Regular readers will know that of late I’ve become more pragmatic on the question of the monarchy. I’ve met and chatted with a number of the royals, and found them pleasant enough people, with Camilla and Charles being perhaps the most forthcoming.
It’s generally agreed the present monarch has made a very good job of what she was expected to do: keep out of politics, see and be seen as much as possible in the UK, and knock ’em dead with the tiaras and British couture on foreign tours.
Although she herself doesn’t sell aircraft, chemicals, whisky, etc, after a short, but decent interval, British business follows in her wake, reviving memories of the effortless hospitality and the unforced style.
So my objections to a hereditary, non-elected head of state were smothered by the good work record of Elizabeth. The inequality and democratic shortcomings in our system were relegated to issues of lesser importance. I was wrong. And the old fires were rekindled when the news reached me of the new protocols of behaviour amongst royal folk. Most people expect the royal family to set an example of good behaviour, but if the royals do something silly, it should be remembered that a cat can laugh at a king.
UK citizens, or as she has been brought up to view them, her subjects, are facing years of difficulty and in too many cases, privation. We’re trying to find a way of saving this generation of workless young people from becoming a lost generation. When the fate of the eurozone casts a long shadow over prosperity here, when soup kitchens are proliferating, and homeless figures are reaching all-time highs, the Queen and her courtiers are worried about who curtsies to whom, and when.
The Queen commands that “blood” princesses will always merit a curtsey. The list of these bluest bloods includes a couple whose names we’ve forgotten and Prince Andrew’s daughters Eugenie and Beatrice. However, they are duty bound to curtsey to Camilla the commoner if she’s with Charles, but are allowed to pass by on the other side if she’s out grooming her horses or having lunch with the girls.
If she’s not with Charles, Camilla the commoner has to curtsey to Her Majesty the Queen, always, and, most of the time, Princess Anne. It’s not clear whether or not they rub noses when Charles isn’t present. When Camilla is accompanying Charles, rank dictates that it’s Anne who should bend the knee to her sister-in-law. But the barbarians would have to be at the gates before Anne would curtsey to Camilla.
And what about Kate the commoner? Who said she would bring a touch of the real lives lived outside the castle walls? She’s already been spotted curtseying to Prince Philip on the balcony at the Jubilee celebrations. The future queen, all going well, must curtsey to her husband’s girl cousins Beatrice and Eugenie, but only if she bumps into them without William at her side. She too, must genuflect to Camilla if she’s with Charles . . . presumably they each give a high five if both their “blood royal” spouses have gone fishing.
Such nonsense can be dismissed as a game for only one family, but its influence spreads outside the royal family and insidiously undermines our notions of democracy and equality. The cry is not “Off with their heads!” but in the 21st century it should be “Thank you, That will be all.”
Is that it?
OH no, it’s the “not the no-show” No campaign. The crusaders whose mission is to keep us all British and proud of it, or at least give Alex Salmond a bloody nose, crept into the spotlight on Monday. So sure of their ground are the organisers of the No campaign than they think that for the next two years people in Scotland won’t notice that they’re saying No to the Independence Referendum Question. And a week is said to be a long time in politics . . .
I rather liked the decision to have no showbiz celebs, but the alternative could only be experienced by spectators with strong stomachs. A female No campaigner talked with “ordinary people” in front of an audience of political leading lights, quite oblivious to how patronising that was.
But if the style of the abominable No men was attractively simple, the content of the No campaign narrative was very thin, and in places threadbare. Alastair Darling and Anwar Sarwar did the early morning radio programmes. Both repeated ad nauseam the mantra that we are stronger together, without saying what was stronger other than Alastair’s claim that we are better to have the strength of the UK banking system around us. Oh bring it on, please.