Recently, it seems that millions of people were engrossed in the watching of a new television reality show, but really the idea was nothing new. Apparently, it’s been done before. It was a wedding between an English fellow and some American actress, and the powers that be deemed it necessary that the entire world should be able to witness the event. No doubt, someone made a lot of money out of it.
However, it made me wonder why other weddings don’t attract the same amount of attention. What is so special about these people? Are they more important and worthwhile than you and me? Have they made some remarkable contribution to world peace, to the eradication of famine in third world countries or some stupendous breakthrough in medical research? Does their excrement smell of roses?
Or could the attraction simply lie in the fact that other weddings don’t cost such an incredible amount of money, using gold inlaid coaches, and festooned footmen, and dozens of soldiers riding horses, and religious people dressed to the nines in clothes which probably cost an amount equivalent to a factory worker’s annual wage?
Or is it because the groom’s grandmother, or some other relative, has performed some spectacular public service by sitting on a special sort of chair for a very long time?
Anyway, I missed the show, but I hope they had a nice day for it. My wedding day was one of the best days of my life.
Hopefully, the horses didn’t shit on anybody special.
I probably should have asked if royals were relevant in Australia, because I don’t give a stuff about what other countries do with their particular groups of parasites, but I liked the alliteration in the title. (Yes, you’re right – it’s a wank.)
To be fair – a tough job for me where this subject is concerned – I think we ought to look at some global statistics which might place the issue in a clearer context.
A Washington Post article published on July 22, 2013, reported that the world was home to 26 monarchies. That number may have changed since that time but, as an indicator, it’s significant.
There are between 190 and 200 countries sharing the planet. Of these about 120 are considered to be democracies, some of which retain their royals, which leaves about 50 that are dictatorships, located primarily in Africa and Asia, and assorted oligarchies, autocracies and so on. In some of these dictatorships it is members of a royal family who play the role of dictator.
If my maths is correct, monarchies exist in about 13% of the world’s countries. That’s quite a small percentage and I’m compelled to ask why, if monarchies are so good to have, why doesn’t every country have one?
My answer to my own question is simply this: Many countries that were ruled by monarchies overthrew them and those “royals” that remain are an archaic relic of an often deplorable past.
Those countries who have retained royals may have done so for any of a number of reasons, including:
- The monarchy is perpetuated through force of arms. Resistance to the will of the ruler is militarily crushed. Note here the similarity to an autocracy or dictatorship.
- The monarchy is largely ignored by the populace, regarded as something of an oddity. An apathetic populace just doesn’t care enough to complain about the fact that a privileged family is supported in luxury by public money, whilst members of the same society are homeless and starving.
- The monarchy provides some sort of cultural link to a “glorious” and often imperialist past, and allows the populace to bask in reflected, if ancient and faded, glory. Perhaps, through some obscure process of “reverse justification”, these people derive a perverse feeling of superiority because, once upon a time, their particular royal family “ruled the world”.
- The trappings and ceremonies attached to the monarchy provide an economic benefit to the country, chiefly by attracting overseas visitors who have an interest in history or who are keen to see what all the fuss is about.
- Sufficient numbers of the populace have such a need to feel subservient that they not only endure the pomposity, but actively support and defend it.
- The vast majority of the populace is so engrossed in surviving in their present society that they have neither the time, the energy, nor the inclination to make social change.
A discerning reader will already have identified my standpoint in relation to “royals”.
Whilst acknowledging that, at some time in the distant past, royal families may have served a useful and even productive purpose, they have been an anachronistic absurdity since the growth of democracies and the increased power of the individual to positively affect her/his world.
This view is supported by the fact that, in the majority of cases, contemporary “royals” serve little other than decorative or ceremonial functions.
In almost all constitutional monarchies, the royals have no real power to affect the process of government and serve as nothing more than figureheads.
My motives in pursuing this question are transparent and my agenda is easily identified. I deplore imperialism, overt and covert, historical and contemporary and, as an Australian, I am incensed by the fact our nation has been forced by a succession of cowardly governments, to retain close ties to one of the many diabolical imperialist regimes that the world has had the great misfortune to endure.
I am a, perhaps fanatical, believer in the idea that, if we are to create a better world we must, at least, identify the icons which glorify the errors of the past and remove those images from our immediate presence lest, by retaining those icons, we appear to give tacit support to the actions of those who perpetrated the errors.
With the fall of the Soviet Empire and the re-integration of Germany, would it have been appropriate to allow the Berlin Wall to stand?
I certainly do not suggest that we should ignore or forget the terrible things done to humanity by inhuman rulers, but rather that we remove the daily reminders of the existence and actions of those rulers.
In response to my criticism, in another forum, of the extreme anti-social actions taken by England’s rulers, in their drive to expand the British Empire – we’re talking about rape, murder, slavery, drug running – an Anglo-Australian explained to me that such actions were acceptable behaviour for the period in which those action occurred. He agreed that, in retrospect, those actions were morally depraved and should never have occurred, but their “wrongness” only exists in a modern social context.
I’ve seldom heard such unadulterated bullshit from someone who was not a politician. Surely, the essence of humanity has always encompassed the existence of a conscience, an understanding of right and wrong, no matter how primitive.
Did Caveman kill his neighbour? You bet, but I’m confident that he did so in response to a threat, not simply because he could. Did he steal from others? Of course he did. If I were starving, and stealing could prevent me from doing so, I’d steal food in the blink of an eye. However, I’m doubtful that Caveman would have been too keen to kill off his neighbour just so that he could have an extra cave.
I’m confident that the changing social mores of the hundreds of centuries leading up to this one, included at least a modicum of respect held by most people for their fellow humans. The wanton exercise of power over others, such as was used in the expansion of empires, including the British Empire, would not have been common or acceptable behaviour for the majority of people.
While Australia is subject to interference by the English monarch, and while our flag is dominated by the English flag, we mark ourselves as supporters of the English monarchy, past and present, and as supportive of the foul behaviours which were used to annexe this island as part of the British Empire.
My Anglo-Australian correspondent went on to claim that, as part of the British Empire, Australia was blessed to receive two of the greatest gifts the English could bestow upon us – The Winchester system of government and the British judicial system.
My observations of our society over the last six decades, lead me to suggest that neither of these “gifts” has proven to be a boon, and that, without the enforced existence of these allegedly priceless endowments, the people of this country might well have produced infinitely more suitable social systems.
I had hoped that following the debacle of the 1975 dismissal of the elected Australian Prime Minster, Gough Whitlam, by Queen Elizabeth’s un-elected representative in Australia, Australians would rise en-masse and demand to be free of foreign interference, primarily British and American, in our nation’s affairs.
Sadly, my hopes were dashed as, perhaps due to overwhelming apathy or some desire to hang on to their “Britishness”, a majority of my countrymen seemingly elected to take no action. Malcolm Turnbull, once a staunch advocate of republicanism, which stance gave him a significant lift in his political standing, has done bugger-all as Prime Minister to pursue the issue further.
At this time we are stuck with an absentee queen who lives in luxury twenty thousand kilometres away, whilst many of her Australian subjects live in poverty.
She does visit us occasionally, along with her entourage, as long as Australian dollars pay the bills, and sometimes she sends the kids on a “working holiday” to fly the (British) flag. Liz’s 2011 visit cost us about $1.74 million. I can’t determine what it was that we gained from her visit, but I’m sure that the money which paid for it might have been better spent elsewhere.
We also have the privilege of flying a flag that epitomises all things British – including their attempt to dominate and subjugate as much as possible of the known world – and brings daily reminders to indigenous Australians of the English invasion and subsequent attempted genocide of their people.
I’ve constructed my personal balance sheet with regard to our royalty. Try as I might, I can find not a single item to include on the plus side of the ledger. Wait – rewind – there are some plusses:
- They don’t live in Australia.
- They serve as a constant reminder of the evils of elitism and the injustice of the class system.
- They prove that, even if you are born as a superior being, you can still be a total arsehole.
The negatives are no more prolific, but are more significant:
- No matter where they are born, or what wondrous qualities are attributed to them by some, they are just human beings with no particular talents or skills that enable them to contribute, any more than those of the average person, to creating a better world. In fact, it’s likely that a number of Liz’s predecessors were mentally disturbed and a danger to themselves and others.
- With respect to Australia, whilst they have a significant place in our short history, they produce nothing other than expenses.
- They serve as a constant reminder of the fact that, as a nation, we still lack the courage to assert our independence.
- They provide a source of on-going, and sometimes very painful irritation to this island’s first inhabitants, the people whom the royal’s antecedents tried and failed to exterminate.
To those who claim that royals are really relevant in a contemporary Australian society, I simply say “pig’s arse!”