Yes, I do like the monarchy – especially Kate and Will. No amount of arguing will convince me otherwise
Quite feasibly you may have avoided news of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour of India and Bhutan. You may have missed Kate’s sumptuous yet practical £35k touring wardrobe or her cricketing skills. You may have no opinion on the couple’s agreement to re-create the ‘Sad Diana on her own at the Taj Mahal’ picture in a doomed bid to give the matter closure. Maybe you missed them painting an elephant too? Gone are the times, although I recall them clearly, where umpteen million gathered around the 9pm BBC1 bulletin for a glowing epistle on the House of Windsor’s latest goodwill task.
The way we consume news today is diverse and deeply fragmented. More pressingly for the Royal status quo, it is more riddled with rebuke than ever before. I rather liked the images of the royal couple at the Oval Maiden, the Bollywood Gala and of them eating dosa with young Mumbai entrepreneurs, but today’s audiences are more likely to view them through the prism of the British Raj and its historical slavery and violence.
As the years pass, I find it more and more arduous to confess in educated circles to my soft spot for monarchy and my comfort in its history at all.
In my home, the entire topic of royalty is on a list of banned, incendiary themes never ever to be mentioned between myself and my republican-leaning partner, even when sober. Especially verboten after booze.
Is this, I wonder, a familiar scene throughout Britain? Does that seemingly innocuous ‘And Finally’ royal snippet at the end of the news turn other households into a blazing, hissing fight?
My partner – working class, hard-left leaning – tends to go straight in with time-worn mumblings about ‘parasites’. This leads to mentions of ‘exploitation of his forebears’, ‘stolen wealth’, ‘jingoism’. Then after my biting back, an inevitable rapid escalation to the suggestion that the whole lot of them are either executed, or if he’s feeling favourable, exiled to an island.
Not a nice island either. Say, out of season Lanzarote. Or all-inclusive Dominican Republic.
Crucially, he thinks all royal wealth should be confiscated and dispersed around the nation. Details of this seem rudimentary, although I envisage it could be a lot like Maundy money where the working classes would queue to have little hessian sacks of post-royal reparation cash thrust in their hands by Jeremy Corbyn and his spin doctor Seamus Milne. Quips like this by me make the argument much, much worse.
By now, I may well have accused him of sixth-form sub-Trotsky bleatings. And of seeing the price of everything – gold carriages, state banquets, Kate’s shoes – while knowing the value of nothing.
I’ll bring up my recent business trip in Canada where a table of clever types sat in rapt wonderment wanting to hear of our sparkly, trooping, glamorous monarchy, refusing point-blank to believe we have a serious, snowballing republican movement. Why sweep away the pixie dust?
I may, at this point, even yell that if he thinks a republican Britain will lead to the masses admiring more worthy, meritocratic figures it is worth noting that Americans have now exalted the Kardashian family to unofficial First Family status. By this point the Labrador has put itself to bed, just in time for the first mention of Princess Beatrice of York. This, I admit, there is no answer for.
Princess Beatrice is the Radio 4 ‘Mornington Crescent’ of all republican versus monarchist square-offs. All roads lead to her and her supposed £300,000 worth of holidays in 2015 alone.
Yes, William and Kate might well fly the flag for British politeness, diplomacy and philanthropy. Pulling off a gaffe-free seven day whistle-stop hand-shaking endurance test in landlocked South Asia is hard to quibble with. But finding extensive evidence of Beatrice’s humble works is truly challenging, even if fitting fifteen holidays into twelve months while supposedly doing a Sony internship did show a real flair for time management.
It is often levelled that working class monarchists are a brainwashed, slightly slack-jawed bunch who see no fault in Buckingham Palace’s extended clique of liggers. I’d argue instead that pessimism about this crowd is most vibrant among those who would ostensibly uphold the status quo.
Sadly, I envisage it will be the likes of Beatrice, Eugenie and the various vacuous seventy-ninths and ninety-fifths to the throne festooning the cover of Tatler who’ll finish off the monarchy. It won’t be dependable, slightly boring William and Kate, who are the sort of Royals who can be dispatched on the request of the government to “contribute to the ongoing partnership between Britain and India” and “build on the friendly relations between the UK and Bhutan”.
They did this without faux-pas or hitch. We should be proud of them. In the long-term, this won’t be enough to save them.
The irony is that I don’t believe for one moment republicans will be even the slightest bit happier when they’re gone.