Cultural Caviar

Loyal to the Royals

May 10, 2011

Maybe we are too fixated on personality (or its modern equivalent, celebrity). Monarchy is actually at its best—and indeed survives—because it is dull and somewhat distant. It’s our mood music. Make it too familiar, loud, or close, and we will grow irritated or bored. It requires a safe pair of hands rather than flamboyance, the occasional carriage drive down the Mall rather than a monarch on a bicycle. Royalty is at its worst—and its lowest ebb—when it yearns to go street and “get down wid da people.” Perhaps you do not remember the ghastliness of The Grand Knockout Tournament—AKA It’s a Royal Knockout—the game show in which ill-advised young royals participated and almost wrecked the dignity of their office and position. There was Edward poncing about with a feather in his hat, Fergie behaving as a drunken barmaid, and Anne scowling as sour as a grapefruit. A low point. I swear I started losing my sight from that moment. (The nightmares have taken longer to expunge.) The Queen is admired precisely because she resolutely stays herself and is not a faddist. Some might call it unimaginative. But unimaginative is good…unimaginative is the opposite of risky and flaky…unimaginative is the secret to longevity and success. The institution is all that matters.

No system is perfect. Surrounded by the yes-men, lickspittle grotesques, and third-rate homosexual cabin-crew types elevated to Buckingham Palace’s liveried realm, it is unsurprising many royals grow up without proper judgment or advice. Yet fawning and toadying spring up wherever there is power or privilege, and the royal court is no exception. And because real executive power lies elsewhere, the damage tends to be superficial. At least William has a circle of trusted friends. The auguries are good.

Our monarchy costs every British citizen per year the equivalent price of a loaf of bread. Factor in the tax it now pays, the tourism it brings, the charities it supports, the broadcast fees and media print runs it generates—and the Exchequer is talking a handsome profit. Not a bad return. And not a poor performance for an octogenarian female who is working well past the standard retirement age.

The spiteful anti-monarchists are in a dispirited state, for their support base is moribund and no one can hear them above the crowd’s patriotic roar. We have a monarchy, so let us celebrate and be grateful and proud.

People in Scotland were lukewarm toward the royal wedding and will doubtless prove equally unenthusiastic for the sovereign’s Diamond Jubilee next year. I would expect nothing less of these ugly, chippy, wife-beating alcoholics north of the border. Ironically, they cost England far more to subsidize than the monarchy ever has.


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