Monarchy, you see, is a hereditary disease that can only be cured by fresh outbreaks of itself
April 19, 2011 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Christopher Hitchens rails against monarchy and the Royal wedding.
posted by beisny (283 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, come on, Hitch, it's neccessary for the chain of inbred barbarians to continue, dammit.
posted by jonmc at 3:36 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fuck the royal wedding, and all who foist it upon us.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on April 19, 2011 [15 favorites]


Yeah? Well, Lance Mannion thinks they're boring but part of the English national character.
...but the fact of them matters to me or, rather, to my overall sense of what England is and is like as much as it matters that it’s the country that produced Shakespeare, Dickens, Magna Carta, Winnie the Pooh, and fish and chips. Abolishing the monarchy would be like demolishing Big Ben and bulldozing Stonehenge. It would be like tearing a piece of England’s heart out.
Any other white guys want to weigh in?
posted by muddgirl at 3:41 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Royal wedding: police consider pre-emptive arrests - I have no adequate words for the horrible bullshit that this is.
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Artw: I have no adequate words for the horrible bullshit that this is.

I feel the same way about this.
posted by gman at 3:48 PM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Christopher Hitchens rails against monarchy and the Royal wedding.

...and his Dad.

Seriously, man... you can't afford a therapist?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:48 PM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


what for, he has a bartender.
posted by jonmc at 3:49 PM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


If the UK abolished the monarchy they'd still have all of the history associated with it. To suggest that the national character depends on one particular family is just insulting to contributions of hundreds of millions of citizens subjects who actually built the country.

And if they were gone we'd also still have all the lovely buildings, with the added bonus that tourists could view them 365 days of the year instead of just when the Queen is on holiday.
posted by rh at 3:51 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I feel the same way about this.

Papa John's? At least they didn't ruin a good pizza.
posted by theodolite at 3:51 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mannion has a point - in an increasingly globalized, standardized, trans-national world, countries have to cling to whatever they can to maintain some sort of national character beyond simply being another set of arbitrary and inconvenient rules & regulations.

Also, Artw: "Police cannot rule out pre-emptive strikes against anarchists plotting to disrupt the royal wedding, Scotland Yard has said."

Cripes. I mean, does no one read anymore? Fiction is truth, Truth is Fiction, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 3:51 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Didn't we fight a fucking war to be free of these fuckos?
posted by jonmc at 3:52 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the UK abolished the monarchy they'd still have all of the history associated with it.

The trouble with history is that the supply is ever-increasing and frankly the demand is dropping so history is getting less valuable over time.
posted by GuyZero at 3:52 PM on April 19, 2011 [15 favorites]


Didn't we fight a fucking war to be free of these fuckos?

That depends on what you mean by "we." Yes, the United States fought a war and is, consequently, free of them.
posted by The World Famous at 3:53 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


We did too, beheaded one of the fuckers. Didn't go so well after that.
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on April 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


Royalty was like dandelions. No matter how many heads you chopped off, the roots were still there underground, waiting to spring up again.

It seemed to be a chronic disease. It was as if even the most intelligent person had this little blank spot in their heads where someone had written, “Kings. What a good idea.” Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.
Commander Vimes
posted by kmz at 3:58 PM on April 19, 2011 [33 favorites]


As a Canadian, I'm in favor of the royal family, largely because abolishing it would require amending the constitution in order to move to a republican system, and that would mean *years* of interminable wrangling, and would probably manage to kick off another secessionist movement.

Which, at the bottom of it is probably why they're sticking around in the UK, sheer inertia and lack of desire to fiddle with a system that seems to work alright. It's also why Charles will never become king, his mug on the money might actually prompt people to start asking questions about the institution. Probably why William is marrying Kate Middleton in all honesty. Get a relatively young and popular prince on the throne with a pretty wife before he looses all his hair and it all goes pear shaped.
posted by Grimgrin at 3:59 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hell, never mind Hitch: I rail against it. The monarchy is the biggest national embarrassment the UK has. Even bigger than Simon Cowell. I'm against killing and the death penalty but I'd honestly like to see these horrible fucking parasites presented with the choice of standing down or being strung up. I'm not joking. There's absolutely no excuse for this retrograde bullshit.
posted by Decani at 3:59 PM on April 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


> "Okay, let's cut a deal here. If Britain can afford to spend tens of millions of pounds on the royal wedding..."

What? On top of everything else, ordinary Britons have to foot the bill for this stupid wedding?
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:59 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel the same way about this.

I'm less offended by this latest attempt to cross-promote frisbee-shaped, salt-cured fecal matter than by the failure of the Federal Trade Commission to secure an injunction preventing Papa John's from continuing to market its products as "pizza".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:00 PM on April 19, 2011


Didn't we fight a fucking war to be free of these fuckos?
posted by jonmc at 11:52 PM on April 19


You sure did. And now you have Sarah Palin, Oprah and Charlie Sheen. Congratulations!
posted by Decani at 4:01 PM on April 19, 2011 [21 favorites]


What? On top of everything else, ordinary Britons have to foot the bill for this stupid wedding?

Seriously, how is it that they can't make the thing profitable?
posted by The World Famous at 4:02 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


kmz: Not only is that an excellent bit of foreshadowing, it's an argument for the current monarchy in an odd way. You could think of the constitutionally neutered monarchy as being like a vaccine, against the more virulent, mutated forms of authoritarianism still extant in the world.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:03 PM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


You sure did. And now you have Sarah Palin, Oprah and Charlie Sheen. Congratulations!

We also have White Castle, Bruce Springsteen and straight teeth.
posted by jonmc at 4:04 PM on April 19, 2011 [24 favorites]


We also have White Castle, Bruce Springsteen and straight teeth.

And straight teeth are good, right?
posted by The World Famous at 4:05 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


We also have White Castle, Bruce Springsteen and straight teeth.

I dunno, I've been to Appalachia. Didn't see that there.
posted by GuyZero at 4:07 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


tl,dr; English dude not invited to wedding, rants about it.
posted by nutate at 4:07 PM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Prompted by some inane FM radio chatter during my commute to work this morning, I opened MeFi wondering if someone was going to do a post on the wedding. I am glad this is that post.
posted by vidur at 4:08 PM on April 19, 2011


Thanks for that, as a subject of the Queen who has disdain not only for the institution but for the vast majority of the horse-faced inbred fuckers that call themselves the House of Windsor, he echoes what I think rather well.
posted by ob at 4:08 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


and straight teeth.

Let me nip this one in the bud.

N H S
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 4:10 PM on April 19, 2011 [25 favorites]


What I don't get is how there's this real or media produced level of excitement around this wedding in the United States. As jonmc so eloquently put it, we fought a war to be free of those fuckos.

I really don't understand how monarchy is still around in the 21st century anywhere.
posted by birdherder at 4:11 PM on April 19, 2011


Love Hitchens. Dislike the monarchy and the Aussies who fawn over it. Dislike being a subject of the Queen. A linguistic question:
The mother had been an air hostess or something with an unfashionable airline, and the family had been overheard using lethally wrong expressions, such as serviette for napkin

Americans say 'napkin'. Aussies say 'serviette'. Both countries presumably of lower class than Britain. Why do they prefer 'napkin'?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:11 PM on April 19, 2011


I dunno, I've been to Appalachia. Didn't see that there.

Those people are all of British descent.
posted by riruro at 4:12 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I dunno, I've been to Appalachia. Didn't see that there.

I'm not sure drawing a comparison between Britain and Appalachia is the greatest retort, GuyZero.
posted by The World Famous at 4:12 PM on April 19, 2011


Those people are all of British descent.

Scottish and Welsh, actually.
posted by jonmc at 4:13 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Springsteen and Dylan justify America, though I wish it had some of Britian's class.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:13 PM on April 19, 2011


Heh. I remarked last night, after seeing some breathless Beeb America teasers, that all my British friends have been tweeting things like, "No, seriously, no one in England gives a fuck about the wedding, despite the media," for the last week or so.
posted by klangklangston at 4:13 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


We also have White Castle, Bruce Springsteen and straight teeth.
posted by jonmc at 12:04 AM on April 20


Only one of which is any use at all. And let's face it: he hasn't been for about thirty years.
posted by Decani at 4:13 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Americans say 'napkin'. Aussies say 'serviette'. Both countries presumably of lower class than Britain. Why do they prefer 'napkin'?

Sounds too French.
posted by birdherder at 4:14 PM on April 19, 2011


Didn't we fight a fucking war to be free of these fuckos?

Didn't work, apparently. A few years back, right after Queen Elizabeth visited the US, my aunt stayed in a hotel the royal party was supposed to have graced with it's presence. The concierge told her about the elaborate set of rules the hotel had to agree to: nobody was allowed to look HRH in the eye or address her directly, the lobby had to be full of blue hydrangeas, and so on. As far as I know, there was no provision for removing all the green M&Ms from the dressing room, but I wouldn't be surprised. I thought it was fairly shocking that a hotel in the state that gave us Jefferson and Madison would agree to tug the forelock like that; but they did. And then inbred fuckers didn't even stay there.

Also: if they're supposed to represent the national character of England, then how come they're German?
posted by steambadger at 4:15 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Americans say 'napkin'. Aussies say 'serviette'. Both countries presumably of lower class than Britain. Why do they prefer 'napkin'?

I was under the impression that 'napkin' can refer to cloth or paper napkins, but 'serviette' pretty much exclusively refers to paper napkins. So if you're having a nice dining experience, and refer to the cloth white thing as a 'serviette'...?
posted by supercrayon at 4:15 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Americans say 'napkin'. Aussies say 'serviette'. Both countries presumably of lower class than Britain.

Er.. you what?
posted by Put the kettle on at 4:16 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as I know, there was no provision for removing all the green M&Ms from the dressing room, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Why green? Does it make her think of the Irish?
posted by jonmc at 4:16 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't for the life of me really believe that Hitch cares about this, or that nearly anyone on MeFi does either.
posted by hermitosis at 4:17 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lavatory is a hyper-correction. Loo is the word you want.

I'm leaving the country until it's all over.
posted by tigrefacile at 4:17 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Bugle makes a good argument that commemorative Royal Wedding souvenirs are going to save the British economy.
posted by Beardman at 4:18 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't for the life of me really believe that Hitch cares about this, or that nearly anyone on MeFi does either.
posted by hermitosis at 12:17 AM on April 20


I'm a Brit. I pay for these fucking parasitical, unjustifiably privileged cunts. Damned right I care about it. I want them gone. I don't care how they go, either.
posted by Decani at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


We also have White Castle, Bruce Springsteen and straight teeth.

I dunno, I've been to Appalachia. Didn't see that there.


They don't have Bruce Springsteen in Appalachia?
posted by steambadger at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


birdherder: Unlike courgette, aubergine and bureau de change?
posted by inmediasres at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2011


I don't know, at least you get something for your money (tourism, etc). In America we give away a ton of taxpayer money to rich people who don't even have to show up in public and wave.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:20 PM on April 19, 2011 [33 favorites]


"Hell, never mind Hitch: I rail against it. The monarchy is the biggest national embarrassment the UK has."

But ... but ... if you got rid of the monarchy, we Americans couldn't enjoy all the pageantry and tabloid madness of royalty in a language we can understand, while still feeling somewhere between smug and relieved that we threw off those shackles a couple of centuries ago!

All the gawking benefits, none of the expensive downsides!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:21 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Two important facts I gleaned about Prince William when I was in his year at St Andrews:

-- He captained the water polo team, but wasn't very good at it.
-- He borrowed some plastic cups once from the student union for a party, but didn't return them

I'm not in favour of the monarchy.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 4:22 PM on April 19, 2011 [20 favorites]


"vapid disco-princesses."
posted by clavdivs at 4:23 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is how I feel about the British Royals.

While society metaphorically plants their lips on their privileged royal asses, I would be happy to show my respect by giving 'em a big hug.

And go pub crawling with Prince Harry. That guy is a fucking hoot.
posted by Xoebe at 4:23 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Scottish and Welsh, actually.

Scotland and Wales aren't part of Britain anymore?

Heh. I remarked last night, after seeing some breathless Beeb America teasers, that all my British friends have been tweeting things like, "No, seriously, no one in England gives a fuck about the wedding, despite the media," for the last week or so.

BBC America airs Star Trek TNG and The X-Files every day. They don't care about showing British programming, it's just part of their name to sound classy.

Also: if they're supposed to represent the national character of England, then how come they're German?

The Anglo-Saxons finally overthrew the Normans. It only took them 900 years.
posted by riruro at 4:23 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The concierge told her about the elaborate set of rules the hotel had to agree to: nobody was allowed to look HRH in the eye or address her directly, the lobby had to be full of blue hydrangeas, and so on. As far as I know, there was no provision for removing all the green M&Ms from the dressing room, but I wouldn't be surprised. I thought it was fairly shocking that a hotel in the state that gave us Jefferson and Madison would agree to tug the forelock like that.

You think if Oprah or Tom Cruise stays at a hotel that there aren't the same sorts of rules? Every country has royalty. The UK just has the decency to call them that.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:24 PM on April 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think the royals need to go away, but It's Never Lurgi has a point. What is the Bush, Clinton, or Kennedy families if not American Royalty? The Pratchett quote above is absolutely right: If you don't have royalty, people have some sort of need to make their own. It's gotta come from the same place as religion, doesn't it?
posted by maxwelton at 4:26 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


For me, the money shot of Hitchens' rant:
Some British people claim actually to "love" their rather dumpy Hanoverian ruling house. This love takes the macabre form of demanding a regular human sacrifice whereby unexceptional people are condemned to lead wholly artificial and strained existences, and then punished or humiliated when they crack up.
I think Hitchens sees the human members of the monarchy as just as much victims of the system as those who expect these abused and cloistered people to function as rulers. It's as if you expected the Gimp from Pulp Fiction to rally the troops and fix the economy, only the Gimp in question isn't an enthusiastic volunteer but just some person who was born into the S&M cult who isn't even personally interested in S&M.
posted by localroger at 4:27 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't know, at least you get something for your money (tourism, etc).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:20 AM on April 20


I'm sorry, but balls to that brainless, tired old argument. People do not come to Britain to see the fucking queen, like they were that fucking nursery rhyme kitty. They come to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London and so forth. The trappings of monarchy will not magically disappear once we hang... err, I mean abolish, the monarchy. People go to the Caves of Altamira to see the cool cave paintings. They don't expect to see fucking cavemen there, do they?

Seriously: stop using this bullshit tourism argument. It's embarrassing.
posted by Decani at 4:27 PM on April 19, 2011 [13 favorites]


I assume the royals know to use "are" and not "is." Stupid low-born parents! (Shakes fist.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:27 PM on April 19, 2011


I suspect Oprah and Tom Cruise make a lot of outlandish demands wherever they stay, but I doubt they specify that nobody is to address them directly; and if they did, the tabloids would eat them for lunch. At least the pretense of equality must be maintained.

Also, Oprah is a pretty good talk-show host, and Tom Cruise has made at least one good movie.
posted by steambadger at 4:29 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


stop using this bullshit tourism argument

I don't know, as a tourist I thought it was interesting that the royalty is still there. Maybe I'm the only one in the world.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:29 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


People do not come to Britain to see the fucking queen

True dat. In England you have just one queen, here in the States we have so many.
posted by jonmc at 4:29 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


And they probably do a lot more fucking.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:30 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know, as a tourist I thought it was interesting that the royalty is still there. Maybe I'm the only one in the world.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:29 AM on April 20


And would absence of royalty stop you coming to visit Britain?

No. It wouldn't, would it? Right? See my point?
posted by Decani at 4:31 PM on April 19, 2011


"BBC America airs Star Trek TNG and The X-Files every day. They don't care about showing British programming, it's just part of their name to sound classy."

Why, yes, the teaser was an ad during the X-Files rerun, come to mention it.

"Seriously: stop using this bullshit tourism argument. It's embarrassing."

I would come to England if they executed a royal every four years or so (maybe for failure to win a world cup or something). Let 'em have fatted lives, then give 'em the ol' Shirley Jackson. People'd pay good money to see that, and it'd get rid of all the normal ethical qualms about public executions.
posted by klangklangston at 4:32 PM on April 19, 2011


Also, as the descendent of Irish Catholic immigrants, I feel obliged to loathe the British aristocracy on general principles.
posted by jonmc at 4:32 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's the point of railing against the monarchy and royal wedding when you're helping it stay in the headlines?

This is a prime example of, "Ewwww, this tastes terrible...want some?"
posted by rhizome at 4:33 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


"People do not come to Britain to see the fucking queen"

Not since the Freddy Mercury died, no.
posted by klangklangston at 4:33 PM on April 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


BBC America airs Star Trek TNG and The X-Files every day. They don't care about showing British programming, it's just part of their name to sound classy.

I've been having a lengthy "discussion" with BBC America over the past 3-4 years about how they've ruined their brand. They don't give a shit. It's all just eyeballs for advertisers as far as they're concerned, and creating an actual BBC presence in the American television landscape isn't part of that plan.
posted by hippybear at 4:34 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


In England you have just one queen, here in the States we have so many.

But the queens we use would not excite you.
posted by mykescipark at 4:34 PM on April 19, 2011 [14 favorites]



We also have White Castle, Bruce Springsteen and straight teeth.
posted by jonmc at 12:04 AM on April 20

Only one of which is any use at all. And let's face it: he hasn't been for about thirty years.


Besides the merits of his music (which are considerable) Springsteen serves a function not unlike the monarchy. He bestows his blessing on younger bands - Social Distortion, The National, The Gaslight Anthem, Dropkick Murphies - and honors them by his attention.

I like the idea of the monarchy, actually. The continuity. The glamor and the pageantry. But it's got so vulgar and middle class and boring. And it will be taking over all the TV here next Friday.

If you're of the type that enjoys 'taking the piss', The Chaser will be mocking the Royal Wedding. Not sure it needs more attention.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:34 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


o. It wouldn't, would it? Right? See my point?

Thats not my point though. I think it adds a small something to the experience.

Plus my understanding was a bunch of people in Britain are making money off the wedding (selling wedding-related stuff). So there's that.

Look, I'm not saying it's some huge economic engine or anything. But as an American it seems like such a small amount of money compared to what we give away to people who have far, far less to do with our country. I guess I don't understand the hatred, but it's none of my business either way.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:35 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think Hitchens sees the human members of the monarchy as just as much victims of the system as those who expect these abused and cloistered people to function as rulers.

This is from Johann Hari's article linked upthread:
The monarchist spin-machine, the tabloids and the tea-towel industry have created a pair of fictitious characters for us to cheer, while the real people behind them are being tormented by their supposed admirers. Think back to the 1981 royal wedding and you realise how little we know about these people we are supposed to get moist and weepy over. While millions wept at the "fairytale wedding", Diana was ramming her fingers down her throat, Charles was cursing that he didn't love her, and they both stood at the aisle raging against their situation and everyone around them, while the nation cheered.

Similarly, from beneath the spin, the evidence is pretty clear that William and Kate will be smiling at us through gritted teeth. We now know from several impeccable sources that for a long time as a young man, William raged against the monarchy and wanted no part of it. He once screamed at photographers: "Why won't you just let me be a normal person?" Alistair Campbell's diaries show that William is "consumed by a total hatred of the media", who he believes – pretty accurately – ruined his mother's life and contributed to her death.

This hasn't faded: he jibed in his most recent interview that he always aims to "outfox the media". But he knows the monarchy today is a rolling media road-show selling nothing but itself. That's why, in her last interview with the BBC's Jennie Bond, Diana said William had told her longingly that she was "very lucky to be able to give up your HRH" – her royal status. Republicans want to set this couple free to have good, happy lives in the Republic of Britain – which they would clearly take as a blessed relief.
posted by vidur at 4:35 PM on April 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


In England you have just one queen, here in the States we have so many.

But the queens we use would not excite you.


Fuck! In that case, I'd better go back to my bars, my temples...my massage parlors...
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:35 PM on April 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm sorry, but balls to that brainless, tired old argument. People do not come to Britain to see the fucking queen, like they were that fucking nursery rhyme kitty. They come to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London and so forth. The trappings of monarchy will not magically disappear once we hang... err, I mean abolish, the monarchy. People go to the Caves of Altamira to see the cool cave paintings. They don't expect to see fucking cavemen there, do they?


The royal family is part of it, though. It's the idea of something grander and more glorious than the low, vulgar American culture. Which has it's own rude attraction, I must admit.

*goes back to posting about comic books and B-movies*
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:36 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, how is it that they can't make the thing profitable?

They do. It will generate about a billion dollars of commercial activity this year alone. The wedding of Charles & Diana is estimated to have brought about 9 billion pounds (not dollars) into the UK economy over the last 20 years.

I'm a Brit. I pay for these fucking parasitical, unjustifiably privileged cunts.

No you don't. The Crown Estates, a publicly-owned company, pays about £200 million a year into the treasury, out of which ~25% goes back to the civil list (which is the source of all royalty-related income and expense monies). Those who receive payments from the civil list, whether by birth or by employment, pay income taxes. The net result is that 85% of all those rents, admission fees and gift shoppe profits stay in the treasury. Source.

It's a nice little earner for the UK even in an average year; London is the world's most popular tourist destination, and tourism accounts for about 10% of the economy and 12% of jobs. This year will be especially profitable.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:36 PM on April 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


So, when William gets kinged, who thinks he's going to put his scepter where his mouth is* and start work on getting the whole HRH system dismantled?

* Oo-er missus, etc.
posted by No-sword at 4:37 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, if Bruce is monarchy, what does that make New Jersey?
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:37 PM on April 19, 2011


I've said it before, I'll say it again: why does anyone give a shit about what some rich search and rescue pilot and an an accessory buyer are up to? Oh, a wedding? Unless there's an open bar and I'm invited I don't care. I'll be at work not giving a shit. Well maybe I'll give a shit, if the wedding is happening after my lunch break.

The only thing I'm looking for out of the whole mess is something Rule 34 related. Come on 4chan, don't let me down.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:37 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any other white guys want to weigh in?

I'd love to, thanks for asking. I'd say it's a solid ounce, not counting seeds and stems.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:38 PM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Unless there's an open bar and I'm invited I don't care.

I feel this way about everything
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:38 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Johann Hari's take on the monarchy.
posted by acb at 4:40 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Monarchies are like herpes - they are completely impossible to eradicate entirely. Look at the Russians and the French - they both had a damned good go at not merely murdering their incumbent monarchs but also, while they were at it, as many members of their families as possible, as well as the royalists who supported them.

Despite this carnage, lines of succession to both houses still remain, disputed though they are, Perhaps sadly, there is no possibility of both eliminating an entire Royal Family and all the idiots and reactionaries who will subsequently dig up some tenth cousin thrice removed and proclaim them the new and rightful King - or Queen, only, you know these people, it'll be a King, probably.

This is why I suspect the Swedes may be on to something; they retain their monarch, for the little that is worth, but he is not even the nominal chief executive of government, unlike in the UK, where we maintain a fiction of Royal Assent. It's clear that there are still some less than purely ceremonial things going on around the Swedish Royal family, including money, for which there is no justication whatsoever, but it also looks like the Swedes are getting a better deal from their herpes monarchy than are we in the UK.

This is why I am not, after all, against the monarchy. Republicanism is pointless. Herpes cannot be eradicated. What I do still object to, in the strongest possible terms, is the Civil List. Realistically, we can't get rid of the Royal Family, but what we absolutely can do is stop giving them money.

Let them have their fancy titles and their stupid ceremonies. Let one them be - nominally - head of state, so long as they behave - it's better than making the head of state a political thing. Let the head of state get a reasonable salary for the job - that's fair enough.

But the rest of them? There is zero justification whatsoever for the state paying a single penny to the rest of them above and beyond the normal Jobseeker's Allowance to which they may or may not be entitled.
posted by motty at 4:40 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me just mark one thing: I've heard hardly anybody in real life express pretty shit about this wedding, but the media says we're "reaching fever pitch". Bull. And what's more, those same media bastards will come back in 25 years and drag out fake nostalgia about their media reports about how fevered the pitch was that we all reached. Hopefully by that time I will be dead, deaf, or famously drunk.
posted by Jehan at 4:41 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Americans say 'napkin'. Aussies say 'serviette'. Both countries presumably of lower class than Britain. Why do they prefer 'napkin'?

I believe the proper term is victuals-cloth.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:44 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


justification, one of them, bah...
posted by motty at 4:45 PM on April 19, 2011


Motty, while it was the method of the past I don't think anybody today is seriously advocating the genocidal extermination of monarchic families. I think what they're advocating is that we all take a deep breath and tell these people, you know what? You're famous and everyone knows who you are and that's a currency you can take with you, but otherwise you are no different than the rest of us. While my country has given me many reasons to be ashamed, particularly of late, it is hard not to be proud of the path George Washington carved for us in this respect, and the example he set.
posted by localroger at 4:46 PM on April 19, 2011


I (a Brit) find the Royal Family fascinating, because there's an argument to be made that they're the closest thing we have to state approved slaves.

They're doomed to a life being scrutinised by the media, obligated to take part in an endless run of dull public events, long, arcane ceremonies, people to be greeted and indulged, etc. etc. All of this surrounded by a security retinue, necessary because you're perceived to be a prime target for terrorists, obsessive fans and all manner of other nutters. I'm not saying that this is dangerous or especially difficult work (although anyone with a sufficiently boring job will attest that enduring hours of boredom every day is difficult), but it's a life with no anonymity, no privacy, no spontaneity. I don't know about the rest of metafilter, but that sounds pretty horrifying to relatively introverted me.

Unlike celebrities or politicians, who know what they're getting themselves into and actively pursue the media spotlight, they're born into this role and know that their children will be born into the same situation. A royal who chose not to engage in public events -- and therefore avoid the media's collective eye -- will inevitably be labelled as snobby, ungrateful or stand-offish.They have the option of abdication, but this too would be a scandal catapulting them into the public eye, with no real possibility that the paparazzi would ever actually leave them alone. They haven't chosen this role, they've just been born into a family that the entire country, much of the comonwealth and chunks of the rest of the world expects to behave in a very specific way and to perform a long list of duties and favours. Hell, it seems likely Harry and William joined the armed forces -- albeit on special training programmes -- because that's what the nation expected of them.

Yes, they get to live in beautiful buildings and wear posh clothes, but this is practically a gilded cage. They simply don't have the option of selling up and moving to a little cottage in the country, or of popping out to the cinema with some mates in ratty jeans. And, given the tight budgets and the fact that the ancestral homes are listed buildings, I doubt that they any more say over the decoration of their living spaces than I do in my rented flat.

No political power, very little freedom of action and an extremely strong pressure to behave in a very specific, squeaky-clean way. In a very real sense, we don't view this family as our rulers, we view them as our property. The monarchy is a sick system and should be abolished, but for almost exactly the opposite of the reasons that everyone normally gives.

As an introvert raised in a smallish community where, because of my parent's jobs, everyone knew me and had strong expectations about how I was supposed to behave, it's possible that I have a slightly weird outlook on this topic.
posted by metaBugs at 4:46 PM on April 19, 2011 [77 favorites]


People do not come to Britain to see the fucking queen, like they were that fucking nursery rhyme kitty. [...] Seriously: stop using this bullshit tourism argument. It's embarrassing.

Right, that's why there's never a crowd outside Buck House and nobody can make a living selling tacky souvenirs of royalty. The idea that she is one of the world's biggest celebrities is nothing but a silly rumor. When she pays a state visit to Ireland next month, for example, she'll probably have difficulty even getting a taxi - the best she can hope for is to be spit at by a few patriotic rebels.

Seriously, she's quite popular. Pretending this isn't true is just silly, no matter how embarrassing you find her.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:46 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm a monarchist - in that I'm yet to see a proposal for buggering with the Australian (or, indeed, the British) constitution that I've liked. I look forward to the day that I do see one. That said, weddings - all weddings - bore me to tears.
posted by pompomtom at 4:47 PM on April 19, 2011


Much though I'm a fan of beheading them all, I have to agree that the Swedish model is by far the most effective one.
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on April 19, 2011


I'm annoyed that my adopted country, for all its egalitarian trappings, is ruled by an overseas, unelected monarch. OTOH perhaps they keep us from completely descending into barbarism.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:49 PM on April 19, 2011


YouTube To Stream Royal Wedding Live via 'The Royal Channel.'
posted by ericb at 4:51 PM on April 19, 2011


I'm somewhat in favor of the Dutch model. Like the Swedish model, but you make the Queen's birthday a bit like Cinco de Mayo.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:51 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


metaBugs, you make a more extended form of an argument that Hitchens hints at in TFA, that the Royals are really victims of the system too. Consider, should a Royal choose to abdicate, he or she then has to make way in a world where they will be pestered by papparazzi for the rest of their lives yet also have to compete with normal people who have grown up expecting to have to get educated, find a job, and pay the rent.
posted by localroger at 4:52 PM on April 19, 2011


"Much though I'm a fan of beheading them all, I have to agree that the Swedish model is by far the most effective one."

Do they freeze them to death there?
posted by klangklangston at 4:53 PM on April 19, 2011


They yump on their yiminy.
posted by jonmc at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The frozen necks slice much cleaner.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2011


I am 157,341 in line for the throne.

gold pressed latnum is accepted.
posted by clavdivs at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


ProTip: Don't try the Swedish "meatballs."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:56 PM on April 19, 2011


Almost everyone on earth has descended from royalty.
posted by thebestusernameever at 4:57 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I suspect Oprah and Tom Cruise make a lot of outlandish demands wherever they stay, but I doubt they specify that nobody is to address them directly; and if they did, the tabloids would eat them for lunch. At least the pretense of equality must be maintained.

Kitty Kelley's bio of Oprah implicates her in this kind of behavior on a regular basis. I'm more willing to believe that she's capable of that kind of behavior than not, mostly because she has had more power and money in the last 20 years than God, and she's as corruptible as anyone else is.

And the tabloids eat both of these people to lunch as often and as viciously as they can, in between all the bouts of fawning and swooning and ass-kissing.
posted by blucevalo at 4:58 PM on April 19, 2011


No you don't. The Crown Estates, a publicly-owned company, pays about £200 million a year into the treasury, out of which ~25% goes back to the civil list (which is the source of all royalty-related income and expense monies). Those who receive payments from the civil list, whether by birth or by employment, pay income taxes. The net result is that 85% of all those rents, admission fees and gift shoppe profits stay in the treasury.

Forgive me, but tens of thousands of people died to create the "Crown estate", so I'm not really buying the idea that English people haven't paid for that.
posted by Jehan at 4:59 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least royal wedding stories give great URLs.
posted by pompomtom at 5:02 PM on April 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Guillotine.
posted by dortmunder at 5:04 PM on April 19, 2011


You can put any text you like before the numerical bit, pompomtom.
posted by motty at 5:05 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Consider, should a Royal choose to abdicate, he or she then has to make way in a world where they will be pestered by papparazzi for the rest of their lives yet also have to compete with normal people who have grown up expecting to have to get educated, find a job, and pay the rent.

I reckon they'd make do, just like ex-reality TV stars manage to do when in the same situation.
posted by Artw at 5:06 PM on April 19, 2011


My long-held desire that people would stop paying attention to Christopher Hitchens so that he would just go away isn't working out all that well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:09 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Kate Middleton jelly bean"

Heh.. if I had $5 to spare, I'd create another sockpuppet account with that name, just to post in this thread.
posted by vidur at 5:10 PM on April 19, 2011


Booo..
posted by pompomtom at 5:10 PM on April 19, 2011


Hasn't worked on the royal family, either, I see.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:11 PM on April 19, 2011


My long-held desire that people would stop paying attention to Christopher Hitchens so that he would just go away isn't working out all that well.

Oh I forgot I had a Hitchens story.
I went and saw him at the Opera House and afterwards there was a reception. My friend was helping organize it but she'd forgot to put in for booze so she sent her brother out to get some Jack Daniels (I think). He followed Hitchens around filling his cup.

I was giggling and blushing like a schoolboy but I managed to say a few words to him and shake his hand! I've never been that starstruck, oddly enough. Later I declined an invitation to go out with him and Tony Jones and a big group for 3am Yum Cha. I'll always regret it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:13 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Diana said William had told her longingly that she was "very lucky to be able to give up your HRH" – her royal status.

There's something very British in the notion that the lead Republican out there could be the next in line for the throne.
posted by the cydonian at 5:15 PM on April 19, 2011


What's Christopher's secret for drinking like a fish and managing to pull of these 3AM dinners?! It isn't like he's drinking near beer.
posted by geoff. at 5:20 PM on April 19, 2011


It's a God-given talent.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:22 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Crown Estates, a publicly-owned company, pays about £200 million a year into the treasury, out of which ~25% goes back to the civil list (which is the source of all royalty-related income and expense monies). Those who receive payments from the civil list, whether by birth or by employment, pay income taxes.

I (an American) have always been intrigued by this. So, if I've understood correctly, the Crown Estates makes its money off of selling and leasing land and through a number of other ventures, including — I believe I've read — holdings of artwork and some portion of the Crown Jewels? Historically the monarch would have owned all these things directly but they were surrendered to Parliament by George III in return for the Civil List payment, while the remainder of the income is used for other public projects. Furthermore, other, tax-based (?) income provides the funding for the Royal Houses and for some other state-business related expenses. Do I have all that right?
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 5:22 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


English monarchs used to be able to revoke corporate charters at will, didn't they?

If they still could, I'd be ready to pledge fealty right this minute.
posted by jamjam at 5:29 PM on April 19, 2011


Forgive me, but tens of thousands of people died to create the "Crown estate", so I'm not really buying the idea that English people haven't paid for that.

Not in the last couple of centuries. Anyone claiming ownership on the basis of what their ancestors did is implicitly restating the argument for aristocracy. I like a republican form of government myself (I'm not British to begin with), but I can't help having a laugh at people who are furiously anti-monarchical, as if some passing aristocrat had just whipped them from horseback. Protip: killing people does little to alter underlying social structure. It's more of a rebranding exercise designed to fool the impressionable.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:44 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Monarchies are like herpes - they are completely impossible to eradicate entirely. Look at the Russians and the French - they both had a damned good go at not merely murdering their incumbent monarchs but also, while they were at it, as many members of their families as possible, as well as the royalists who supported them.

It's worth pointing out that the aftermath of both Russian and French revolutions were one hell of a lot worse than the monarchies, bad as they were, that preceded them. Not quite the same as the old boss, that is to say.

(And really, comparing their deposed descendents to herpes? That's just gratuitous.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:47 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe he meant "harpies."
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:50 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


killing people does little to alter underlying social structure. It's more of a rebranding exercise designed to fool the impressionable

I've heard the same argument made about voting. Might even be true. I suspect it's mostly true about all incremental change. Of course, that's not an argument for killing people. Just an observation.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:54 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well I'm rather excited about the whole thing.
posted by contessa at 5:58 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm certainly swayed by the anti-monarchist arguments which rely on the constant repetition of the word 'fucking' for their powers of persuasion. Such pithy expletives add greatly to the much vaunted atmosphere of intelligence and civility around here and save busy people such a lot of time compared to all that tedious evidence or logic nonsense often demanded of people espousing alternative views.

Shockingly, despite the evident consensus against the institution here on Metafilter, the British monarchy remains highly popular and there's no chance whatsoever of it being abolished but feel free to keep calling for people to have their heads chopped off. Good job the Royal Family aren't convicted mass murderers, otherwise a lot of the same people calling for their execution here would have to start demanding they be let off with a big bunch of flowers and a cuddle. Sorry, a fucking cuddle.
posted by joannemullen at 5:59 PM on April 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


What the fucking hell are you fucking talking about?
posted by jonmc at 6:01 PM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


True. They haven't been convicted. Sorry, fucking convicted.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:01 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


*rimshot*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:02 PM on April 19, 2011


If the Brits relish such things, then that is their business. If Hitch does not, then that is his.
I am totally caught up with the Kennedys, the Bush family, and now Obama and wife and children...so fascinating to learn his sports interest, how she dresses in gowns, and their doggie.
posted by Postroad at 6:02 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The aftermath of both Russian and French revolutions were one hell of a lot worse than the monarchies

Only for the privileged.
posted by motty at 6:05 PM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I say walk like an Egyptian.
posted by humanfont at 6:10 PM on April 19, 2011


birdherder: Unlike courgette, aubergine and bureau de change?

Everyone needs to stop arguing. This is supposed to be a high-class Bureau de Change!
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:13 PM on April 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


Don't they largely live off their own family investments and whatnot? Their impact on taxpayers, as far as I can tell, is fairly negligible.
posted by TravellingDen at 6:16 PM on April 19, 2011


What a wonderful article! for it has led me to the (unbeknownst to me previously) medlar ("open-arse" in Tudor English and "cul-de-chien" ("dog butt") in French) which I now must seek out and partake thereof.
posted by unliteral at 6:26 PM on April 19, 2011


Still don't get how Canadians and Aussies live under an overseas unelected monarch.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:27 PM on April 19, 2011


With humor.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:28 PM on April 19, 2011


I think it's a question of values. The title, deference and perks (admittedly not so much any more, but there is still the concept of hereditary peerage) accorded to the crown and nobility is implicitly saying "These people are better than the average citizen". The republican argument, to my mind a strong one, is that the institution of the monarchy is fundamentally incompatible with the ideal of equality. Simple as that.

Now, I'm not exactly sold on this argument, because it ignores the practical reality of rewriting the constitution and abolishing or reforming the honours system, but there it is.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:35 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always thought English royalty was sort of like the civil war re-creationists in the U.S. A bunch of odd people in a live action play where the real history is completely abandoned so that focus can be on costumes and the few non-horrific historic details.

Except that with English royalty the entire nation must not only play along, but also foot the bill.

Royalty was all about killing people in other countries, and exploiting your citizens. Other than poor people paying them to live well, the current royal family doesn't seem to be upholding any sort of tradition or history. But then I'm a fat stupid American, so what do I know.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:37 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


implicitly saying "These people are better than the average citizen"

I don't see anything implicit about it. Admittedly, I'm an American by birth and a little-D democrat by political stripe so the idea of monarchy at all is repugnant to me, but calling anyone "Your Highness" seems pretty explicit.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:38 PM on April 19, 2011


Still don't get how Canadians and Aussies live under an overseas unelected monarch.

It's easy. The monarch has ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT on our lives. She's a figurehead. She's on the money, but that's about it. You've probably though about it more during this post than most Australians your age have in their entire lives.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:38 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's easy. The monarch has ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT on our lives. She's a figurehead. She's on the money, but that's about it. You've probably though about it more during this post than most Australians your age have in their entire lives.

She removed Whitlam. And the unelected Governor General is our head of state and not the elected Prime Minister. That's pretty messed up. And there's another country that has the exact same arrangement, despite being on the other side of the world. It's bizarre.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:53 PM on April 19, 2011


The institutions that led to there being a monarchy are despicable and totally outdated--we just don't believe any more that certain human beings, ordained by God, are better than others. We can't even really wrap our head around that sort of thinking, anymore, and this is a good thing. The base of monarchy is bloodshed, oppression, and sorrow.

All the same, however, I think some desire to support monarchy.

I'm an American. The first time that I was really aware of politics was the impeachment of President Clinton: my country's leader was taken to court over a blowjob. Then, in my first year as an adult, a handful of crazy people flew airplanes into some buildings, and everyone around me went insane. My leaders went insane. No one could think past tomorrow anymore: it was the politics of Immediate Reaction To Threat. And now, my country's leader can barely do anything worthwhile because he is constantly attacked for being a Muslim (which would matter..why?), a Kenyan, a socialist, a fascist, and on and on. And every time he speaks, his words are distorted by a screen of political party. No one in the US can speak for the country without speaking as a member of a single political party.

I worry about this. I think it is dangerous. And so I look over to Queen Elizabeth, and I feel some envy. The monarch is a symbol of the country's spirit, independent of petty political bullshit. The monarch's whole life is shaped around supporting the good of the nation; the structure of her life does not leave her likely to be swept up in the politics of NOWNOWNOW, like politicians are. I yearn for someone in the US to be able to speak for and about my country the way Queen Elizabeth can speak about hers.

Or, at least, that's my idealized view. Constitutional monarchy is subject to problems like any political system, but I think it definitely has some serious benefits republicanism and democracy don't have. It seems like constitutional monarchy could inspire a healthier political climate than what the US currently has...

...But, perhaps, that says more about the US than its particular style of democracy. Just as, I assume, my appreciation for constitutional monarchy says more about the historical climate that has shaped me than anything else.
posted by meese at 6:57 PM on April 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


Didn't the queen save Stephen Harpers government through some machinations with the governor general of Canada?
posted by humanfont at 6:57 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl: Anyone claiming ownership on the basis of what their ancestors did is implicitly restating the argument for aristocracy.

What our ancestors (and yours too) did was fight a series of brutal civil wars topped off with a regicide and then another revolution to bring about a system that strives to come as close as practicable to treating everyone equally.

Part of the price of that system was allowing a particular class to continue, albeit with their totemic family under the tight control of an elected parliament. It's a bit like having Ba'athists involved in running Iraq or ex-Nazis in post war Germany. Odious but necessary.

The capital M Monarchy is gone (as anyone who tries to act like Charles I will find out), replaced for the most part by "The Crown".

The Crown really doesn't need a person attached to it to do pretty much everything it does. Countries like Canada and Australia realise this and are happy for the most part to let things run the way they do. It's like having a boss who never shows up at your place of work or make any decisions. Why would you get rid of them? You could end up with a real boss who was a complete arsehole and who turned up every day.

That extra little step of getting rid of the Hooray Henries attached to the office means a lot to Republicans and Royalists both, but doesn't warrant the grief it would cause. People on both sides feel very strongly about the symbolism and it really won't need changing until some crisis pushes things too far.

Having said that, I have a strong preference for a Republic and it really irks me that there is a whole class of people in positions of privilege as a result of that largely symbolic token. I also find it baffling that working class people will idolise the monarchy. The middle class "aspirants" I can understand more (though I find that even more repugnant) and of course Middleton is living the dream for them all. Mostly though I feel the same way about them as I do about "Howard's Battlers" or Tea Partiers.

On preview, Kerr removed Whitlam (with a lot of help from Fraser and indeed Whitlam) the Queen had nothing to do with it. When the Liberals effect a coup, it's very handy to be able to have people blame someone else.
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:01 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not in the last couple of centuries.

Yeah, let bygones be bygones. I mean, what does it matter that they've never apologized?

Seriously though, I don't want a personal apology, just a recognition that they get millions of pounds because their ancestors killed lots of people and stole lots of stuff. Instead we get commemorative tea towels and stupid news reports about look-a-like jelly beans. We need a truth and reconciliation so we can talk about the past with honesty, not silly charade of history we have to pretend to believe in when we discuss the monarchy.

Does it not seem crazy to you that a whole country has never had this kind of debate in modern times? Outside of academic circles, the discussion of the monarchy really is uninformed and ahistorical.

I yearn for someone in the US to be able to speak for and about my country the way Queen Elizabeth can speak about hers.

The view from outside sure is weird...
posted by Jehan at 7:03 PM on April 19, 2011


I've never done this before, and probably shouldn't, but ...

metafilter: everybody is seemingly moist with excitement

I mean, come on, did he really just say that in the first paragraph? Doesn't he know people have allergic reactions to the word "moist"? and by connecting "excitement" to it just ... oh, I see what you did there, Hitch.
posted by mapinduzi at 7:03 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't the queen save Stephen Harpers government through some machinations with the governor general of Canada?

While the governor general granting prorogation of parliament to save Harper's government was its own hornets nest of problems, the Queen was not involved in any way.
posted by Adam_S at 7:04 PM on April 19, 2011


Oh mummy, my cat's breath smells like cat food.

Also, Hitchens gonna bitch.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:04 PM on April 19, 2011


Sorry, before anyone takes it the wrong way, I mean Whitlam could've let someone in Senate know what was going on, thereby crippling the new Fraser Government and showing it to be as ineffective as his. I didn't mean he should've caused an even deeper crisis by refusing to step down.
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:04 PM on April 19, 2011


One time, we had a Scottish sailor exchange on our ship. I asked him about the monarchy, and he actually was rather pro-Her Majesty. The Queen, he said, gives them a reason to all be together, a common bond which English, Welsh, Scottish, and Northern Irish all belong to. As he was not a fan of pompous Scottish nationalism (and loathed separatism), he felt that the monarchy was a great point of union. Also something that made Northern Ireland different from the Republic of Ireland. What's the point once you have two Irish republics right next to each other. I wasn't exactly sold . . . but I could understand where he was coming from.

Truthfully, I think that a lot of countries, including mine, should have a regent. A head of state who is elected young, then trained in how to be a head of state and all that royal meet-and-greet skills, someone who has no power, but we chose to represent our best side, when we are all young and dashing. A prince. And then, after that term, the person moves on and never serves in government again. In a way, the ultimate Queen for a Day. We choose a commoner, someone who has the ability to become dashing, someone who doesn't want to be a senator or is not conniving for political power. And we give them all the ceremony. We make royalty both grand and egalitarian, and we formally divorce it from politics. Somewhat like a governor-general, but instead of an elder statesman, it's pauper-turned-prince, a state of perpetual youth that would do more to be the embodiment of a nation than a politician.

(I have nothing against politicians, but I can understand why you would want your head of state not to be one.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:05 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


humanfont: AFAIK, The Governor General is more or less obliged to acquiesce to the prime minister's wishes in dissolving and proroguing parliament.

In theory, the queen could order the governor general to refuse the request. In practice it would probably lead to the end of the monarchy. It'd be rather like the queen trying to refuse royal assent, theoretically possible, but it would not wash.

on preview: Lord Chancellor, my idea was election from randomly selected candidates, 20 year term as head of state. Comes out to the same thing really.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:08 PM on April 19, 2011


On preview, Kerr removed Whitlam (with a lot of help from Fraser and indeed Whitlam) the Queen had nothing to do with it.

Thanks, GeckoDundee. I was just about to say that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:09 PM on April 19, 2011


what, no hate for the house of lords?
posted by ennui.bz at 7:11 PM on April 19, 2011


She removed Whitlam. And the unelected Governor General is our head of state and not the elected Prime Minister. That's pretty messed up. And there's another country that has the exact same arrangement, despite being on the other side of the world. It's bizarre.

This is how everyone outside of the US feels about the electoral college system. Different countries are different, film at eleven.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:14 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


The coverage of this monarchist bullshit is a symptom of the sickness of the news, not necessarily only of Britain. The Royal Wedding is one of those things that no one bothers to turn off, that can be endlessly speculated about, and that is interesting enough to a broad amount of people who click through to make the ratings spin along without having to invest in real reporting beyond a few tickets to London. The whole thing could be covered by Joan Rivers and whoever got 2nd in American Idol a few years ago at pennies per thousand viewers.

I'm sure more copy has gone to the wedding in the last month than has to the dead civilians and soldiers Iraq and Afghanistan. This is beyond fucked up.

However, I don't think blaming the Royals solves anything. We can only blame ourselves for continuing to fund the train wreck viewing station that is the modern news.
posted by notion at 7:23 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The us-versus-them football-fan discussion going on here between the US and the UK is embarrassing.

I always take it for granted that those of us using the internet see through the bullshit of nation states. I take it for granted that we understand that the institutions set up to rule us do not make our lives easier or better.

When I see the people on metafilter arguing that the US is better because Britons have crooked teeth or that the UK is better because it doesn't have Sarah Palin in it, I get disgusted. It's like the internet isn't allowing us to transcend our nations. Instead, the internet is being used as just another venue for jingoistic, nationalistic fights.

What a horrible waste.

For shame.
posted by chanology at 7:33 PM on April 19, 2011 [6 favorites]



This is the kind of discourse one gets from a writer who doesn't believe in God. (I bet if he believed in God, he'd believe in the infallible monarchy...I mean, who doesn't?)
posted by bengalsfan1 at 7:33 PM on April 19, 2011


I just want to see the crazy hats the ladies wear. Is that so bad?
posted by DrGirlfriend at 7:34 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I worry about this. I think it is dangerous. And so I look over to Queen Elizabeth, and I feel some envy. The monarch is a symbol of the country's spirit, independent of petty political bullshit. The monarch's whole life is shaped around supporting the good of the nation; the structure of her life does not leave her likely to be swept up in the politics of NOWNOWNOW, like politicians are. I yearn for someone in the US to be able to speak for and about my country the way Queen Elizabeth can speak about hers.

We already discussed Bruce Springsteen.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:40 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


The PM refuses to wear morning dress! What the fuck kind of nonsense is that?
posted by grubi at 7:41 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


MONARCHY QUESTION: In some Middle Eastern and North African countrries with monarchies, there is a little plus in that (supposedly) if you've got some problems and you're a little guy, you can get a meeting with some local person who is royalty and he gets a stipend with which he is supposed to help poor souls out of their binds, and connections to fix things. Like mobsters and patrons and stuff. Do you get that in Britain? I just think there must be some upside the citizenry perceives which has kept them around.
posted by floam at 7:42 PM on April 19, 2011


MONARCHY QUESTION: In some Middle Eastern and North African countrries with monarchies, there is a little plus in that (supposedly) if you've got some problems and you're a little guy, you can get a meeting with some local person who is royalty and he gets a stipend with which he is supposed to help poor souls out of their binds, and connections to fix things. Like mobsters and patrons and stuff. Do you get that in Britain? I just think there must be some upside the citizenry perceives which has kept them around.

Nothing so forward. People like costumes, titles, ceremony, history, myth, gold, crowns, shiny objects of quasi-holy status, pageantry, and formal, grandiose speeches. No amount of republicanism will changes ANY of those things. That's why people like royal families.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:46 PM on April 19, 2011


As it happens, floam's right, tomorrow's the day. (An Easter thing, not a wedding thing, though as Queen of Scotland she, or more properly Phil the Greek, should be having a scramble).
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:52 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well I'm rather excited about the whole thing.
posted by contessa


No further questions, your honour.
posted by No-sword at 7:52 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


GeckoDundee: That's kinda neat. I love that they come in colorful little purses. If I ever take over or run my own country I'm going to have some kind of institutionalized holiday gifts. Every citizen will get a beautifully wrapped gift from their loving dictator. I'll have some kind of very smart algorithm to calculate appropriate choices based on their demographic information and statistics from whatever data I have in my files on them, and I'll make sure nobody they associate with gets the same one. How could you ever want to behead me?
posted by floam at 8:15 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I view our dutch monarchy as people we pay a lot of money to secretly despise us.

I can't agree to the alternative of Bruce Springsteen though. Where I'm from he's foreign and thus pretentious.
I proclaim my staying true to being a common man by listening to Frans.
posted by joost de vries at 8:18 PM on April 19, 2011


Who heads the privy council and the head spook.

If Bruce royalty then Kid Rock is the Marquis of Beam.
posted by clavdivs at 8:23 PM on April 19, 2011


Long live the Hitch!
posted by bicyclefish at 8:34 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still don't get how Canadians and Aussies live under an overseas unelected monarch.

What are they supposed to do about it? If they dared to even complain, the Speech Enforcers would bundle them off to the slave camps, and force them to scribble over the scary parts in Mortal Kombat with black marker!

Seriously, when Australia held a referendum on the matter, it didn't pass, and I recall the two most popular arguments for the monarchist side being (1) What, you trust politicians to rewrite the constitution? and (2) What, you want a President instead? Like America?

Anyway, when the results came in, Keating erupted into a fireball of uncontrollable rage that laid waste to most of Canberra, Akira-style, and that's why Howard had to live in Sydney.
posted by No-sword at 8:36 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


The republican argument, to my mind a strong one, is that the institution of the monarchy is fundamentally incompatible with the ideal of equality. Simple as that.

Yeah. In fact, it's one of the fundamental themes of modern western history -- the fight over whether some people are born superior to others, and deserve extra privileges solely because of their "bloodlines". The British royal family is one of many vestigial remnants of that fight. Yes, people worship celebrities, and our governments are in thrall to wealthy corporations; but that's a new fight. It would be nice to see the atavistic bits and pieces of the last struggle working on a dairy farm in Sussex.
posted by steambadger at 8:55 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway, when the results came in, Keating erupted into a fireball of uncontrollable rage that laid waste to most of Canberra, Akira-style, and that's why Howard had to live in Sydney.

KAAAANEEEEEEDAAAAA HOWAAAAAAARD!!!!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:03 PM on April 19, 2011


what, no hate for the house of lords?

It's rather awesome in its current form, actually.It was teh hereditary peerages that were the problem; an ppinted body of life peers works out quite well in my view. The longer I look at the US senate, the less convinced I am that elections ought to be the sole path to power in a democratic republic; on the other hand it could be argued that the US equivalent is actually the judiciary rather than the senate, since British judges don't have the power to rule on constitutional questions in the same manner.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:06 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still don't get how Canadians and Aussies live under an overseas unelected monarch.

We had a referendum, and voted to retain the monarchy. As I understand it, you don't even vote, so what's the difference?
posted by pompomtom at 9:13 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Xoebe, the brief news story about the Queen's 1991 visit to the house of a woman in (the historically black ghetto) Southeast DC linked in your comment is great.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:19 PM on April 19, 2011


I yearn for someone in the US to be able to speak for and about my country the way Queen Elizabeth can speak about hers.

The view from outside sure is weird...


I dunno, I'm meese's age and have had similar thoughts about the Queen. I think she does bring something valuable to the table, but as herself and not necessarily the institution of the Crown, as someone who has been a part of government for most of the 20th century and spoken with every prime minister since Churchill. She's been the UK's head of state though it's transformation from the largest empire on earth to it's post-war participation as a reluctant member of a new European Union.

That's an incredible amount of knowledge and experience for one person to have, and I would think, regardless about how one feels about the monarchy, that would make her a valuable addition to the state. The downside is that all the experience is lost when she passes away and you are left with Charles and the kiddies.

I think having an non-partisan elder in some position of authority (but with limited power) would be a good thing for a nation to have. In the US, the closest we have is putting elderly individuals on the Supreme Court, but that is a hopelessly partisan political body, as much as we tell school children otherwise.
posted by riruro at 9:27 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


pompomtom: We had a referendum, and voted to retain the monarchy.

Well, we voted against the Bi-partisan appointment model Republic, which is not the same as voting to retain the monarchy (though it obviously had that effect). It was a move you would expect from a monarchist PM attempting to stave off a Republic. Keating (or, say, Turnbull should he become PM) would've gone for a referendum on a Republic, which would have a good chance of squeaking in, and then a debate on which model to adopt.
posted by GeckoDundee at 10:14 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


We had a referendum, and voted to retain the monarchy. As I understand it, you don't even vote, so what's the difference?

I do vote. And it rubs me the wrong way that a supposedly independent people are still ruled by The Queen. Still ruled by the Queen yet get Doctor Who a week after the Mother Country.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:17 PM on April 19, 2011


I do vote.

I was wrong. My apologies.
posted by pompomtom at 10:21 PM on April 19, 2011


yet get Doctor Who a week after the Mother Country

So there are benefits, then.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:24 PM on April 19, 2011


Is there a more precise psychological term for "someone who has problems with authority figures"?
posted by shii at 10:25 PM on April 19, 2011


"Teenager"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:27 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


MONARCHY QUESTION: In some Middle Eastern and North African countrries with monarchies, there is a little plus in that (supposedly) if you've got some problems and you're a little guy, you can get a meeting with some local person who is royalty and he gets a stipend with which he is supposed to help poor souls out of their binds, and connections to fix things.

You mean sort of like an ombudsman? I'd go for an ombudsman-monarch -- now that would actually be useful.
posted by e-man at 10:30 PM on April 19, 2011


Is there a more precise psychological term for "someone who has problems with authority figures"?

I don't think Hitch or I or any of the other monarchs have problems with authority figures. We have problems with unelected, unaccountable authority figures. I may disagree with Obama or Gillard or even outright hate Bush but I accept their authority as legitmate. The moncarchy's power is not.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:49 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]



I don't think Hitch or I or any of the other monarchs


er, anti-monarchists.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:49 PM on April 19, 2011


TheAlarminglySwollenFinger [William] captained the water polo team, but wasn't very good at it.

Really? How many ponies did he drown? (Thank you, Billy Wilder)
posted by Skeptic at 10:53 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


TBH I'm not seeing any proposed reasons for keeping the Monarchy that wouldn't be acheived by appointing a block of wood head of state, and it'd be cheaper, so why don't we just do that?
posted by Artw at 11:00 PM on April 19, 2011


You know how the monarchy could end and the Queen wouldn't have to get kicked out and everything would be rainbows and sunshine? If the Queen could leave a surprise in her will where she says it's all done and nobody replaces her. Does the monarchy even have the power to end itself?
posted by floam at 11:03 PM on April 19, 2011


Artw, that is my second favourite model for a Republic. (My favourite does away with the block of wood).

floam, the monarchy doesn't have that power. Parliament decides who the head of state is.
posted by GeckoDundee at 11:05 PM on April 19, 2011


From AskMe: Is there a mechanism enshrined in law by which the British monarchy could be removed by a popular vote?
posted by vidur at 11:12 PM on April 19, 2011


TBH I'm not seeing any proposed reasons for keeping the Monarchy that wouldn't be acheived by appointing a block of wood head of state, and it'd be cheaper, so why don't we just do that?

I've always favoured the "whoever's the captain of the cricket team" model. That should cut across party political lines too.
posted by pompomtom at 11:12 PM on April 19, 2011


I've always favoured the "whoever's the captain of the cricket team" model. That should cut across party political lines too.

You forgot to add [NOT SEXIST].
posted by vidur at 11:20 PM on April 19, 2011


Fair point. We could alternate which cricket team is eligible.
posted by pompomtom at 11:22 PM on April 19, 2011


[NOT BLOCK-OF-WOODIST]
posted by pompomtom at 11:22 PM on April 19, 2011


My hero. I would gladly have Hitch for king.
posted by londonmark at 11:50 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or Stephen Fry or Terry Pratchett or some other Brit we pay to hear speak at the Opera House. They all represent 'Britishness' rather well.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:05 AM on April 20, 2011


A lot of treaties with indigenous peoples in various Commonwealth countries are with "the Crown". What's going to happen to them if the monarchy is abolished? It's not as simple as just transferring them to the state, because the crown (via the Privy Council) represents a way of bypassing the state when the state refuses to honour its obligations.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 12:24 AM on April 20, 2011


I don't think I would want to abandon the monarchy if I were British.

Strictly in monetary terms, the monarchy has value to the nation: it's a large part of the national image and a large tourist attraction. They cost a few million pounds a year, but they bring in a few million pounds a year, probably a bit more than they cost. Asking what they do to earn their keep is a bit like asking what the Lincoln Monument and the American flag do to earn their keep.

Right now, many people around the world are paying attention to Britain only because a future king is getting married. It's in all the papers, in the magazines, on television. Hitchens is just one more person writing about it rather than ignoring it. Positive feelings from this will help Britain when all of the people constantly exposed to this story choose vacation destinations, and when they do get to Britain many people will go to see where kings and queens used to live and where they live now. Tourists pay 15 pounds each to walk through Buckingham Palace not because it is an important state building or a nice building to look at, but primarily because that's where the queen lives. They go to see royal castles, not state office buildings. There's no use arguing why people want to see these things or whether they should want to see these things; what matters is that they are willing to pay quite good money to see these things.

If you empty the palaces of royalty, you'll still end up paying for their upkeep and perhaps have to work a lot harder to attract tourists to them. Or do you expect to sell them off or knock them down?
posted by pracowity at 12:46 AM on April 20, 2011


Should a nation's government structure really be judged by how many people are going to gawk at it?
posted by floam at 12:59 AM on April 20, 2011


If you think the queen determines how the nation is run, you aren't paying attention. Better to ask whether a nation's monuments should really be judged by how many people are going to gawk at them.
posted by pracowity at 1:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


And it rubs me the wrong way that a supposedly independent people are still ruled by The Queen.

You're not, any more than you are ruled by the United Nations or God. The Queen has zero decision power, and 'royal appointees' have virtually no autonomy whatsoever. The monarch is a legal proxy, nothing more.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:30 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I understand correctly, the structure of the government is that the monarch has the right to determine how things are run, they simply don't. I get that somehow people are just cool with that because oh hey if our next king wanted to do stuff we'd totally not be cool with that and there'd be hell to pay. But I think it's totally fair for me to say it's a question of the countries structure.
posted by floam at 1:39 AM on April 20, 2011


It's a nice little earner for the UK even in an average year; London is the world's most popular tourist destination, and tourism accounts for about 10% of the economy and 12% of jobs. This year will be especially profitable.

France gets more tourists per year than any other country, so if we follow the tourism argument through then clearly we need to be lining them up. I'm sure they would be happy to make a contribution to getting the economy out of the shitter.

popping out to the cinema with some mates in ratty jeans.

Prince William was in my local cinema about a year ago, he didn't have any problems by all accounts.
posted by biffa at 1:40 AM on April 20, 2011


Strictly in monetary terms, the monarchy has value to the nation: it's a large part of the national image and a large tourist attraction. They cost a few million pounds a year, but they bring in a few million pounds a year, probably a bit more than they cost. Asking what they do to earn their keep is a bit like asking what the Lincoln Monument and the American flag do to earn their keep.

This fallacy is wheeled out on a perennial basis. The value of the monarchy to the country has never accurately been calculated. Regardless, if there is nothing to recommend Britain to foreign visitors beyond an elite group of unremarkable people born into an inherrently inequitable, anachronistic institution, I suggest our tourist industry would rightly deserve to collapse.

The relative financial value of the institution to the UK is also a tangential issue to the question of whether the notion of royalty has any place in a modern, democratic system.
posted by londonmark at 2:00 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I understand correctly, the structure of the government is that the monarch has the right to determine how things are run, they simply don't.

No, that's not correct. Although there is no single written constitution as in the US, there are multiple constitutional documents which narrowly define the power of the monarch. Parliament makes the rules, not the monarch.

France gets more tourists per year than any other country, so if we follow the tourism argument through then clearly we need to be lining them up.

You're comparing a country and all its beaches with a city. London gets more tourists than Paris despite both being equally accessible, so there goes that argument.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:02 AM on April 20, 2011


Metafilter: But then I'm a fat stupid American, so what do I know.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:04 AM on April 20, 2011


No, that's not correct. Although there is no single written constitution as in the US, there are multiple constitutional documents which narrowly define the power of the monarch. Parliament makes the rules, not the monarch.

So, just to make sure, the part where I thought that no law can be passed by their parliament without the monarch's approval is not actually the case, is undone in some other document, or what?
posted by floam at 2:08 AM on April 20, 2011


London gets more tourists than Paris despite both being equally accessible

Apparently, you are wrong. (And note that the Paris figure does not include visitors to the suburbia, where Disneyland Paris is located).
posted by Skeptic at 2:12 AM on April 20, 2011


Today, 19 April, Prince Charles became the longest serving heir apparent in British History.
posted by bigZLiLk at 2:13 AM on April 20, 2011


Today, 19 April, Prince Charles became the longest serving heir apparent in British History.

Heirloom.
posted by pracowity at 2:16 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, seven of the top ten cities in the Wikipedia table of most popular tourist destinations are located in republics. Mind you, I'm not convinced that table is very reliable. In particular I've trouble believing that more tourists visit Dubai than Rome. But then, Dubai is in a monarchy, and Rome in a republic (even if the Vatican City is its own little absolute monarchy, with the monarch as one of the main tourist draws...)
posted by Skeptic at 2:18 AM on April 20, 2011


God save the Queen, because tourists are money.

And the irony is, the future for kids today seems about as bleak as it was in 1977.
posted by Summer at 2:54 AM on April 20, 2011


I would trade you three Bushes, a Rockefeller and a Trump for one Elizabeth.

I see a lot of complaints about having a monarch, there are benefits beyond tourism and I think she has a lot more influence on the direction of Briton than she is getting credit for. She doubtless has influence through the crown corporation, which is far better run than whatever equivalent we have in the US.

The queen has money, experience, poise and connections, within the country and internationally. She is an uber-diplomat that doesn't have to worry about next election.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 3:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Side note. During the last 30 years, there has never been a time when an American president, vice-president, or secretary of state has not been either a Bush or a Clinton. (The median age of Americans is 35).
posted by plep at 3:24 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


The queen has money, experience, poise and connections

Royal connections - not always a good thing.
posted by Summer at 3:35 AM on April 20, 2011


I would trade you three Bushes, a Rockefeller and a Trump for one Elizabeth.

That's not an argument for the institution of a heriditary monarchy. What if Bush was born king and you had him for the rest of his natural life?

There have been good kings and queens and bad kings and queens, but the institution exists above and beyond indivudal personalities.
posted by londonmark at 3:43 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, just to make sure, the part where I thought that no law can be passed by their parliament without the monarch's approval is not actually the case, is undone in some other document, or what?

No, you are correct, all Acts of Parliament require Royal Assent — that is, the monarch has final approval on all legislation. In practice, this is a rubber stamp, but it is only by convention that the Queen does not exercise her power. See Wikipedia:

"...in modern practice, the Royal Assent is always granted; a refusal to do so would only be appropriate in an emergency situation requiring the use of the monarch's reserve powers."
posted by londonmark at 3:48 AM on April 20, 2011


God Save the Queen!

I spent a summer in Texas once, had a great time. At one point we had a formalish dinner, and I tried to be courteous by toasting the President, as I would toast Her Majesty. Apparently, such a "loyal toast" isn't the done thing over there - do you not have a unifying emblem? Ah, I should have toasted the "United States" as an entity, shouldn't I? You revolutionaries, you.

Final fun: when Her Majesty dies - we hope, of course, never - we get to say "The Queen is dead. Long Live the King!" Which seems a pretty cool toast to me. I plan to wear a black armband too.
posted by alasdair at 4:28 AM on April 20, 2011


Is there a more precise psychological term for "someone who has problems with authority figures"?

Sanity?
posted by steambadger at 4:30 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


What if Bush was born king and you had him for the rest of his natural life?

Actually, I remember saying when Bush II was 'elected': "I wouldn't mind if he were some fuddyduddy prince whose whole job was just to wave and look amiable -- in fact, he'd probably be pretty good at that. But I don't want him to actually do anything!"
posted by meese at 4:31 AM on April 20, 2011


Though the Act of Succession should be amended so that the first child of the monarch is next in line to the throne, rather than the first son. Disestablishment is trickier.
posted by alasdair at 4:32 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Today, 19 April, Prince Charles became the longest serving heir apparent in British History.

What's the difference between Prince Charles, a gorilla, and an orphan?

One is the heir apparent, one has a hairy parent, and the other has na'er a parent. I'm here all week!
posted by kersplunk at 4:42 AM on April 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


@alasdair: "Apparently, such a "loyal toast" isn't the done thing over there - do you not have a unifying emblem?"

It's why we're such absolute weirdos about the treatment of the flag. Closest thing we've got to a "unifying emblem."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:43 AM on April 20, 2011


Subservience to a blood line is one of the most fucking pathetic things I see in monarchists. I'm from the UK originally but have been in Canada for some time as well, and people in both places harp on about "oh it's just a symbol". Yeah it's a symbol, it's a symbol of wealth and privilege concentrated in a narrow band of individuals who have done nothing to earn it, but rather have it foisted upon them due to blood. It's an AWFUl symbol in a modern country and I remain flabbergasted that it retains the support it does, even if it is thankfully dropping.
posted by modernnomad at 5:03 AM on April 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


I became a complete supporter of the idea of an unelected Monarchy around the mid-eighties when I heard someone mistakenly refer to "President Thatcher".

As for throwing off the yoke of the oppressive ruling class. Yeah I'll get right on that shit just as soon as I finish Portal 2.

I am sheeple hear me bleat.
posted by fullerine at 5:34 AM on April 20, 2011


I'm a brit civil libertarian, so the idea of a monarchy - that someone gets to rule the country simply because of who their parents where - fills me with horror. And yet. There are two words that make me a monarchist.

President Blair.

You only have to look at the disfunction of republican systems; see President W. Bush, President Sarkozy, President Putin, off the top of my head to make me realise having a head of state who has no effective power and leaves the actual governing up to the elected parliament is arguably better than the alternative.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:34 AM on April 20, 2011


I'm definitely sick of this wedding, but at the same time I can't help feeling a bit sorry for them. When my husband and I got married last August, it was really wonderful to be treated like real grownups and we got to do exactly what we wanted, the way we wanted it, for our wedding. Best band ever, strawberry tarts instead of cakes, no bouquet tossing, getting punch drunk til 3 in the morning.

Wil and Kate have no such luxury. Every single one of their decisions are prophesied, scrutinized, debated and criticized. How horrible.
posted by like_neon at 5:36 AM on April 20, 2011


Do people realise that becoming a republic doesn't mean that your prime minister would automatically be a "president"? The usual arrangement is to have a separate elected president whose role is broadly comparable to that of the Queen.
posted by nfg at 5:38 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, we realise that. The problem is then you have two seats of power - the presidency, and parliament, i.e. the prime minister. Note; Tony Blair is no longer the prime minister of Britain, but I could conceivably see him come back as President. Uggh.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:41 AM on April 20, 2011


You only have to look at the disfunction of republican systems; see President W. Bush, President Sarkozy, President Putin, off the top of my head to make me realise having a head of state who has no effective power and leaves the actual governing up to the elected parliament is arguably better than the alternative.

As others have pointed out, that does not necessarily imply a hereditary monarchy. There are a number of parliamentary republics, like Germany or Italy (OK, not a good example), with a figurehead president as head of state (Christian Wulff in Germany, Giorgio Napolitano in Italy), and a separate head of government (Chancellor Merkel in Germany, Council Chairman Silvio Burlesquoni in Italy). Typically, the figurehead president is not directly elected, but voted by an electoral assembly of delegates from both chambers of parliament.
posted by Skeptic at 5:56 AM on April 20, 2011


You only have to look at the disfunction of republican systems; see President W. Bush, President Sarkozy, President Putin, off the top of my head to make me realise having a head of state who has no effective power and leaves the actual governing up to the elected parliament is arguably better than the alternative.
It's hard to imagine any monarch who'd be as admirable as Mary Robinson, though.
posted by craichead at 6:04 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


steambadger: "Also: if they're supposed to represent the national character of England, then how come they're German?"

Can we drop this particular line of argument? William was born in England. Charles was born in England. Elizabeth II was born in England. George VI was born in England. George V was born in England. Edward VII was born in England. Victoria was born in England. William IV was born in England. George IV was born in England. George III was born in England.

It is true that George II was born in Germany. He died in 1760. That seems a sufficient length of time for the current royals to be considered authentically native.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:04 AM on April 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Anyway, my preferred form of government is the random absolute monarchy, as presented by GK Chesterton in "The Napoleon of Notting Hill": a random citizen is selected as absolute monarch for life in a nationwide lottery.

Of course, "The Napoleon of Notting Hill" ends in a bloody civil war and the dissolution of Britain in a patchwork of small principalities, so that system may also have some drawbacks.
posted by Skeptic at 6:04 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


You only have to look at the disfunction of republican systems; see President W. Bush, President Sarkozy, President Putin, off the top of my head to make me realise having a head of state who has no effective power and leaves the actual governing up to the elected parliament is arguably better than the alternative.

That makes no sense. A system with a symbolic head of state simply means the effective transferrence of power to the highest elected official. You seem to place more importance in the job titles than the actual roles.
posted by londonmark at 6:35 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I cannot wait for the monarchy to be dissolved, so that all of the queen's vast powers and all of her vast wealth revert to the state. Then you'll see the poor people of Britain throwing off the shackles of royal oppression and joyfully cruising around London in abandoned Rolls Royce convertibles while smoking Prince Philip's private stock of cigars!
posted by pracowity at 6:36 AM on April 20, 2011


It is true that George II was born in Germany. He died in 1760. That seems a sufficient length of time for the current royals to be considered authentically native.

Compare to the Americans whose ancestors are only two-three generations removed (versus William's 10): are these descendants insufficiently American?
posted by grubi at 6:37 AM on April 20, 2011


grubi: "Compare to the Americans whose ancestors are only two-three generations removed (versus William's 10): are these descendants insufficiently American?"

I'm not sure I understand the question. Any natural born US citizen can become president. As to what I personally consider "American," if you are a citizen, you are an American. Period.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:48 AM on April 20, 2011


I'm saying in response to the people who think William is "German".
posted by grubi at 6:57 AM on April 20, 2011


I'm just jealous because I don't get the day off.
posted by brand-gnu at 7:47 AM on April 20, 2011


Apparently, such a "loyal toast" isn't the done thing over there - do you not have a unifying emblem? Ah, I should have toasted the "United States" as an entity, shouldn't I? You revolutionaries, you.

It's even simpler. Unless the formalish dinner was explicitly or implicitly organized around politics or religion, nothing approaching those topics should have appeared in a toast to which everyone is, by courtesy, obliged to participate. A loyal toast, to anything or anyone, is indeed not the done thing. At best, even if inoffensive it would be off-puttingly weird.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:52 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently, such a "loyal toast" isn't the done thing over there

It's not the done thing over here either, at least in my circles! Or does my lack of royalty-toasting dinner parties betray my utter lack of breeding?
posted by londonmark at 8:01 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Elizabeth II was born in England.

And she married a Greek.

George VI was born in England.

And he married a Scot.

Edward VII was born in England.

And he married a Dane (bedded uncountable French mistresses too).

Victoria was born in England.

And she married a German.

William IV was born in England.

And he also married a German.

George IV was born in England.

Also married to a German.

George III was born in England.

And married...guess who...another German.

Of your whole list, the only ones who married English consorts were George V and Charles. And Mary of Teck, George's wife, although born and raised in England, was also of old German stock. I accept your point that calling the Windsors (that is, the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas) "German" is somewhat unfair. But to have them as the embodiment of Englishhood is also somewhat inaccurate (not to mention insulting to all their non-English subjects in the United Kingdom, never mind Australia, Canada, New Zealand...)
posted by Skeptic at 8:06 AM on April 20, 2011


Look, I get that you Europeans are really concerned about ethnicity and blood lines, much more so than us Yanks, but it's possible to take it to a ridiculous degree. The monarchy is very silly, but NOT because they're "mixed stock." That's a feature of having a noble class, not a bug.
posted by muddgirl at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2011


In other words: Mannion is arguing that having a Monarch is an embodiment of Englishhood, NOT that any particular monarch embodies Englishhood.
posted by muddgirl at 8:29 AM on April 20, 2011


Yea, as much as I despise the whole inbred, parasitic, amoral buch of them, it's not because they're a little bit German. That kind of low-level racism is way off the mark and is exactly the kind of geneological snobbery that we expect mostly from aristocracy. I doubt there's anyone in Britain without some kind of mixed European heritage when you dig deep enough.
posted by londonmark at 8:39 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


But to have them as the embodiment of Englishhood is also somewhat inaccurate

With all those ethnicities rolled into one family, I'd venture to call them...

American.
posted by grubi at 8:39 AM on April 20, 2011


Yea, as much as I despise the whole inbred, parasitic, amoral buch of them, it's not because they're a little bit German.

Also, as my list shows, before William, the only one who married a 100% English wife (two of them, actually) was Charles. And boy, did that turn out well...
posted by Skeptic at 8:49 AM on April 20, 2011


londonmark: "I doubt there's anyone in Britain without some kind of mixed European heritage when you dig deep enough."

Exactly. Really, the "authentically" English crown ends in 1066 at Hastings. But that seems a pretty silly way to look at it.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:01 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty silly thing is silly whatever way you look at it.
posted by Artw at 9:01 AM on April 20, 2011


Really, the "authentically" English crown ends in 1066 at Hastings.

Those Saxon and Danish kings that preceded Hastings weren't all that "authentically" English either.
posted by Skeptic at 9:10 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nobody is English. We are entirely the product of successive waves of imigration.
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


"English" is less an ethnicity than it is a culture.
posted by grubi at 9:20 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"English" is less an ethnicity than it is a culture.

Which one, that of lager louts running amok in Benidorm, cricket spectators having Pimm's and cucumber sandwiches under their umbrellas in the English summer, or toffs chasing vermin on horseback in the countryside?

The whole concept of national culture is a sham, just like that of ethnicity.
posted by Skeptic at 9:25 AM on April 20, 2011


As long as we still get to burn people in wickermen to make the sun come back it's all good.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some people are grumpy about this sort of thing, I guess.
posted by grubi at 9:30 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Skeptic: "Those Saxon and Danish kings that preceded Hastings weren't all that "authentically" English either.
posted by Skeptic at 12:10 PM on April 20 [+] [!] [quote]
"

True, but Edward the Confessor and Harold were a restoration of the House of Wessex.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:43 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like they are going for the V for Vendetta look for the decorations... (apologies if this has already been linked up thread)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:46 AM on April 20, 2011


Maybe they could get the BNP to do a nice march in formation under all those flags.
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on April 20, 2011


Oh and there's no way the monarchy is going in the near future, there's far too many people near the top with a vested interested and far too many proles who thing we're special because we've still got a queen
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:47 AM on April 20, 2011


I won't watch the wedding, but considering the most obvious example of republican states (I'm thinking the US and France in particular), I'm pretty damn glad to be in a country with a monarchy. It keeps the celebrity nonsense away from government.
posted by Kurichina at 9:54 AM on April 20, 2011


Oh and there's no way the monarchy is going in the near future, there's far too many people near the top with a vested interested and far too many proles who thing we're special because we've still got a queen

BE HAPPY, CHUMPS!
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on April 20, 2011


Yea, as much as I despise the whole inbred, parasitic, amoral buch of them, it's not because they're a little bit German. That kind of low-level racism is way off the mark and is exactly the kind of geneological snobbery that we expect mostly from aristocracy.

My apologies. I spoke snarkily, and failed to disclaim.

I was in no way arguing that the Royals should be pure English stock. My comment wasn't entirely snark; I also intended to dispute claims above me that the monarchy somehow represents the Spirit of Britain, or some such thing. Monarchy has rarely been about national pride, although national pride has often been drummed up in support of monarch. Royalty and nobility are trans-national institutions; and, for as long as kings and queens really mattered, they were more often motivated by their own interests and the interests of their class than by the needs of their countries.
posted by steambadger at 9:56 AM on April 20, 2011


The whole concept of national culture is a sham, just like that of ethnicity.

What do you mean? How is ethnicity a sham?
posted by The World Famous at 9:56 AM on April 20, 2011


Granted I live under a rock, but the wedding is delightful for kitschy attempts to cash in, from the ultimate fridge to the commemorative cock ring (NSFW). I'm wondering if there's going to be a Pez dispenser following Carrie Fisher's immortal words on the subject.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:04 AM on April 20, 2011


to the commemorative cock ring (NSFW)

My first reaction: NO THEY DIDN'T

My second reaction: who collects cock rings?
posted by londonmark at 10:30 AM on April 20, 2011


Cock fighters.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:36 AM on April 20, 2011


We also have White Castle, Bruce Springsteen and straight teeth. - jonmc

I dunno, I've been to Appalachia. Didn't see that there.
-Guy Zero

Ha ha, silly people of Appalachia...too poor to afford to visit the dentist. [/stereotype]

I know this is about a day late, but really?
posted by Atreides at 12:45 PM on April 20, 2011


I know this is about a day late, but really?

How is it more offensive than stating that British people have bad teeth?
posted by GuyZero at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


to have [the Windsors] as the embodiment of Englishhood is also somewhat inaccurate

Dunno. Immigrants and the children of immigrants. Certainly sounds like the England I'm glad to live in.
posted by Grangousier at 1:03 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


How is it more offensive than stating that British people have bad teeth?

Making fun of poor people for having bad teeth is worse that making fun of wealthy people for whom it is a complete mystery as to the reasons for their teeth situation.
posted by floam at 2:02 PM on April 20, 2011


Which one, that of lager louts running amok in Benidorm, cricket spectators having Pimm's and cucumber sandwiches under their umbrellas in the English summer, or toffs chasing vermin on horseback in the countryside?

The whole concept of national culture is a sham, just like that of ethnicity


Do you mean for every nation? Or are we only going to reduce the UK to tabloid caricatures?
posted by Summer at 3:13 PM on April 20, 2011


Making fun of poor people for having bad teeth is worse that making fun of wealthy people for whom it is a complete mystery as to the reasons for their teeth situation.

You think all British people are wealthy?
posted by Summer at 3:16 PM on April 20, 2011


Dunno. Immigrants and the children of immigrants. Certainly sounds like the England I'm glad to live in.

I always thought we were a mongrel, patchwork nation. But it seems that people move around a lot less than everyone thinks. Some estimates say that 3/4 of our ancestors arrived no later than 7,500 years ago.
posted by Summer at 3:23 PM on April 20, 2011


You think all British people are wealthy?

No, but many more Appalachians are poor, and the bad-teeth confirmation bias thing often applies to well-to-do Britons.
posted by floam at 3:31 PM on April 20, 2011


(I'm not even sure that they really do have worse teeth on average in the well-to-do ranks, mind you. It could just be the stereotype and confirmation bias plus the low sample size of real English people us Americans see that drives it. But I did know an English dude that said he thought Americans had better-looking teeth, and that it's less common for children over there to have cleanings as regularly as we do here, as well as cosmetic dentistry, and most people don't receive fluoridated water.)
posted by floam at 3:38 PM on April 20, 2011


Do you mean for every nation?

Obviously, if that wasn't clear enough. All nations are collections of individuals with wildly different characters and interests, and often surprising ancestries. And that actually enriches them. This is also why fixating on a single, rather particular individual or even family as a symbol for the whole nation is so absurd.
posted by Skeptic at 4:00 PM on April 20, 2011


But I did know an English dude that said he thought Americans had better-looking teeth, and that it's less common for children over there to have cleanings as regularly as we do here, as well as cosmetic dentistry, and most people don't receive fluoridated water.

If it makes you feel better to make shit up to justify your bullshit stereotypes, knock yourself out.
posted by GuyZero at 4:15 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hitchens himself, in an old article linked on Metafilter, said he had been amazed at how good American teeth were, and made some reference to 'dark and crumbly British fillings', then went on even to rhapsodize about how eager he had been to get blowjobs from American girls with perfect mouths. I got the impression he regarded those mouths virtually as composed of matter in an unfallen state as though it had been left over from the Garden of Eden.
posted by jamjam at 4:32 PM on April 20, 2011


I always thought we were a mongrel, patchwork nation. But it seems that people move around a lot less than everyone thinks.

My reading of the article* suggests that although people were coming from all over, they didn't (to coin a phrase) "swamp the indigenous population" as people thought they did. Or as the article put it "Neither [the Anglo-Saxons or the Celts] had much more impact on the British Isles gene pool than the Vikings, the Normans or, indeed, immigrants of the past 50 years." But there was definitely a cultural impact from each wave, just not as extreme as historians like things to be.

I would certainly pick the Mongrel Nation myth over the Pure English myth, for lots of reasons. Myths are sometimes useful. It certainly fits the part of South London I live in (though I accept it's not so descriptive of Penzance or Norwich or Gloucester or Durham).

*And I'm not pretending I'm very bright, so I could be wrong.
posted by Grangousier at 5:07 PM on April 20, 2011


The whole concept of national culture is a sham, just like that of ethnicity

What? You're going to have to back a wild assertion like that up, friend. I'll grant that 'race' is a concept with no meaning, but national culture and ethnicity are shams? Ethnicity I might even grant you, if you had a well-presented argument to support yourself, maybe, but national culture? Have you ever been anywhere outside of where you live? Global media is eroding it wherever it appears, sure, but it's no sham.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:17 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this more or less silly than the fuss over the Brangelina baby?
posted by bq at 6:49 PM on April 20, 2011


I think nation-states often work pretty hard to create a national culture, but they're generally only partially successful. Official "national cultures" usually mask big cultural divisions within the nation-state and persistent solidarities that have nothing to do with the nation-state. I wouldn't say that national cultures are a sham, but they're not nearly as straightforward and all-encompassing as they seem.
posted by craichead at 7:05 PM on April 20, 2011


Is this something I'd have to speak English to understand?
posted by mingo_clambake at 10:38 PM on April 20, 2011


Have you ever been anywhere outside of where you live?

Let's see: so far, I've lived in five different countries, visited some twenty others in four different continents. So I guess the answer is yes.

Anyway, I may have been unnecessarily provocative. Nation states, through the education system and mass media, do tend to create a common set of cultural references among their nationals. However, in my experience, this "national culture" is a pretty thin varnish compared with the depth of cultural references associated with your age, gender, family, profession, social class, educational level, etc. Basically, what craichead said.

As for ethnicity, while not everybody has such a varied genealogical tree as the British royals, humans have always traveled and slept around. Genetic research often reveals pretty unexpected ancestries. Like which sports team you support, ethnicity is more a convenient tag to separate "us" from "them" than a concept grounded in reality. In fact, some of the most bitter ethnic rivalries are between groups that are virtually indistinguishable by outsiders (see Northern Ireland, former Yugoslavia, Belgium...)
posted by Skeptic at 10:56 PM on April 20, 2011


Huh. My experience has been similar, having lived (by which I mean stayed for anywhere from 6 months up to more than a decade) in 8 countries outside my own, and visited about 30 others over the years for days to months.

Perhaps you mean something more specific or technical by 'national culture' than I understood. It is true, though, that the frequency with which nation-states coincide with language groups or streams of cultural or historical continuity or what-have-you is pretty low. It's always more complicated and more messy, and nations are, more often than not, arbitrary lines on the map.

I'm very much agreed that when people use words like 'race' or 'ethnicity' or 'religion' or 'culture', they are very often deployed in service of an attempt, conscious or otherwise, to designate an 'other' in order to prop up the nasty old human tribal impulse -- group membership defined in terms of those who do not belong to that arbitrary group.

And I would further suggest that in modern, developed nations, the idea of a 'national culture' or 'ethnicity' is more pernicious than not, more often than not. It's the fodder of rightwing racist demagogues.

Here in Korea, where I've lived for more than 10 years, the amount of unquestioned loathsome blather about 'pure Korean bloodlines' and the like, and the amount of idiotic triumphalism -- makkoli (rough rice wine) has 100 times the amount of good chemical x compared to red wine, and therefore we are better than France, or kimchi cures SARS and the common cold, we have a unique culture and that makes us not special like other groups but special-as-in-better -- leaves me extremely cold, because it's based in large part on ignorance of and preconceived notions about 'foreigners'. Thankfully this like much else is changing here, but.

But all that said, I do strongly believe that, judgments of value aside, the sheer and excellent fact of modern cosmopolitan populations notwithstanding, Canada and America and Australia do have, if not 'national cultures', then 'national characters' perhaps, that are very different.

And nations like, say Korea and Japan and Indonesia, to pick two much more monocultural nations and one that is far more polyglot and varied, have wildly different sorts of cultures. I don't think that's in dispute.

However, in my experience, this "national culture" is a pretty thin varnish compared with the depth of cultural references associated with your age, gender, family, profession, social class, educational level, etc.

Well, I'm not so sure about that. I think that if you chose a person of comparable age, gender, family, profession, social class, educational level from Canada and compared him or her with someone from America, the differences between them would be fewer than the similarities, but if you did the same thing with someone from, say, Germany, and then someone from, say, Japan (choosing relatively rich, developed nations in each case), the differences would increase wildly. I'm not sure what the best words to describe that would be.

So perhaps it's a matter more of nomenclature than anything else. Maybe we need new words -- maybe those words already exist, but I don't know them -- to describe the realities, words that haven't been co-opted by those who have something to gain by dividing us.

I apologize for the snark earlier, but what I heard you saying (which you may not actually have been thinking) was the kind of thing that I really only tend to hear from people who haven't or don't want to come to grips with the complexity that actually exists in the world.

You clearly have, and do.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:27 PM on April 20, 2011


More Regretsy: The Pappa Johns pizza portrait.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:07 PM on April 21, 2011


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