Social Affairs

Let’s consign the monarchy to the history books

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Before I begin, allow me to make one thing absolutely clear.

Unlike Piers Morgan, I believe Meghan Markle. I truly believe that social isolation and a culture of racism made her feel that her life was not worth living. And I also believe that the subsequent decisions that she and her husband took probably saved her life. 

Watching Meghan Markle discuss her mental health, it struck me as really quite amazing that Piers Morgan had declared that he did not believe her (like the majority of people in the UK, I had seen Morgan’s comments before actually seeing exactly what Markle had to say.) In fact, I’d say it was practically impossible to feeling nothing but the deepest sympathy for her.

It is, sadly, not surprising that race and racism were key problems in this story. The story that a senior member of the Royals had asked what colour the couple’s baby was going to be was, whilst utterly appalling, not entirely surprising. 

At least, it wasn’t surprising unless your name is Harry, and you’re married to Meghan Markle. Because Harry, in a rather baffling declaration, told Oprah Winfrey that he had never really appreciated issues of race and racism until he met his now-wife. And, even more to the point, he was so shocked about what he’d learnt that he has attempted to educate his family. 

So far, so absurd. 

Are we really expected to believe that the man who dug into the dressing-up box, and came back out of it with a swastika armband, had never really appreciated these issues? And did racism really not cross his mind when he referred to a fellow soldier as ‘our little Pa*i friend?’ Of course, when Harry told an officer cadet, ‘fuck me, you look like a rag-head’, a spokesman for St James’s Palace reassured us that he was simply meaning ‘Taliban or Iraqi insurgent.’ 

That’s okay then; no racism there. 

It is, of course, probably quite unsurprising that Harry has such a blindspot when it comes to racism. After all, his whole family accept the legitimacy of the Commonwealth as easily as you or I accept the legitimacy of putting our left shoe on our left foot. 

In fact, even after everything that has happened over the last few years, Harry himself continues to blindly accept the legitimacy of the Commonwealth. In a rather bizarre and shocking throwaway statement, Harry told Oprah that surely Meghan was perfect for the public image of the Royals and the Commonwealth. Not one to be outdone, Meghan also spoke about representation in the same breath in which she spoke about the Commonwealth being a ‘huge part of the monarchy.’ 

That’s the very same Commonwealth, by the way, that was born from the bloody colonial violence of the British Empire. It’s not exactly a secret that it was established in order to extend that beacon of imperialism, and keep subjugated people firmly under the thumb of an archaic institution thousands of miles away. 

The Royals may like to pretend that the Commonwealth ‘exists to foster international co-operation’ but, in my humble opinion, co-operation should include (as a minimum requirement) a rotating leadership. But, in doing that, the Queen would simultaneously have to accept that her claim to power is illegitimate, and that her beloved Commonwealth is the offspring of a violent and oppressive regime. 

Where was all that in Meghan and Harry’s tell-all interview with international TV super-star Oprah Winfrey? 

I reject any argument that claims these issues are completely irrelevant. Because if you want to talk about race, racism, and the Royals, you have to talk about the fact that the institution’s history cannot be separated from the history of colonialism. The racism that Meghan Markle experienced can only be understood when you contextualise it into its disordered whole. 

That disordered whole, by the way, is not just the Royal relationship with race. I’m talking about the whole institution; the very idea of monarchy. 

But to talk about those issues, we have to talk about class, which was something quite far off Harry and Meghan’s agenda. Consider, for instance, Harry’s rather tone-deaf confession that he had been financially ‘cut off’ when he and his family moved away, and he had to use his own money.  

It’s quite remarkable that, with more and more Brits struggling to make ends meet, Harry had the temerity to complain about his financial situation. And let’s not forget, here, that Meghan reportedly earned $50,000 per episode of Suits. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t expect to see them lining up at the food bank any time in the near future.

The couple’s wealth, by the way, is a small drop in the pond of the great wealth that the Royals have accrued. Not that we’d know exactly how much they have because they purposefully obscure the actual figure from the public, as the Guardian so expertly revealed earlier this year. 

In fact, Harry let it slip in the interview that the Royals have another way of obscuring the truth from the public. Shockingly (in the sense that it he actually said it, not that it happens) Harry confessed that the Royals have quite a cosy agreement with the tabloid press. The Royals give journalists access, and journalists put thank them for the access with a form of PR. 

It’s an absolutely disgraceful state of affairs that the Royal Family consolidates its power, its wealth and its privilege, through backhanders with the press, and back room deals with politicians. 

But make no mistake here. This is all about class. 

It’s about class because people are starving to death, and the hereditary institution of head of state seeks to extend its hegemonic power. 

It’s all about class because the NHS is underfunded and underprepared, and still the taxpayer is expected to subsidise Elizabeth Windsor and co’s lavish lifestyle.  

It’s all about class because black people are more likely to be stopped and searched whilst walking down the street, and Andrew Windsor still has his privileged position despite the most despicable of allegations made against him.

Along with class, another matter far from the minds of Harry and Meghan was the only valid solution to these problems. 

Let me be absolutely clear: the monarchy is an institution that survives (in fact, cannot survive without) class antagonism and inequality. By keeping ‘the people’ away from controlling and influencing it, it is an unjust institution. And an unjust institution is an illegitimate institution. 

So, the only solution here (say it with me) is to abolish this disordered institution, as well as the patronages associated with it. Consign it to the history books, replace the role of Monarch with a democratic Head of State, and turn Buckingham Palace into a museum. 

Not just any museum, though. Let Buckingham Palace stand as a museum that acts as a reminder of what happens when we allow historical privilege to have influence over the democratic system. 

And let Elizabeth Windsor be the last ever monarch of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

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