Socialist Worker

Queen Elizabeth pretends royals are a normal family

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2305

The current queen’s image has been a strange mix of pomp and domesticity throughout her reign.

Her televised coronation in 1953 received press adulation for recreating spectacle after the austerity of war.

While Elizabeth II’s reign has overseen the decline of empire, the first half took place in a period of boom.

The Queen’s third pregnancy in 1959, which produced Andrew, was generally believed to have been timed to assist a Tory election victory.

And monarchy is still a useful public relations stunt for British capitalism.

The use of royals on trade missions and as tourist attractions help maintain the image of Britain’s “natural” class system.

Monarchs have all been eccentric and right wing.

Elizabeth’s distinctive feature is to present the monarchy as if they’re just like ordinary people—only rich.

Each attempt has run the risk of making them too ordinary and so pointless, or too hypocritical.

The 1987 It’s a Royal Knockout (a sort of Total Wipeout with princes) was one high point.

The illusion began to crumble in the 1980s as the details of the royals’ state-funded luxury lifestyles were laid bare.

This fed into widespread anger at a time of recession and the Tories’ attacks on working people.

Then fairy tale royal weddings also fell apart in the 1990s.

After Princess Diana’s death, the tensions between being ordinary and being royal came to a head.

The PR people have tried hard to combine the “stable ordinary family with huge wealth” line once again. Despite the spin, the House of Windsor is in parasitic and opulent decline.


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