This insane arrangement has to end sometime
Prince Philip has died, and the UK is in the midst of eight days of national mourning.
It seems a good time to reflect on the monarchy. It’s sad that Philip died. Well, as sad as the death of any other 99-year-old man. Just about the only impact he had on my life, or anyone else I know, is through the outdoor pursuits of the Duke of Edinburgh Award taken by students in schools. It’s a nice initiative.
However, with complaints already building regarding the perceived OTT response to Philip’s passing, it begs the somewhat distasteful, albeit unavoidable, question of what will happen when the Queen dies?
Now, I’m a fairly pragmatic chap and I appreciate that there will already be well-established plans and protocols in place for when Elizabeth leaves this mortal coil. So instead, I want to address a slightly different question — what should happen when the Queen dies? Well, I have my own answer prepared already.
Let’s end the monarchy.
The argument against the monarchy
I’m serious about this. I think it’s time that we faced up to the reality that our constitutional monarchy has dissolved into an insane anachronism, unfit for a modern state and comparable only to a bizarre, long-running reality television show.
They are absurd
I think we can all agree that Elizabeth comes across as a pretty decent human being. She genuinely seems nice. As with most of the world, I have no beef with the Queen on a personal level.
The rest of the royals, however, go a long way to making the Addams family look like the Flanders.
Suffice to say that Philip’s legacy will be …complicated. If I spoke to people at work the way he did, I would be sacked before the day was out. That’s not an exaggeration.
Charles, the Prince of Wales and second in line to the throne, is at best considered faintly mad, and at worst has made a habit of undermining Parliamentary democracy. Prince Andrew has questions to answer about his friendship with convicted sex offender and pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein. Harry thought it was a good idea to dress as a Nazi to attend a party. Years later, with his wife Meghan, he was the one laying out accusations of racism with the royal family.
These are just the most recent I can think of. For as long as I’ve been alive, the British royal family has been characterized by scandal after scandal after scandal. It’s embarrassing.
They are entitled — literally
The royal family provide the very definition of entitlement. The sovereign grant means they have a birth entitlement to millions of pounds each year (more than £80m in 2020), not including the other benefits of state property and security or their own personal wealth and incomes.
If I decided that just as a consequence of my birth, everyone else had to support me financially, providing a lifestyle of exceptional luxury and extravagance, I’d be called lazy, entitled, a sponger, a drain on society. Give me a royal title, and apparently, it’s fine.
It’s not the 17th century
400 years ago a monarchy probably seemed like a sensible way of ruling a country. Everyone was doing it. In France, Spain, Sweden and across Europe, monarchies were all the rage. But then so was the Black Death, and we got rid of that.
I don’t know about you, but it just seems slightly insane that in 2021 we’ve harnessed the power of the atom, connected the world across the internet, eradicated smallpox, landed robots on Mars, produced self-driving electric cars and yet over in the good ‘ol UK, we retain a head of system of statehood that Shakespeare would be familiar with.
Are you not entertained?
I know the rest of the world loves the British Royal Family. They give good scandal, put together a great wedding, and look fantastic on cheap tourist crap.
Yet, it feels like having that crazy uncle who always got into trouble and caused a spectacle at a wedding reception. Great fun to watch, but you always kinda felt sorry for your cousin who was stuck with him in the car going home. As Brits, we’re the cousin.
It’s probably great watching the royals from the outside, but we’re the ones paying for that shit-show. We’ve got to live with it.
Royals are just better (apparently)
Having a royal family means saying that a group of people are just better than everyone else. They didn’t earn it. They can’t lose it. They’re just better. You disagree? Tough. There’s no way around it. That’s what royalty is.
I can’t get my head around that.
Perhaps I’m just a dirty republican, but I just don’t believe that Prince William was born a more worthy, valuable human being than me.
Let’s quit while we’re ahead
As I noted above, there seems to be universal agreement that the Queen is generally lovely and done about as well as anyone could do in that role.
So let’s quit while we’re ahead.
She’s the longest serving monarch in our history and has overseen the transition from Britain as an imperial colonial power to Britain as a modern democracy.
I can’t think of a better time to let go of this outdated institution.
Let’s face it, things aren’t going to get better. Why not wind things up in a controlled, orderly manner and avoid a chaotic, train-wreck of a collapse?
The royals are not helpless. They possess huge private wealth. They’ll land on their feet. Don’t worry about them. The royals barely survived the 20th century, and it’s already looking ropey just two decades into the 21st.
Queen Elizabeth will probably go down in history as the greatest British monarch. It seems to me like a fair assessment. However, as memories of feudalism and empire drift in the past, I personally think we could do a lot worse than drawing a line under the whole thing there.
Long live the Queen. Down with the monarchy.