemies of them.

    If this sense of silliness combines with even a modest press baron campaign against the new king, we may start to see support for the monarchy collapse. I hope this could happen.

    I feel England cannot move on from empire, trapped in a nostalgia for an imagined time of glory. We need to accept the reality of empire. Awaken to the power structures it has left us. Understand the truth of the facts of where we are as a society. Then we would be able to move forward, hopefully in solidarity, with a spirit of cooperation, with compassion and creativity to create a society that is regenerative not exploitative. Caring not greedy. Based around aims of protecting life not abusing it for profit.

    We need large democratic, constitutional and economic change in this country. People can see that the current system doesn’t work and are angry about it. They can see Truss doesn’t care. They can see Starmer doesn’t offer solutions. They know when the propaganda from the BBC and others has gone too far. There is pent up sense of rebellion in the air and I think the establishment know it. I just hope that the fast slide to fascism, the establishment seem happy to provide, doesn’t work and that after the riots, after the protests, after the demands for better, by a population that can’t take anymore, we end up with something much better. However, history would suggest we are already too far down the slide.

    • Den Lille Abe

      If you want silliness, may I perhaps recommend Monty Python? They are known for being silly, they even at one time admitted on a show, on air, 😀 I have everything they have made, on hard drives, when times are bleak, I watch them, and roar of laughter, and mind you I have seen them innumerable times! British humour = Top notch!!!

  • Robert

    This article reminded me of the second British House of Cards season of the trilogy – To Play the King. Amusing to watch right now. Recommended.

  • Steve

    Craig, monarchy is a lousy system of government, but look at democratic leaders in 2022:

    • Liz Truss
    • Nicola Sturgeon
    • Emmanuel Macron
    • Olaf Scholz
    • Joe Biden
    • Justin Trudeau
    • Jacinda Arden
    • Anthony Albanese
    • Cyril Ramaphosa
    • Zelenskyy
    • Yair Lapid

    Personally, I feel that monarchy may indeed be a better option considering this bunch of jerks

  • Jimmeh

    Jonathan Cook says:

    “The demand for silence is not a politically neutral act. It is a demand that we collude in a corrupt system of establishment rule and hierarchical privilege.”

    I agree. Don’t collude in this fake sorrow. Wear bright colours, hold a street party, boycott TV news. Go to a football match, if they haven’t cancelled them all. And if some monarchist comes up and punches you, punch back.

  • Opport Knocks

    Craig misses the boat here:

    “One estimate came from consultancy Brand Finance who said that in 2017 the monarchy contributed £1.8 billion to the UK economy, of which around £550 million came from tourism.
    This is a gross figure (so before the estimated costs have been subtracted). The net contribution estimate is £1.5 billion a year.”

    Source and more detail:

    The cash starved British government would be nuts to give up the revenue gained by their #1 tourist attraction.

    It is like Disneyland, if you don’t like it, don’t go.

    • glenn_nl

      How many billions is this current show costing us?

      I heard an estimate of $7Billion, all losses, including a surprise enforced economic shutdown. A good “investment” as we plunge into recession.

  • tom

    Scottish government introduces new law to stop rent increases. Charles gets first look at draft law and is allowed to lobby – in secret – for changes to suit his private interests. Absolute disgrace.
    #NotMyKing #AbolishTheMonarchy

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