...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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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