Generation Blame

Is the monarchy still relevant?


The Baby Boomer

Cosmo Landesman


Jamie, you don’t like the monarchy because they’re a “hopelessly outdated institution”, one “irrelevant” to modern Britain and unfit for her future. So off with their heads – symbolically, at least – down with their corgis and long live Queen Me-Me Meghan! Is that about right? Are we to judge everything – individuals and institutions – by their relevancy? Relevancy to whom? To what? You’re such a party-pooping puritan! Can’t you enjoy all their pomp and pageantry as pure theatrical spectacle? Never mind all the tragedy and farce that one family has provided us with.

But are the Royal Family really so irrelevant as you claim? You only see the public displays of extravagance, frippery, grand estates, sexual misconduct – we used to call that rock’n’roll! – and you’re disgusted. But what about the Queen and the late Prince Philip’s commitment to public service? What’s that, you ask? It’s the idea of devoting one’s life to something bigger than the self; something more important than your sexual and racial identity.

I admire the Queen. As you point out, since 1952 she has carried out over 22,219 solo engagements. Think about that. She has suffered over seventy years of mind-numbing small talk along with ceremonies and celebrations of cruel and relentless tedium – all in the service of her country and carried out without complaint.

If you accept that every country needs a head of state then monarchy is the best of all bad options

Does not public service have a place in modern Britain? I guess not, now that the clapping for NHS workers has stopped and we’re going back to normal narcissism. You’re right, Meghan would be a perfect figurehead for Selfie Britain.

You complain about the terrible cost of the monarchy to the nation. How, you wonder, can we justify spending £69 million in 2020 on that lot when there’s so much poverty around? It’s an argument that right-wing pundits make all the time, only they wonder how we can spend so much on foreign aid or the arts when British people are hurting or homeless.

So how does a reluctant monarchist like me justify the monarchy? If you accept that every country needs a head of state – be it monarch or president – then for me monarchy is the best of all bad options.

Why? Because they provide a public space where people’s love of country, people’s need for historical continuity, people’s sense of belonging can be expressed and fulfilled in safe ways. (You’re all for safe spaces, aren’t you Jamie?). When people don’t have a safe space for such sentiments, nasty populist demagogues and tyrants – i.e. Trump, Orbán, Erdogan, Bolsonaro – exploit that need. I’d rather have people in silly hats and decked out in frippery than black boots or menacing insignia.

You seem pretty confident the End is Nigh for the monarchy, citing recent examples of bad behaviour by Andrew and racism towards Meghan. If bad behaviour was a serious threat to the British monarchy it would have been dead centuries ago. So long live the Queen. Elizabeth, that is.


The Millennial

Jamie Colvin


The monarchy is as relevant to Britain’s future as a brontosaurus hitching a ride on Elon Musk’s Space X mission to Mars. You may feel sentimental about the pageantry, Cosmo, but I think we’re onto The Crown, the Final Season.

After completing 22,219 solo engagements since her coronation in 1952, no one can deny the Queen’s diligence in maintaining royal box office ratings. But its global audience has been gorging on disastrous episodes, from unsavoury allegations about Prince Andrew’s friendship with sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein to the cringeing revelation of a palace insider speculating on the colour of Meghan’s baby.

So when the Queen shuffles off her mortal spoils (the Royal family cost taxpayers over £69 million in 2020) it’s time for the heir apparent and his useless relatives to be flung off the castle ramparts. Farm out the corgis, sell off the racehorses, give Frogmore back to the tadpoles and let the remaining parasites take up mortgages like other mortals, preferably on a “Windsor” estate built by Wimpey.

It’s a hopelessly outdated institution, a royal zoo full of strutting courtiers

Royals are said to earn national income through tourism but at least 25 per cent of their stated £48 million tourist-related income goes back to the Queen via the Crown Estate. When 23 per cent of the UK lives in poverty in 2021, including 4.3 million children, it’s impossible to justify royal frippery and luxury grand estates.

What’s that? Prince Charles is working on a plan to “slim down” the Royal Family? As any gardener will tell you, Cosmo, it’s no good just pruning pointless hangers-on from the Civil List (I bet even you can’t justify the existence of silly-hatted royals like Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice), the whole diseased family tree needs to be cut down. It’s a hopelessly outdated institution, a royal zoo full of strutting courtiers leading a mindless dance of pigeon-like bowing and curtseying. It’s a hilarious circus of pointless parades, gongs, songs and roast swans.

And don’t tell me royals can learn from their mistakes after the Palace treated Meghan as churlishly as Princess Diana, whose tragic death revealed her to be the most popular and relatable royal in history. Beautiful, charismatic and a figurehead for diverse modern Britain, Meghan was the proverbial gift horse for an ailing, out-of-date institution. But Buck House chewed her up, spat her out into the media’s malevolent maw, and sent her flying back to Hollywood (let’s face it, the only proper dwelling place for princes and princesses in modern times), taking the most popular new-gen Royal with her, the people’s darling, aka Prince Harry. We’re left with dotty Prince Charlie, talking to plants, and “the inoffensives”: Edward ‘n’ Sophie, Will ‘n’ Kate.

Their revels now are over. The royals belong in a museum. Why don’t we donate them to the National Trust? Right, Cosmo?

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