Myriad thoughts ran through my head as I partially watched today’s event.
“What contact or connection do commoners have with royalty?” None whatsoever, for the majority of them.
“Why would a human bow, curtsy or genuflect before another human to show deference or servility?”
“What must it be like to be referred to as ‘subjects of the monarchy’ and not ‘citizens’?
See, that’s the difference right there between the British and the French.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose political philosophy influenced the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe as well as aspects of the French Revolution, argued against the idea that monarchs were divinely empowered to rule. It is only the people who are sovereign, who have that all-powerful right, he attested. (This explains why the French populace, right up to today, are such fervent street protesters.) “C’est la rue qui gouverne” is the adage in France. Translation: It’s the street that rules.
France abolished its monarchy in 1792. The last king, Louis XVI, was executed by guillotine in a public square. Nine months later, his wife, Queen Marie-Antoinette, met with the same fate. It was she who supposedly said “Let them eat cake”, her response upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread. Because cake is more expensive than bread, the anecdote served as an example of Marie-Antoinette’s obliviousness to the conditions and daily lives of ordinary people.
Which brings us back to the core members of the British royal family (I exclude the younger generation). They are not ordinary. From birth, they have led exalted, rarefied lives surrounded by great wealth, privilege and a retinue of attendants: manservants, ladies-in-waiting, valets, grooms, gardeners and stablemen, to name a few. They are distant, detached and disconnected from their subjects. Although it is true that Princess Anne, actively involved in 300 different charities, is known to be the hardest-working member of the family. I happen to think that Anne is kinda cool. While the other royals, cloaked and swaddled in their silks and finery, sat in comfort inside Westminster Abbey, she chose to ride on horseback (in the rain) with the Household Cavalry Regiment and serve as bodyguard to her older brother during the procession.
Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, rumblings of discontent have amplified. Why does the monarchy still exist in 2023? What purpose does it serve? And why must British taxpayers fund the ludicrously wealthy royal family’s expenses? The total amount paid in 2021-2022 was 86.3 million pounds. Britons are struggling. Since Brexit, the Ukraine war and COVID, child poverty, hunger and food banks have increased dramatically. Some pensioners (senior citizens) must choose between HEAT or EAT. Energy bills have skyrocketed despite oil and gas firms reaping obscene profits in the billions.
Charles and Camilla, gem-studded crowns on their heads, transported through the streets of London in a golden carriage (drawn by six white horses) … it’s phantasmagorical; they look like characters in a fairy tale or a Disney movie. Strip away the artifice and they’re just humans like the rest of us …. aren’t they??
The British Royal Family does not reflect today’s society. It’s anachronistic.
Listen to this articulate anti-monarchist on a popular English radio call-in show. I’m a fan of James O’Brien who is virulently opposed to the British Conservative Party which is similar to the Republicans in the USA –