For a long time, the Militant Pine Marten has refrained from discussing the Monarchy, whether as a political institution, or with regards to the individuals that compose the current Royal Family. I’ve been happy to leave them alone, and they’ve presumably been quite happy being totally oblivious of this. There are two reasons for which I haven’t said anything on the topic. The first is that I’m not very interested, the second is that I’ve always considered that it didn’t really matter what we call a head of state who has been stripped of any real political power. There are moral arguments against having a hereditary head of state that are solid, but in terms of any real impact, it doesn’t matter if you call a powerless figurehead a queen, a Lord Protector or a president. The financial argument is to all intents and purposes nonsense. The Queen cost the UK government £36.6m in 2004-2005 which is approximately five minutes of government spending. Probably. Anyway, I don’t believe for one second that if they abolished the Monarchy, they wouldn’t squander the money immediately on some other ill-advised scheme. It’s a drop in the budgetary ocean. So I came to the conclusion some years ago that if people want a queen, they should have a queen, and if somehow that does create some sense of cultural identity, then so much the better. My God, I even said that to David Dimbleby on live television for the Golden Jubilee. I actually told the Masses that I was in favour of the Monarchy for reasons of cultural identity. I was going to develop the point but some loud Scottish girl who wanted to become famous by shouting on TV interrupted my flow (incidentally if you’re ever on some live TV “debate”, make sure beforehand that you can put your point across in four seconds or less, otherwise it won’t happen).
So why have I suddenly changed my little mustelid mind? Well in today’s Le Monde, I discovered something that just blew the seal that was keeping a lid on any hostile feelings I may have had against the Monarchy: every day, the Queen reads The Daily Mail. The Daily Mail, for God’s sake. I can understand that the Monarch is quite likely to hold quite conservative views. You can hardly expect Elisabeth II to be a member of the Socialist Worker’s Party, but then I also expect my heads of state to be a little more enlightened than the 25% of British voters who would consider voting for the BNP. I would at least expect Her Majesty to make an effort to compare and contrast a few different sources. In fact, I’m sure that there are a lot of civil servants whose job it is to make sure that she knows everything that she needs to know. But when left to her own devices, she obtains her news from The Daily Mail.
On the other hand, why should we expect even-handedness and a healthy appetite for a little regular intellectual curiosity from Mrs Windsor? If we take a step back from the current monarch for a second to take in the entire Saxe-Coburg-Gotha tribe, why on earth would we expect anything else? Because if you take away the carriages, the ermine lining, the clipped speech, the pomp and the circumstance, something very remarkable becomes apparent: the Royals are just a load of very rich and very posh chavs. They are in fact the poshest chavs in Britain, probably also Europe, arguably the world. You may think that this is an oxymoron, but it isn’t. Consider the following. The Queen does in fact read one other paper: The Racing Post. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just shows that one of her main preoccupations is really just the same as all the people who check their lottery numbers or football pools regularly.
The Queen and her ancestors for the past few generations have paid people to add to the Royal Collection on their behalf because essentially, they don’t know anything about art, and I suspect are very much of the school of thought that admits this but also insists that they know what they like. And what they like is having a great big art collection because that’s what people like them should do. For goodness’ sake, how nouveau riche is paying someone to demonstrate taste on your behalf? I don’t wish to sound snobbish, but then if you accuse me of snobbery for deriding the Windsors, you expose yourself to ridicule.
The Royal Collection may be the most onerous and flagrant demonstration of Royal chavery, but there are plenty of others. There’s the appalling schooling record of these people for a start. I’ll let Elisabeth off the hook on this one because in her day, well-brought up young ladies weren’t necessarily encouraged by their parents to become what they disparagingly called “blue stockings”, but the men have no excuse, particularly the little Waleses. Andrew had to switch courses from History of Art while at university. Harry at least had the honesty to admit that he was a bit of a donkey by joining the Army (incidentally I rather approve of this: it seems to me that the whole point of aristocracy originally was to selectively breed people to fight, and in the light of that, Harry may actually have made a sensible choice).
To summarise, the Royals are ignorant and vulgar and the Queen is open to the suggestion that Captain Euro will eat her corgis. Still, I’ve always considered that beyond the age of 80 years, people should be allowed to say whatever they like no matter how offensive or ridiculous. This pine marten certainly intends to be outrageously cantankerous and embarrassing in old age. With that in mind, and particularly because for her entire life the Queen has scrupulously avoided expressing an opinion on anything of any consequence, I would like to wish Her Majesty a very happy 80th birthday. And as of Friday morning, I want to hear regular outpourings of pent-up rightwing bile. Albeit beautifully pronounced.