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In The News

God save the Queen?

The republican movement in Britain has proposed that when the current Queen shuffles off this mortal coil, a referendum should be held as to whether to veto the monarchy. Justine Brooks is on board, but Jen Offord remains loyal.

Official 1953 coronation portrait of Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh by Cecil Beaton.

Official 1953 coronation portrait of Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh by Cecil Beaton.

Justine Brooks says removing the royal family would be great for Britain.

I’ve never met a member of the royal family. And I’m sure they’re interesting, principled people with integrity (bar the occasional Fergie foot-licking, fake-sheikh-bribing faux pas, and she’s not a blood royal anyway…).

I don’t question the fact that we all get a huge amount of entertainment from watching them get married, have babies, free turtles into the ocean, wave at us while they go on foreign trips. In fact I’m sure they’re great. Really great.

It’s just that while they’re distracting us with their matchy-matchy outfits, self-imposed social status and general fabulousness, the royal family are in fact perpetuating the British class system, a pseudo-feudal medieval social system based on a foundation of hereditary power and ownership.

I just don’t like the fact that until the middle of the 20th century we were ‘subjects’, not citizens and that, even today, everything refers back up through this hierarchy – and sitting at the top is a family ordained by God or something.

So the Queen is not just ‘The Queen’, a sweet old lady who’s really good at waving from balconies, she’s our Head of State, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Governor of the Church of England, and head of the judiciary.

Monarchists argue that the Queen is merely a figurehead – but she has the power to declare war, dissolve parliament and sign treaties. Which in theory makes her the democratic equivalent of Genghis Khan. Well we know she’s alright, but we can only rely on her not to pass that power on to some relative who wasn’t so calm and measured.

Wouldn’t it be great if those roles could be democratically elected? There’s nothing to say that we couldn’t elect Elizabeth Windsor, and an elected head of state would certainly make our country stronger. Hell, we could even go on and have a proper written constitution.

Some people talk about how the royal family are good for tourism. I think those people have been brainwashed. Do they think that if we didn’t have a royal family people wouldn’t come here? Really? As if countries that don’t have royal families don’t get tourists. I’m sure France would disagree; as a republic they seem to do really well on the tourism front.

And really, outside the sale of trashy trinkets at London landmarks, do the royals really make us look good abroad? My guess is that they make us look like the class-obsessed nation of subjects that we really are.

@JustineFBrooks

Portrait of Charles I at his trial, by Edward Bower.

Charles I at his trial, by Edward Bower.

“Yay the Queen!” cheers Jen Offord.

My appreciation for the royal family dates back to 1649 (OK, 1999, which is when I started my history A-Level; clearly, I wasn’t alive in 1649) and the execution of Charles I.

It always seemed to me Charles I was wronged. He was an alright kind of guy, if you ask me/my history teacher at the time. Sure his dad, James I, was definitely a total douche – he frittered away the royal coin, kept banging on about being God’s chosen one and all that, fucked off Parliament by getting too big for his boots etc – but Charles was just a mild-mannered chap with a stutter, much like Colin Firth, sorry George VI. Also like George VI, he was never meant to be king, but his brother died, landing him with the frankly thankless task.

And to be fair, look at the alternative: Oliver Cromwell was a proper bastard – who are you going to back? The guy whose dad left him in a bit of a pickle or the dude who’s banned morris dancing because he thinks it’s too sexy?

Look, I agree with Cromwell on one thing: that the royals shouldn’t have any political power. But they don’t, not really.

When I say “thankless”, obviously you live quite well courtesy of the taxpayer if you are the Queen, but you do have to work for it. “But what kind of a job is going to hot places and waving?” I hear you whine.

The Queen greets NASA employees in 2007. Photo: NASA, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Queen greets NASA employees in 2007. Photo: NASA, via Wikimedia Commons.

Well, what kind of a job is sitting in your pyjamas writing about why waving is a job? I mean I get paid significantly less than the Queen, but I also don’t bring in nearly as much/any money to the economy as she does (and sorry but neither do you). What sort of a job is kicking a ball? Wayne Rooney earns a decent amount for that and he’s not even nearly as good at kicking a ball as the Queen is at waving.

And why would you want to do away with them now when they’re just getting interesting? What about this new breed of royal? The breed that damns the man and goes out with fit actresses and tells the tabloid press to go fuck itself?

What about William and Kate seeming like thoroughly nice humans and talking about important stuff like mental health issues and being sort of relatable to? What about all of them being sort of relatable to?

After all, they are basically the quintessentially dysfunctional British family, but unlike the rest of us, they have to do it under the glare of the red tops and The UKIPs, who apparently don’t even know what sovereignty means. Fuck, do any of us know what sovereignty means? All I know is I wouldn’t want to do it.

@inspireajen

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Written by Various Artists

Some of Standard Issue's brilliant women's carefully crafted words for your reading pleasure.