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The Royal Family

 

 

 

 

 

Anachronistic absurdity

 

"The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living." Karl Marx

 

A coalition of opportunity

Once upon a time kings and queens were not that important throughout Roman Britain and after the Romans went home, calling yourself king or queen was not going to get you a royal grant. People were largely content to be led by warrior chiefs before the Anglo-Saxons created England and during the 8th Century the notion of kingship took on a new guise and a coalition of opportunity arose between kings and the Church of Rome. Offa, of Dike fame, recognised that having papal legates to anoint his son king lent legitimacy to the occasion. It was not long before the church began to chant about the divine right of kings.

Why do so few citizens question the fact we have an unelected head of state and why we have 800 unelected lords taking part, or sleeping through, the business of government and politicians in the Commons kidding themselves they are ‘Right Honourable’ due to their membership of the outmoded Privy Council, and a land full of barons, earls and knights, who have never taken part in a joust in their life. How can we expect such anachronistic absurdities to lead to a modern progressive society? Voting advocates will be at the head of the queue to tell you that all this absurdity is central to maintaining our democracy.

And right they are, anachronistic absurdity is central to maintaining our democracy — that is why we need to be done with it. What sort of democracy is it that hails a family so special that they resemble the characters from a Marvel comic, endowed with powers beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.

The pressure group Republic want to be done with the Queen but seems unable to free itself from the idea that we do not need a head of state. They argue against a ceremonial head like the Queen but want to replace her with an elected head of state, someone to referee the political process. But surely, if we had a written constitution, that sets out the rules about how the country should be governed and that clearly places limits on politicians’ powers, then we do not need a referee: even if the referee turns out much cheaper than the crew from Marvel comics.

The thing to grasp about the British political system is that it should not be compared with countries elsewhere that have a president, prime minister and a parliament. Britain’s system has both feet firmly stuck in the past. Republic’s plan to replace a queen with president is too simplistic, there is much else to be done with.

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Disestablishment of the Church!

The Queen is the protector of the faith, so shutting down the church would relieve her of the burden. We live in an ex officio society, this is certainly true when it comes to the Church of England. Today the Lords Spiritual, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the 24 most senior Bishops of the Church of England sit in the Lords. This makes the UK the only western democracy that grants the clergy an automatic right to sit in the legislature. The fact is that the intertwining of the monarch and the church goes back centuries, as far back as the City of London’s ‘missed time’. You know, that would be the time when historians were rare, as rare as someone who owned a biro to record the intertwining. The church is ever limping along behind social change. How many committee meetings did it take to allow for women bishops and how long will it be before they accept same-sex marriage?

Life is full of mystery, like how do elements of the press, always looking out for families abusing the benefits system, miss a family in receipt of £82.2 million a year. Of course they do not miss anything, they just ignore it, they ignore the fact that this family was given a pay rise of 50% in 2017. At the same time that nurses, firefighters and soldiers got just 1%. The family in question, the lottery winners, at the public expense, was the Windsors, the UK’s royal family. And their package included the renovation to their 500 room family home, at a cost of £300 million plus. A person from the Crown Estates said, “When you consider that against what the Queen does and represents for this country, I believe it represents excellent value for money”. Using the term ‘value for money’ in connection with a group of people who cut a few ribbons, attend several five star lunches, visit sunny locations across the globe and wave a lot is ridiculous. We are also told to be aware of all the charity work they do but you wont find them outside the local super market rattling a tin at you. Collectively the Royals managed 3,000 official engagements, according to a report, “the activities of the wider Royal Family are vital in bringing the monarchy into direct and personal contact with all sections of society.” You cannot apply cost-benefit analysis to the activities of the Royal family but clearly it does them good, mixing with human beings. All Royal advocates do is offer up the old chestnut about how much money is brought in from tourists as a reason for our patronage of the Royal family.

And when they are not meeting and greeting, you will find them in the counting house counting out their money. In 2016/17 income from the Crown Estates rose by 8.1% to £328.8 million, Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall produced £20.7million; Charles sent £3.5million over to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to run their households. Actually, the Royals do not count their own money.

It is clear that the Queen takes no interest in her own affairs. Keen to set high standards we might expect her to have instructed those who managed her finances to invest ethically and avoid tax dodging. However, she thought that her affairs were in good hands when she gave a knighthood to the Chairman of the Duchy of Lancaster. This event more or less coincided with the publication of the Paradise Papers. It seemed that the Duchy was investing in the BrightHouse chain. That champion of the people Ed Miliband, highlighted an example from the company’s business model, e.g., supplying a washing machine for £358 that ended up costing more than £1,000. They were told by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to pay £14.8m back to 249,000 customers. BrightHouse sell goods on the ’never-never’, i.e., a small down payment followed by more than you can afford for the rest of life. It is mildly amusing that we have a Queen living in a state equivalent to J. M. Barrie’s Never Land, investing in a never-never trading company . The Royal association with BrightHouse was not good, perhaps worse, the Royals, that is, the Queen and Prince Charles, were implicated in offshore tax avoidance. The Duchy of Lancaster and Cornwall have commercial and residential property portfolio and financial investments, these provide them with a private income. Much of this income ends up in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. If the Queen were to be called to account for her tax affairs she might fairly claim that her affairs were in the hands the Council of the Duchy but the Prince claims to be very hands on his Duchy and is aware of every penny earned by his peons and spent, mainly by him. The Prince is also not averse to lobbying on behalf of his investments, such as Sustainable Forestry Management and carbon credit traders.

They tell us: "The royals are a key driver that attract people from the UK and abroad to the capital." This is pure speculation and has no substance in fact. Indeed, it seems to ignore the facts, for instance, Windsor Castle is the most visited royal residence but only ranks 24th on the list of tourist attractions.
Visit London did not say how many of those visitors would be Russian oligarchs, Chinese millionaire gang masters and Arab camel barons, in town just to add more hot air to Boris Johnson's London housing bubble.

 

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Mass Hysteria: Another mouth to feed....

In Britain we live with the absurdity of the citizenry genuflecting and forelock tugging in the direction of the Windsor family. For republicans it's an embarrassing spectacle bordering on insanity.

Although you prepare yourself for the spectacle, although you know that the peasants are about to start dancing again, you will always be astounded. Idiotic media types shove microphones under the noses of the dancers, perchance to gather an unpolished gem of inspired reflection on the wonderment of the occasion. It's marvellous, it's wonderful and they relate how pleased and full of joy they are, and how they have travelled miles to stand outside a private hospital wing to stare at the closed doors. The news coverage lasted a full week, nothing happened, the doors stayed closed, veteran media types were becoming short tempered, having nothing to report. Obsequious Royal correspondent, Nicolas Witchell, attempted to transform the monotony of it all into an even longer drawn out yarn. Witchell told the Independent: "I was just trying to be engagingly self-deprecating." He also observed that television cameras pointing at the closed doors of the Lindo Wing was just absurd.

Kate Middleton, who married into the Windsor family and metamorphosed into the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son. An otherwise quite unremarkable event, given that over 2000 other children were born in Britain on the same day, except that this one is inexplicably special. In truth, we simply don't know what specialness this new addition to those who occupy the top of the social canopy possesses, so we will just have to take it on trust and wait for special things to happen. Perhaps he will join the forces, learn to fly a helicopter and play polo well. Perhaps he will work as a tea boy for some second rate theatre company. Perhaps he will become a special envoy and fly all over the globe, with his over-sized ironing board, meeting and greeting and dining with murderous dictators. Perhaps he will dress like his grand father, talk to trees, set up a worthy trust, and spend his days wondering if his turn will ever come.

Another crowd gathered outside Buckingham Palace to stare at a piece of paper announcing the new arrival. The media said that the piece of paper announced the new arrival, not that it could be read from the beyond the locked gates; it may well have said, ‘Get lost and get a life’. The peasants and world's media moved on to stare at Kensington Palace. How long they would maintain their staring vigil is unknown but be assured that the BBC will be interviewing an expert later.

Men who stair at goats — what about people who stair at doors? The 2009 film ‘Men who stair at goats’ introduces us to the US army’s attempts to introduce psychic techniques into its warring efforts. By several accounts much that the film tells us has a basis in truth.

Bag of bones found in car park

In September 2012, Richard III’s bones were found at the site of the former Greyfriars Friary Church in Leicester. Following much testing by experts of bones buried for 500 years, a decision was made to make a big fuss and reinter the bones at Leicester Cathedral.

In March 2015, 35,000 people turned out to watch the 500 year old bag of bones being driven through Leicester, not much to gladden the heart there, that is, for anyone expecting some post-modern indifference towards a fifteenth century psychopath. There are of course absurdists among us, like the lunatic Richard III Society, whose aim is to restore the king’s reputation, something to do with two missing princes and the damage done by Shakespeare’s play. It was they who commissioned the bone digging.

Trade in Chinese souvenir tat was brisk on the day, and much value was added to the notion of Britishness. This was most important in the Year of British Values that David Cameron found himself struggling to promote with the reverberations of the Trojan Horse letter still keeping him awake at night. Mr Cameron’s attempts to define British values fooled no one, talk of fish and chips really did not carry the day. He tried to save his inability to define British values by invoking the spectre of the 13th century Magna Carta, the peasants did not read it then and are unlikely to do so now. Still, that is what British Tory values are all about, forever looking backwards for something to celebrate. It distracts the mind marvellously from the rotten uncivilised chaos of the world today. To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, beware distractions that divert your attention, as changes are made to your affairs, which you will not appreciate until it is too late.

Note: Trojan Horse Letter, instructions on how to install new governors with the aim of taking over schools in Birmingham and introducing Islam-friendly changes.

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Royal couple boost earnings

May 2015, the Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, gave birth to another child, a healthy baby girl. The new birth boosted Royal income, they are now entitled to £34.40 in child benefit! This time round the world's media did not embarrass itself by commentating aimlessly about nothing for a week and inflicting pictures of closed hospital doors onto our TV sets every evening. The peasants, once again, celebrated, cheered and danced deliriously, as if they had just been named in the family will. They left chanting "Princess, Princess", before returning to their wretched hovels. There is no known medical cure for forelock-tugging deference.

The BBC's royal correspondent, still waiting for a knighthood, Stupid Nick did cover the over-night pervigilium at Kensington Palace, he doesn't know why but then he has been Stupid since his christening. With no news to report, Stupid made up his report covering the lack of movement that he witnessed. The Royal quartet all slept as if they had done a days work, being untroubled by the need to pay the hateful bedroom tax for all those empty rooms at Kensington Palace. The needs of the, as yet, unnamed child, were catered for by a squadron of zero hours agency nannies. Stupid said they just love the flexibility and travel opportunities; next stop Norfolk and one’s Sandringham Estate, although the nanny package excludes travel expenses.

Some chump from the Centre for Retail Research, Joshua Bamfield, estimated that the new child would add £150 million per annum to the UK's economy.
Blow us all down with a feather, now we know why we tolerate them. However, it just might be the case that Mr Bamfield is a demented idiot. Then we had an announcement from Visit London that they expected 32 million visitors from abroad that summer. Would they be expecting an audience with the unnamed one? The key question for sociologists is how many children does Kate Middleton have to have before the public gets bored? She is due to give birth again in late April 2018. According to the Daily Telegraph: “Kensington Palace delighted the nation in September when it announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their third child.” Why on earth should the nation be delighted because Kate Middleton cannot stop having babies.

The point here is not solely that the idea of a royal family is absurd, it’s the viral effect that the institution of monarchy has on the psyche of the population. There’s nothing right about telling our children that this family is unaccountably more special than all the other families in the nation. As Tom Paine pointed out:

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

He also said:

“One of the biggest problems standing in the way of making sense of the world is that most people think they have already managed it.”

Fillip for Winsor 2018

Another £2 million of our money has been spent on the wedding of Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie and Mr. Jack Brooksbank.

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