So, it’s official, Britain and her former colonial enslavements have a new monarch, King Charles III, the old one, Queen Elizabeth II having died 8 September 2022.
He was enthroned on 6 May at a pompous archaic event in London. A pantomime, which cost the public purse an estimated (by Republic) £250 million – partly funded it is reported, by money allocated for food banks; so ‘the state’ literally taking the food out of the mouths of the needy. The exact cost remains hidden, by a Conservative government that looks and acts more like a paranoid dictatorship with every passing day.
Does such an obscene event have any relevance in our 21 Century world? None at all, not only is it outdated and irrelevant, it is repugnant. The very existence of monarchy and the class system over which it presides, ensures the perpetuation of social injustice (including almost total lack of social mobility), discrimination in a variety of forms, inequality, poverty and exploitation.
Far from being a benign body of national unity, the monarchy is a deeply political structure; a crumbling construct of privilege and arrogance, which is sustained by the prevailing system of grinding injustice. It serves not the people, but a system of political, social control and division; a hollow structure which cannot withstand proper scrutiny, and so hides behind the artifice of tradition and pomp.
May’s Crowning Fiasco played out across the national/international TV and radio networks, led inevitably by the nauseating, sycophantic BBC. A costume drama rooted in the Middle Ages, where it should have been left, piped directly into the minds of the populous, who were asked by the (Eton educated), Archbishop of Canterbury – Justin Welby, to “pledge allegiance to the King”. Unbelievable! What century do they think we are living in?
Charles himself, King Charles III, appeared embarrassed by the ludicrous pomp and endless fuss. However, his reported intention to scale it back was ignored, presumably by the government. To the Tories the coronation was an opportunity to distract attention from their ineptitude and the collective misery that is Life in Broken Britain, and stir up some rain-sodden nationalism (think Rule De-Brexit), upon which they rely for the meagre sustenance still available to them.
A weak figurehead of neutrality and indifference
The existence of Monarchy is anathema to true democracy and social justice. It is an obscenity actually, a powerful, poisonous ingredient within a cocktail of political control and social injustice. Those standing in the pouring rain to catch a glimpse of the horse-drawn farce were broadly working class – the very people who have been most severely downtrodden for generations, by the monarchy and the Nation State that it supports. And, one suspects, in many cases, the same misguided, misled 52% that voted to shoot themselves in the leg and leave the EU.
What is the function of such a body — the ‘Royal Family’, with their wealth, land and numerous properties? Certain individual members may do some good work, Charles has been a global advocate for environmental responsibility for decades and many young people have been helped through the Prince’s Trust, set up before he took over the top job. All well and good, but many civil society organizations do similar, if not more effective work, and environmental activism is possible for anyone, everyone and nobody – Greta Thunberg or Elizabeth Wathuti spring to mind for example. Neither, to my knowledge are from ‘royal’ families, but they have inspired a whole generation of environmental activists around the world.
If the monarch were a ‘true king’ he/she/they would be an advocate for the people, a voice for the oppressed, a political force for good, not a weak figurehead of neutrality and indifference.
On the Dreary Day, a group of activists from Republic (an anti-monarchy movement), including the leader of the organization, were arrested by the Metropolitan Police, using recently passed anti-protest legislation, which all but outlaws peaceful protest. And the King (in public at least) has said nothing in their defence, or the defence of human rights and freedom of expression more widely; rights that the far right Tory government would strip away totally if allowed to.
Throughout the world the shift towards totalitarianism is growing and intensifying: Human rights, agreed international conventions/laws are under threat. Mis/dis-information is widespread and the poisonous rhetoric of division and hate (against minorities, refugees/asylum seekers – ‘the other’) has, in many places infiltrated the mainstream. In Britain the process of State control and repression is well under way, and the monarchy, as an integral aspect of the Nation State, weak and indifferent, is part of this suffocating project.
Participation, social justice and freedom are inherent in the democratic ideal, such values are incompatible within a country with an unelected Head of State. A growing number of people throughput the UK (and the commonwealth) recognise this fact, and believe the head of state should be elected. The Royals represent the loudest display of social division and injustice, not just in the UK, but the world.
It needs either to be completely re-defined or, and this is the preference of many, (particularly under 35 year olds), consigned to the past and pushed to the tatty margins of contemporary British society. A wide-ranging national review is required, one that looks not just at the role and existence of the monarchy, but a broader investigation that examines the relationship between ‘the people’ and government, including how the ‘voice of the people’ can be heard more clearly, and how government policy is made; the make-up of the second chamber (House of Lords), the election system (first past the post being completely undemocratic) regional government, assemblies and devolved powers.
Democracy is an ideal, one that is championed by western nations. Its values of social justice, freedom of expression and adherence to the rule of law are indeed good and laudable. But such values are incompatible where concentrations of power and wealth, inequality and social injustice exist. Indeed ‘true democracy’ is impossible where the dictates of Market Fundamentalism, so beloved by Haters of Justice and Freedom everywhere, dominate socio-economic-political affairs. It is this Ideology of Greed and Division and the ‘values’ it extolls that is at the heart of most, if not all of our problems. The discussion around the British monarchy, which is starting to ignite and will grow and deepen, needs to take in the wider issue of wealth and income inequality and the poisonous economic system that fuels it.