Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2807

God save us from this has been queen

That we’re already being inundated with royalist propaganda is not a sign of the strength of the monarchy, but of its weakness. Simon Basketter and Sophie Squire look beyond the pomp at an ailing industry in crisis
Issue 2807

Prepare to be sickened by mainstream ­pundits ­fawning over Queen Elizabeth II as she ­prepares to celebrate 70 years on the “job.” They’ll probably use words like “stoic” and phrases like “dedicated to a life of duty.” 

But there are much better words to describe her—“scrounger” and “parasite” come to mind. The only thing Elizabeth II has ever been dedicated to is serving her class. She was born into scrounging on 21 April 1926. There seemed little chance that Elizabeth would be Queen, as she was third in line behind her father’s older brother and her father. 

But this all changed when her uncle, King Edward VIII, a Nazi sympathiser, abdicated and married Wallis Simpson—another Nazi sympathiser. While many a rich scrounger liked the Nazis in the 1930s, Edward and Simpson put their enthusiasm against the interests of the bosses who ran the British Empire and had to go.

But associating or even dressing up as a Nazi for the Windsors isn’t much of an issue. And fascist salutes aren’t much of an issue either. When footage of a young Elizabeth II and her family doing Nazi salutes was released, the palace could only cry that their personal footage had been “exploited.” 

Throughout her time in power, the Queen has been used as a voice box for right wing policy and as a tool to crush dissent. During her time as a princess, she was even a pawn in a plot to try and crush rising Welsh nationalism.

She was made patron of the Welsh League of Youth—Urdd Gobaith Cymru—which the establishment believed would be of “great value in improving the relations between the two countries permanently.” 

On a trip to Kenya in 1952, Elizabeth found out that King George VI was dead and was handed the title of Queen. In the same year, British colonial forces were brought in to crush the Mau Mau rebellion. A reign of terror followed, resulting in the brutal murder and torture of tens of thousands of Africans. 

After Kenya finally won its ­independence, the Queen wrote to the former president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, in 1963. She said, “I pray that with God’s guidance, Kenya may prosper and that her people may enjoy peace and ­contentment in full measure.” These warm words seem especially empty when Britain only apologised for the atrocities it committed in the Mau Mau rebellion in 2013. 

Across the globe, Britain’s once vast empire was crumbling as Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. Former colonial states were fighting and winning independence, and so to cling on, the British ruling class had formed the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth website describes the grouping as a “family of nations”. But, in reality, Britain has continually gained more from this arrangement. In 1953 the Queen described the Commonwealth as bearing “no resemblance to the empires of the past. It is an entirely new conception—built on the higher qualities of the spirit of man— friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace.” 

The Commonwealth became useful after the Second World War when Britain suffered a labour ­shortage. It led the Windrush generation to travel across to the sea to fill in the gaps. It was also an attempt to erase the brutal legacy of the empire and try to create a false sense of unity between former colonies, the monarchy and the “motherland.”

With the once vast British Empire ­disintegrating at the Queen’s feet even before her coronation, avoiding dissent at home was another priority of the ruling class. 

At the time of the coronation only eight years had passed since the end of Second World War, and Britain was bankrupt. Major cities still remained in ruins, and certain food items were still rationed. With Britain in the grip of austerity, the ruling class thought a coronation was an excellent opportunity to ramp up nationalist feeling and create a false sense of shared unity. 

No expense was spared on the big day, with the lavish ceremony estimated to have cost around £1.57 million in 1953, which is almost £47 million in today’s money. After the coronation, the elites headed off to Buckingham Palace, where they gorged themselves on coronation chicken canapés, shellfish mousse and tortoise soup. For millions of ordinary people who had lost loved ones during the war and were now living in desperate poverty, the day’s excesses must have felt like a slap in the face. 

After her marriage to racist, sexist and now thankfully dead Prince Phillip, the Queen popped out Prince Charles in November 1948. She then went on to have Princess Anne in 1950. 

Almost ten years later, to more than likely sway an election in the Tories’ favour, she gave birth to her ­favourite child and alleged paedophile, Prince Andrew. In 1964 she had Prince Edward. 

Scandal has plagued the Queen’s ­children, from messy divorces and racist comments to a well-documented friendship with millionaire child rapist Jeffrey Epstein

But for all their scumminess they have been awarded a life of luxury. Every lavish wedding of the Queen’s children or grandchildren has always led to a bill of tens of millions of pounds. Charles and Diana’s wedding alone cost the taxpayer over £80 million in today’s money. 

The royal family owns 20 properties, ranging from the 1,000 room Windsor Castle to the more modest 20 room Kensington Palace. And until the late 1960s, “coloured immigrants or foreigners” were barred from taking up clerical jobs in the ­various royal households.  To this day a clause is still in place that allows Buckingham Palace to ignore race and sex discrimination laws. 

Those in power would like us to believe that the Queen has been met with love and adoration wherever she goes. This is simply not true. In reality, the Queen and her offspring have been met with boos, rocks and sometimes even assassination attempts. When the mass graves of indigenous children were discovered in Canada last year, protesters tore down her statue.  In Britain and worldwide, millions of ordinary people won’t celebrate 70 years of the Queen’s reign but ­remember a legacy of racism, colonialism and inequality.

There’s still no future in England’s dreaming

That the Jubilee celebrations come 69 years after the coronation and five months after the anniversary of when the queen became the queen is as rational as the rest of the monarchy.

Few people believe God chose the monarch, and not that many care about the church she leads. Few really buy into the myth of her being the nation’s guardian. Regardless of the wall to wall simpering the media are doing for the Jubilee.

But that is real gold on those horse drawn carriages and jewelled crowns come encrusted with the real blood of empire. The government is Her Majesty’s Government, the monarch appoints the prime minister and the armed forces swear allegiance to the monarch not the government or the people. 

It is presented as a soap opera. But since Netflix has The Crown, the idea of royalty as heritage TV drama doesn’t explain their continued existence.

There is a hundred year effort to uphold the popularity of the royal family to legitimise Britain’s class structure. Its height was Queen Victoria providing a bulwark of reaction against radical change while enabling imperialist expansion and capitalist robbery.

Victoria was the Queen of Empire, Elizabeth is the queen of its decline.

Victoria was given the title “Empress of India”.  Elizabeth came in with the invention of coronation chicken.

The decline is more than symbolic. When she began her reign, Britain had more than 70 territories overseas. Now Elizabeth is the monarch of 15 countries known as commonwealth realms. She lost Barbados as recently as last year.

The use of royals on trade missions in pith helmets helps maintain the image that Britain’s rulers want. Many arms sales have been greased with a royal handshake. But the positives get fewer by the year.

Elizabeth’s distinctive feature was to present the royals as being just like ordinary people. Previous attempts to not seem detached were usually met with contempt and occasional stone throwing. But this time they stuck with the homely royal shtick. 

This ran the risk of making them too ordinary and so pointless, or too hypocritical. The risk grew as time went on.

After Princess Diana’s death, tensions between being ordinary and being royal came to a head. The perceived feeling that the royals had it in for her because she wasn’t posh enough hit the monarchy. Though overall sympathy for Diana actually helped the royals’ popularity. 

So today Meghan and the former Nazi cosplayer Harry getting away from racist relatives builds both sympathy for some royals and contempt for others.

The monarchy is in parasitic, opulent and very slow decline. The circular game of relying on and denouncing, and being denounced, by the media is part of this.

In 1969, 18 percent wanted to abolish the monarchy. The Silver Jubilee, Diana and the Golden Jubilee all came and went without really altering that figure.  It reached a peak of 24 percent in a survey of May last year. 

The age group that prefer an elected head of state to a monarch by 41 percent to 31 percent are 18 to 24 year olds. Elizabeth’s very longevity means that there will be a crisis when she dies. They have survived scandals before and because they are more than a soap opera they will not simply disappear.

During barbarism stability can be attractive, not just to bosses but to workers too. The idea that the royal family is above politics can be used to unify people around the interests of our rulers.

The more people revere their supposed betters, the less likely they are to take action against the unfair and unequal society they live in. The reverse is also true, and that’s why getting rid of the monarchy is both necessary and possible.

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