Few events have nauseated me to quite the same extent as the Royal Wedding of 2011. Two people in love get married – that is wonderful. Public parties, celebrations and fawning over said wedding by complete strangers – that is not. Over the recent months, it was hard to escape the excitement surrounding the couple’s imminent second child, and those “oh so adorable” photos of their first (“look, he’s wearing a knitted vest! Astonishing!”). That mood has turned sour this week with ‘sex slave’ allegations against Prince Andrew.
I am unable to comment on the veracity of those claims as I, surprisingly, am not privy to the personal lives of the Royals. It did, however, leave me wondering whether the national backlash would be as intense as the previous jubilation around the Royal Family. One question I have repeatedly asked, which has remained unanswered, is “why do we have them?”
The most prominent argument is that they are great for the country’s tourism. This is a myth. France has had no monarchy since the 19th Century, yet attracted 85 million tourists in 2013, compared to the United Kingdom’s 32 million. Perhaps this is due to the sun and skiing, but does Versailles Palace struggle to attract custom now there is no monarchy? Do we really believe Buckingham Palace would receive no attention if the Royal system was abolished? Versailles was, in 2012, Europe’s most visited palace. In terms of British tourism for paid attractions, the top 6 visited are all museums. Yes, many people stand outside Buckingham Palace, but would that stop if the monarchy were obsolete? The upkeep of the Royal Family cost taxpayers £35.7 million in 2014.
That is not even my primary issue. My issue is a more philosophical than economic one. I resent living in a country where the most powerful and privileged are chosen by nepotism. I believe in meritocracy. No matter how hard you work, how intelligent, principled or inspirational you are, no matter the good you do for the world nor the strength of your impact, you will never supersede the status of the monarchy in Britain. Prince George is already guaranteed to be the most powerful, socially superior man in the country simply through the event of his birth. He does not have to do anything else to earn that right. It is not necessary a blessing, nor do I have any problem whatsoever with him individually – he is just a child. It is not the Royals themselves I detest, it is the system. It is a system where your ancestors slaughtering their rivals to seize power grants you complete entitlement and privilege.
Thus, before you are able to walk and talk, you are condemned to a life in Britain as a second-class citizen. There is a collective that you cannot breach, a group of untouchables that mere mortals cannot access. And the worst thing of all? The public don’t just accept it, they revel in it. The screaming hordes hoping for a glimpse of someone, anyone, from ‘that’ family, queuing up for days to stand outside their weddings, waving their plastic British flags in some sort of horrible Orwellian patriotism towards a group of people unaware of their existence. Princess Diana’s death was awful – as is any death – but the public hysteria that followed it was bordering on disturbing.
I have been called a spoilsport/cynic many a time, but having that thrown at me for not celebrating a wedding or birth that further supports this system? I have wondered; am I a working class, left-wing anti-Royalist simply following instinct, blinded perhaps by my upbringing? Would I feel differently if born into difference circumstances myself? After deliberation, regardless of my own position, I do not believe this to be the case. Just as I am glad of the non-existence of God, as I don’t want to be born into a celestial dictatorship, I do not wish to be part of a system where my inferiority is confirmed by my birth. I am sure many of the Royals are perfectly nice people, and just as I cannot help the class into which I have been born, nor can they. Irrespective of that, any sane person can see that the system itself is medieval and unjust. This one family holds control over the media, the information that we receive, and just what we know about the monarchy that leads our country.
Politicians may be bad, but at least we can partly blame ourselves for their appointment.