Tuesday, 23 July 2013

For unto us

My money’s on George William Albert Wayne Jason Tiger Charles. Whatever he’s called, as a committed republican who finds the whole notion of monarchy painfully embarrassing, I ought to object to his predestined role, but to be honest, I can’t be bothered. The monarchy has no power, its prerogatives are an illusion, an allegedly elected prime minister controls the government and kings no longer ride out at the head of their feudal armies. Today’s monarchs are there to cut ribbons and put on fancy dress for state occasions. It’s a rather sad uncreative role to force on a poor baby from its birth. What if George William Albert Wayne Jason Tiger Charles really has it in him to be an experimental physicist? A brain surgeon?  An outspoken crusader against landmines? Tough. He’s doomed to cut ribbons and put on fancy dress, because The People like the monarchy, and they like it especially because it doesn’t mean anything at all.

Not so long ago some people still nursed the idea that the monarchy and all its voodoo paraphernalia did matter, so we had the unedifying spectacle of Prince Charles being mated with an approved young virgin of the right class instead of the woman he wanted to marry because he, and those around him, genuinely believed that the kingdom and the heavens would fall if the genetic purity of the line was not maintained. Now, even the royals understand that the nation would shed many a tear but otherwise would survive without a tremor if the entire Royal family were obliterated, so William was free to marry the daughter of a costermonger  from the Old Kent Road – or whatever. I quite hope George William Albert Wayne Jason Tiger Charles will turn out to be gay and marry a man. That would put a hawk among the hereditary pigeons.

It’s ironic (surely not planned) that the royal birth comes in the middle of the BBC’s production of the White Queen, in which the arrival of royal babies is presented as the source of unmitigated woe and strife. I can only wish that I didn’t make replica antique furniture for a living. Watching the White Queen, all I can do is scream “Why, why, why is all the furniture Jacobean, when it’s supposed to be the 15th century?”  Like Walter Bagehot’s monarchy, it remains a mystery.