Even for staunch conservatives, the validity of monarchy as an institution in modern Europe has been in sharp decline for some years. Devoid of power, lacking in influence and burning through public money, the Royal Families of Europe have essentially become dead wood, with their most praised virtue being that of attracting tourism and offering an excuse for a party on certain days of monarchic celebration. In terms of their actual pragmatic usefulness, Royals reserve their presence for signing laws and waving to crowds, both of which are formalities controlled by the politicians of the day.
Great Britain has often been seen as an exception to this general rule, with the longevity of Queen Elizabeth II providing a focal point for the nation. She is perhaps the last monarch to whom her subjects feel any sense of loyalty, who can still command the crowds and a Head of State with whom politicians still seek to curry favour. Yet we have to face the facts. Her Majesty’s reign is entering its twilight years and as her 92nd birthday approaches, the end of her reign surely draws closer and closer. As a public servant, she has been nothing short of exceptional for our great nation, conducting herself and her office with the utmost dignity throughout her 65-year reign. Her service to England and her other kingdoms can never be overstated, nor will it ever be forgotten.
However, those in line to succeed her can never expect to reach such dazzling heights, and their behaviour and choices at crucial times has brought the very institution itself into disrepute. The latest Royal Engagement between Prince Harry and his American bride-to-be Meghan Markle is just one of a number of questionable decisions made by junior members of the Royal Family, and further evidence that it can no longer serve the best interests of its subjects, the British people.
The next in line to the throne, after Her Majesty The Queen, is her son, Prince Charles. Once seen as a safe pair of hands and a wholesome family man, his widely suspected affairs, as well as those of his first wife Diana, all but destroyed his reputation. He then went on to not only re-marry after Diana’s death, but to marry a Catholic divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles. His accession to the throne would break a long-held English tradition of keeping the monarchy strictly in the hands of protestant rulers, something that has been the case since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when the widely unpopular Catholic King James II was disposed by William of Orange at the behest of parliament and the people. Predictably, it was a Liberal Democrat motion in parliament that led to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which overturned this centuries-old tradition of keeping the throne protestant.
But it is not only Prince Charles’ flagrant disregard of tradition that should disqualify him from the throne. His recent reputation as a political activist is threatening to infringe upon another key tradition of the Royal Family, that of political neutrality. He has become widely known for his incessant ramblings on climate change, which, given the present liberal hysteria over the issue, is implicitly political in nature. Prince William and his wife Katherine are seemingly following in the former’s father’s footsteps, as they too have become known for their frequent political interventions. One such incident saw the esteemed Prince make a speech littered with thinly veiled pro-EU sentiment on practically the eve of last year’s referendum on Britain’s continued membership.
And now we are presented with this latest Royal fiasco, that of Prince Harry’s engagement. Once described as the world’s most eligible bachelor, Harry could have settled down with any wholesome English girl of his choice, yet he has elected to marry an American divorcee and daughter of Hollywood, who, as it happens, is now rumoured to be Jewish. Whilst her African-American roots don’t disqualify her in principle, many Englishmen will find it difficult to relate to a couple who have firmly entrenched the Royal Family amongst the multicultural circles of the Islington Elite. Whilst the liberals of the chattering class will undoubtedly praise his choice of bride as “progressive” and “modern”, there will be many in more native circles feeling a deep sense of betrayal from an institution that we widely hoped to remain conservative (small-c) and British.
We are now faced with the prospect of a new generation of Royals who are found to be wholly opposed to the traditional values that have supported middle England for centuries. The closest cultural relation to this new breed can be found in the traditionally republican corridors of the London liberal elite, whilst the common man who’s support for the Monarchy has been unwavering is now entirely alienated from it. The next generation of monarchs have no prospect of ever being representative of the English and British societies that they profess to be able to lead, which just serves to highlight the deep flaw in hereditary privilege; it’s all well and good until the ruling dynasty begins to act in a way in which we dislike.
In centuries of old, the English people or parliament would have taken up arms and forced the dethronement of a Royal Family that no longer represents them, as they did with James II in the 1680’s. Now that we live in more enlightened times, we are best served in turning our backs on the institution when Queen Elizabeth II’s reign eventually comes to an end. This is not to spit on tradition, nor is it a mark of disloyalty or disrespect. But keeping tradition for the sake of tradition, even when it begins to act against the interests of the people, is a mark of sentiment and stupidity most often found amongst the losing side.