There is no such thing as a modern royal

As media hype builds around the royal wedding, Jay Staker wonders if the monarchy can ever change

Photo: Herry Lawford

Ah, another royal wedding. Not so long ago it was the Diamond Jubilee, then William got married, George was born, and now, at long last, Harry has found the one. At times of such rapturous national celebration, many of us will turn our TV screens off in the knowledge that for the coming weeks our news outlets will be preoccupied with nothing aside from the details of Harry and Meghan’s romance, the engrossing minutiae of the wedding arrangements, and a nicely packaged narrative about the latest invitee to the British establishment.

The monarchy is here to stay, at least for now. It takes a significant, albeit symbolic, position in our constitution, which makes it part of the foundations of our society. By marrying into the royal family, one marries into the political system. Royal status brings with it substantial influence; any member of the royal family has the ear of the monarch and the attention of the media. Furthermore, the royals, like it or not, are a representation of Britain abroad. As a result, some have argued that we should pay close attention to the royal family or even that it is incumbent on us as citizens to take an interest in royal affairs, including royal weddings. Our political system is ours to maintain.

As it so happens, Ms Markle seems an unobjectionable addition to the royal furniture. She is championed as an activist, a campaigner and a philanthropist. She is a feminist who maintains rather palatable pro-Clinton, anti-Brexit stances. And, most importantly, she looks the part. Or at least the media seems to think so. Somehow, instead of discussing climate change, or child poverty, or indeed whether Britain still profits from its monarchy, the media has become obsessed with Markle’s skin colour and constructed a discussion where there is none. She is paternally Caucasian and maternally African American and indeed, greater diversity among our white-as-wallpaper monarchy is welcome. But let’s not kid ourselves, this is not the great step forward the media is portraying it as. This does nothing to close the ethnic and socioeconomic divides that ravage the soul of this country. She is no working-class hero, and this is no rags-to-riches tale. Privately educated, the media has somehow neglected to mention that she is, in fact, of royal blood. Indeed, she is the cousin of her dearly beloved, fifteen times removed. This is not to minimise or discredit her or her achievements; indeed, this country’s burdens are not hers to bear. But as the media heralds a multiracial woman entering the upper echelons of our society, wages continue to stagnate and the universal credit rollout continues to leave many families penniless.

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It is claimed that the entry of a multiracial woman into the royal family is a triumph for representation, based on the idea that as society changes, the monarchy must adjust to reflect it. But such thinking is fundamentally confused; one is here applying democratic ideals to an antidemocratic institution. The monarchy, by its very nature, can never reflect the society that maintains it because it is based on the principle that some are born royal and some are not. Other than those women who have completed the necessary form explaining how their latest child was a result of a non-consensual act, Prince William and Princess Kate will be one of very few who will have three children supported by the state.

Let us be under no illusion about what purpose royal events truly serve. There are many in this country who take genuine interest in keeping up with the Windsors — we all have our hobbies. However, such events — weddings, births, jubilees — are far more important to the monarchy, the institution, than they are to us. The monarchy relies upon these displays of pageantry to maintain its ever-diminishing relevance to British political and cultural life. In modern Britain, it is our shared values that produce our solidarity, not our shared head of state. Days off work, street parties, nationwide tours: these all serve the same purpose, to make the monarchy relevant to British identity.

Realistically, the media’s obsession with the royal family, the same obsession that plagued Diana until her end, will never cease; it is up to us to know when to turn off the TV. Births and weddings are merely the celebration of the monarchy increasing its burden on tax-payers, while jubilees are nothing more than the acknowledgement that our unelected head of state has not, as yet, been replaced by another unelected head of state. So, I wish the couple well, but know that I will not be celebrating another royal wedding.

1 COMMENT

  1. “As it so happens, Ms Markle seems an unobjectionable addition to the royal furniture. She is championed as an activist… She is a feminist who maintains rather palatable pro-Clinton, anti-Brexit stances… greater diversity among our white-as-wallpaper monarchy is welcome…”

    I think you will find that there are many people who think that she is an extremely objectionable addition to the royal furniture, being divorced, a soap actress, American, half-black, a feminist, and left-wing. The British people have not warmed to her, and are unlikely to do so. Over the holiday she was photographed sticking her tongue out at reporters. So already she cannot cope with the press attention and the restrictions of royal life. Like most royal marriages these days, this one is going to end badly. She will divorce Harry (who, she will discover in due course, is completely talentless and uninteresting) and sue him for every penny he has.

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