The past few days have shown that the monarchy matters for Britain’s rulers. They see it as a useful way to push the idea of national unity.
The ruling class is hoping prince Philip’s death will be a distraction from the terrible toll of coronavirus deaths, widespread unemployment and cuts.
The media and the politicians alike prefer to pretend that everyone is taking part in shared sorrow.
After a royal death the media all race to produce special supplements and acres of coverage.
Suddenly billboards shift to being a celebration of the life of a racist parasite.
Even what passes for democracy was suspended. As an eight-day period of mourning was announced, political parties suspended campaigning for next month’s elections “out of respect”.
It’s not just the Tories who go along with all this. The Labour Party also refuses to question the monarchy.
Labour leader Keir Starmer left no sycophancy unused as he tweeted, “The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in prince Philip. Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country.”
He didn’t, and Starmer probably knows that. But these statements have allowed him to pass a crucial test for the ruling class. And signals he’s prepared to play along with their games.
Despite being used to attempt to unite the country the royal family is a fragile asset for those in power.
You wouldn’t know it from the coverage, but an opinion poll last October showed that only two thirds of people in Britain preferred a monarch to an elected head of state.
That means many millions of people don’t support the royals and have not taken part in mass mourning that the media and politicians expect from us.
That doesn’t mean those at the top will grudgingly accept an end to the royals.
Instead, they seek every opportunity to strengthen them.
Prince Philip’s death will be a chance for our rulers to reassert the royal myths.
When the Covid-19 pandemic reached Britain, queen Elizabeth urged us to “work as one” and prince Harry and Meghan Markle said, “we’re all in this together.” This is laughable when the royals can get helicopters to relocate them to the safety of Windsor Palace.
The royals also hold onto immense riches.
The queen has an estimated personal wealth of over £1.15 billion.
The royals are much more than just a harmless relic, they are a useful tool for the ruling class to justify their dominance.
Royals aren’t popular with everyone
The BBC and ITV’s viewing figures plummeted following a broadcast reschedule to feature back to back coverage of prince Philip’s death.
On Friday night ITV viewing figures dropped 60 percent and BBC 2’s figures by 64 percent.
The BBC received so many complaints it was forced to launch a dedicated web page to receive them all. The web page was subsequently pulled, restricting the number of complaints.
The broadcaster returned to regular programmes 24 hours after the announcement of Phillips’ death.
Despite extensive coverage, Channel 4 came under fire from the Murdoch press claiming they didn’t give enough air time to cover the death.
The media have pushed the idea that the royal family are something to be proud of as they bring us together. But this has been rejected by a significant amount of Britain’s population.
It appears that reality TV is more popular than the royals with TV commentary show, Gogglebox receiving 1.8 million more views than the BBC’s two-hour Philip documentary.
Many people do not go along with the fawning and imposition of what is supposed to be national mourning.
The UVW union that organises primarily low paid workers rightly said that when told prince Philip had died, the response from 90 percent of its members was “who’s that”?
The TUC union federation was wrong to tweet, “The UK’s trade union movement sends our condolences to the queen and the royal family on the death of the duke of Edinburgh.”
Many of its members don’t share that mood.
Whose deaths are marked?
The ceremony and commemoration for prince Philip contrasts sharply with the lack of serious commemoration of those who have died from the coronavirus.
The government figures say that 127,000 have died from Covid-19, although the real figure will probably be higher.
The pandemic’s victims were given a minute’s silence on the anniversary of lockdown this year.
Last year it took pressure from below to make the government support a minute’s silence to remember workers who had died from coronavirus. There won’t be special programmes or press coverage for the vast majority of those whose lives have been lost—many because of the failures of the Tories.
Looking back at the last year, there will be many people who think of the cover-ups, corruption and recklessness that contributed to the deaths of their family members and their friends.
And, they will rightly be sickened by the way that a racist like prince Philip is being celebrated and remembered.