Technically, I cannot really endorse the Royal Family. However, this is not because I a radical Republican and radical democrat. Far from it!
The trouble is that in my admittedly somewhat eccentric World view, they are not really “Royal” at all. You see, as far as I am concerned the last legitimate king of England (and Overlord of most of Wales) was Harold Godwinson (Harold Gōdwines sunu) who lost his life on 14th October 1066 defending this fair realm from the cruel, tyrannical William the Bastard and his Normans, ruthless and humourless Nazi prototypes who snuffed out much of the rich and artistic Anglo-Danish culture of the island.
It is true that the Godwine clan were not altogether paragons of virtue. There was a fair bit of murder, eyes being gouged out, nun raping (that was quite a scandal, almost bigger than phone hacking in its day) and general chicanery carried on by Harold’s father, Old Man Godwine (the Earl of Wessex), and Harold’s younger brothers. But Harold himself seems a decent cove, and a bloody good warrior too. He was endorsed by the Witan (Counsel of Wise Men) so there was actually a bit of democracy going on. OK, not perfect but better than under what followed for a long, long time. And if his stupid, greedy and feckless little brother Tostig had not tried to betray him and thrown in his lot with the Danes (causing Harold to have to fight two battles in less than three weeks) he would have won at Hastings and we would all be talking like the Swedish chef from the Muppets.
Anyway, since then there has been a motley collection of usurpers, carpet baggers, puppets, the occasional hero and super villain, and even some utterly mad Germans (not just the present lot).
Apparently, one monarch was an orange. How does that work?
In fact, my attitude to the Jubilee can be summed up by a brief anecdote. Someone spoke to me last Thursday about wanting to come and see me about a spot of business. They wanted to come and see me next Wednesday. As it happened I was already booked in for a meeting elsewhere, so I suggested we meet on Tuesday instead. A blank look ensued. That is a Bank Holiday, they told me. The extra one.
Oh really? Yes, something to do with the Diamond Jubilee. It had not really registered. I understand there are some celebrations going on, somewhere. I was not really aware of any of that. [Ed: You’re not the only one]
Now don’t get me wrong, I am quite impressed by “Brenda”. Doing what she has done, sitting there at the endless dinners, the droning speeches, the humdrum, banal garden parties, making small talk with the great and the good and idiots and the sycophants, the dictators and murderers with whom we have to do business, and putting up with the (is it weekly?) audiences with the retarded, greasy-pole-climbing talking monkeys who (with a few honourable exceptions) pass for Prime Ministers. That can’t have been easy. It has its perks, I can see that, but I can imagine a lifetime of never being able to kick loose, living in a gilded cage, has its downsides too. Imagine having to actually meet Gordon Brown and be civil. It makes me shiver.
I am a bit indifferent to the big event. It’s just that in my world what matters is the bills at the end of the month, getting enough work in, the relentless grind at chipping away at the colossal debts my now ex-wife left me with, and trying not to be sent to prison by the tax man. That is the real world of many of the self employed who plod on, day in, day with no prospect of an index liked, final salary scheme. Weekends and Bank Holidays don’t really count for people like me; if the work is there to be done, you do it. Doesn’t matter what day it is. If it isn’t there, you are in trouble. Either way, it’s not that easy.
But I digress…
I suppose I shall raise a glass to “Brenda” and watch people marching about and so forth. It’s not her fault her family are German imports. And what of these people who moan about the cost?
Curiously, even in these cash strapped days, I don’t mind. Compared to the shameful hubris surrounding the Olympics, the industrialised incompetence of most central and local government procurement, or the scandals that are the deficit and government borrowing or MP’s expenses, it is a small price for a bit of pageantry, a bit of style and a bit of panache. Britain does it so well. Better than anyone else. It is part of our national fabric. Or rather, these days, the national fabric of some of us.
And Her Majesty has done that greatest and most selfless of jobs. In an age of “personalities” (definition: a person with no visible talent or personality at all ) she has remained an impersonal symbol, above the political, a living link to the public and private history of a nation, a tribe, a people. That demands skill, discipline and watchfulness.
Of course, logically Monarch cannot be justified, can it? How can a mere accident of birth grant status, great wealth, and privilege? Perhaps because it works. It just does, and like an old car or trustee vacuum cleaner that just keeps rattling along, the worst thing one can do is try to fix it. It is a system which although bizarre, is the least worst. It keeps us in touch with our history and past, and most importantly it keeps THEM away from yet more status and away from the pinnacle of the constitution and power.
Yes, THEM. Go for an elected Head of State (or more likely in my view, one appointed from within the ranks of the so called “Great and the Good”), what would we get? Some shifty retired career politico, ever greedy for yet more freeloading, venality and consumption and utterly hostile to the traditions and freedoms of the Land? Some token – ist playing the Establishment game? Or even worse and increasingly likely, some facile minded Luvvie who despises everything about the history and culture of the country that raised and fed it?
Just to illustrate my point, consider the following appalling possibilities:
President George Michael
President Sayeeda Warsi
President Stephen Bercow
President Stephen Fry
President Suzi Leather
President John Prescott
President Cherie Blair (2 terms, refuses to leave even then, and all the silver goes missing and turns up at Cash Converter)
President José Manuel Barroso
President Ken Livingstone
President Manzila Uddin
President Harriet Harman
President Keith Vaz
President Simon Cowell
I suppose to be even handed, I could almost see the potential in a President Boris (fun and games at the Palace there!), a President David Beckham or a President Helen Mirren. The last one is a bit debatable because she is a Luvvie, but she did such a good job playing the Queen, maybe she could reprise the role for real?
But on reflection, no. Her Majesty has sailed a pretty steady ship on the whole. At the price of producing a largely dysfunctional family, and with the odd wobble along the way as the Family Firm confronted the celebrity fixated culture of modern Britain after the death of Diana.
And luck has stepped in in the form of William and Kate, and there is the prospect of a new and re-invented, stylish Monarchy which remains the emblem of impartiality, the link to the collective heritage of many (but by no means all) of the inhabitants of this Isle, and is impossibly glamorous.
All free from the taint of the second rate, the partial, the self aggrandising and the temporary.
So well done, Ma’am. I won’t be celebrating much, but better you than anyone else. A grudging Huzzah! You have done a lot better than the politicians that served you and us, in my book. Now back to work for me.