Monday, 4 June 2012
I have nothing against the Queen.
I prefer to think of her as a celebrity called Elizabeth Windsor, who happens to have inherited a lot of wealth and whose job it is to draw tourists into the country and place the United Kingdom into the limelight worldwide.
And that works for me.
My own personality type is such that I have a big problem with anybody who claims to be my better. I am certain there are really talented people out there in the big wide world who are better than me in some ways – I accept that. But these people are not worthy of me bowing to them or addressing them in such a way that makes me subservient to them.
And that goes for the Queen.
Don’t get me wrong; I would gladly go to Buckingham Palace and spend the afternoon sitting down with her and other members of the royal family, chatting about life, the universe and everything over afternoon tea.
I would not bow to her, though and I would want not refer to her as “ma’am”, “Your Royal Highness” or any other such terms.
I would call her “Elizabeth”. After all – that is her name is it not?
Elizabeth is Queen because she happened to be the daughter of King George VI, a man who himself was son of a previous King. And so it has been for centuries. She’s done nothing special – not really.
She is not better than me. She is just a person. I do not regard her as my ruler.
She is just a fellow Brit.
I have found the Diamond Jubilee celebrations a bit of a paradox; I like the idea that we should highlight the United Kingdom and show off to the world and all of the patriotism that goes with it, seeing people waving the Union Jack and celebrating everything that is British.
On the other hand, the focus of those celebrations is Elizabeth. The reason we are celebrating is because she has ruled for 60 years; we have been subservient to this woman for 60 years.
Elizabeth has been Queen all of my life. I have seen her face on stamps, coins and bank notes ever since I can remember. Hardly a day has gone by in my entire life when she hasn’t been in the newspapers, on television or brought to my attention in some other way.
It’s almost like she is a member of MY family.
Of course in real terms, she is a figurehead, these days. She has no real power, other than ceremonial and traditional. It’s not like, say, Tudor times, when a tyrant like Henry VIII ruled with a rod of iron.
Imagine living in England during the reign of Henry VIII? If he were to read any blog posts criticising the monarchy from the likes of a plebeian like me, I would find a number of royal soldiers on the doorstep of my hovel whose sole purpose would be to butcher me in the most painful way possible for being arrogant enough to dare to challenge the King’s right to rule me.
Thank goodness I live in the 21st century.
I can now tell everyone my feelings without fear of reprisal.
I have watched bits of the jubilee celebrations with mixed feelings. It’s great to see people celebrating Britain but I cringe with all the sycophancy that accompanies it. All news stations are biased, perhaps understandably so, and actually don’t tell the full story.
For example, with the camera on the Queen’s face, the commentator said something like:
“I’ve never seen the Queen looking happier; she is thoroughly enjoying this.”
What I saw was the Queen looking quite stern, clearly not smiling – in fact she was grimacing at the rain that was threatening to ruin the spectacle of the flotilla of boats on the Thames.
And then the interviews with royalist spectators;
“Oh she’s WONDERFUL! I LOVE her; she’s done a magnificent job for 60 years. Long may she reign over us.”
And that sums up the problem for me. The Queen is the original “celebrity” for me, a person who shows up at various functions, cuts ribbons, makes the odd speech, smiles and waves, tells us all about what she thinks at Christmas and has her face on our currency.
I recently visited the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels and was kind of shocked at the opulence. Elizabeth is so wealthy, so utterly rich that it is almost obscene. She has done nothing to earn that wealth other than be born into it.
People like to remark about how the royal family do so much for charity but they could sell one of the crowns and then use the money to feed the starving in Africa – or even help the needy in their own country.
When I see people fawning over royalty, I see the same undeserving adulation as people who claim to love people like Katie Price and Kerry Katona.
As I said, I don’t hate the Queen at all; she was born into the role she has and she is obliged by the system to sit comfortably within that role until she dies or decides that she’s had enough, when it will all be handed over to her son Prince Charles.
What I am not comfortable with is the actual role itself and the concept of the monarchy in general. Maybe it is the anarchist within me; maybe it is the rebel who wants all men to be equal.
Power corrupts and people who have such power generally abuse it in some way. History is full of examples of this and my own country has an absolutely horrific history. Imagine Henry VIII on the throne now.
I’m not saying that the Queen would ever consider being such a tyrant. But I am willing to bet that in a conversation between us, she would not be even vaguely interested in my life – simply because she would regard me as such an insignificant person.
I, on the other hand, would be very interested in her life. I would love to spend a couple of hours listening to her true thoughts on the monarchy, the lives of ordinary people in Britain and so on.
You may think that this is not a worthy post for such a celebration of Britain but I don’t care really. As far as I am concerned, Elizabeth has fulfilled her role very well and will undoubtedly smash the record set by Queen Victoria to become the longest reigning monarch in UK history. In that respect she will have had to have endured the role and all it entails for longer than any of her ancestors.
And she probably deserves some recognition for that.
Well done Elizabeth.