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February 23, 2005

Hail Hell to the King (and Queen)

I've been following the wedding drama with Prince Charles and the British Royal family lately, not because I have a huge interest in it, but largely because I can't seem to avoid it. The coverage of Charles' upcoming nuptials with Camilla has been all over the web.

For those of you who have been able to avoid the drama, Prince Charles, ex-husband of Princess Di, is getting married to Camilla Parker Bowles, his long-time love. Bowles is probably the reason Charles and Di got divorced in the first place.

Evidently Charles and Camilla want to keep the marriage low-key, so they've decided to be married in a civil ceremony in what amounts to a town hall. This so infuriated the Queen that she isn't going to be in attendance. Evidently the Queen is worried that

"...by having the service in the local town hall, the last vestige of the mystery of monarchy will be smashed forever.

I've got news for the Queen. The "mystery of monarchy" was more than smashed when your son admitted he was envious of Camilla's tampon. If that wasn't enough, it was done when Prince Harry suited up as a Nazi. I could point out other instances in which the "mystery of monarchy" disappeared in what amounts to a puddle of vomit in the gutter, but I think I've made my point.

All this coverage got me to wondering why the hell the Brits keep the "royal" family around. What's the point? Quite frankly they're a collection of embarrassing parasites, and I'm not excluding Queen Elizabeth from that statement. She makes up in snobbery what she lacks in morbidity.

I don't know how much the royals cost the Brits in tax money annually, but I'm guessing it's in double-digit millions of pounds per year. Is it really worth the upkeep just so you have stories like this to read all year long? I'd be interested to hear any justification for the royal family from those across the pond, or anyone else who has an opinion to share. As an American, the very thought of a constituional monarchy thriving on the tax...pounds...of the citizenry kinda' pisses me off. (I won't get into a debate that the American Presidency is becoming more of a "royal" privilege these days, but the case could be made.)

I'm hereby starting a movement to abolish the constitutional monarcy! My aim is to have the royals taken off the dole and actually sued for back rent. Let's face it. Any millions or billions of pounds they have in assests were basically stolen from the British people. I for one would love to see the Queen, Prince Charles and all the other Royal Embarrassments getting up to go to work at the Sanitation Department every day. Forget Iraq and the Middle East for a while. Let's look a little further west and bring democracy to the British!

Posted by Kehaar at February 23, 2005 11:10 AM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

I think you argument with the British Monarcy would hold more water if you were British. They are treated equal to the way we treat celebrities or ex-presidents who like interns. I think we should go after Amy Carter. You know she gets tax money some how because of her dad. I want by check!!!

Posted by: Scarecrow at February 23, 2005 11:26 AM

I won't argue that point with you, ScareCrow. I heartily agree that Americans have the same problem with celebrity. I don't have a problem with past American President's collecting what basically amounts to a retirement check, however. And while the celebrities in this country don't necessarily deserve as much money as they make, at least it's not tax revenue that they're collecting.

I would have a problem with the children of past President's collecting actually tax dollars. I know it costs the country a few bucks in security details, but I think those are probably justified.

And I'm aware that I might think differently of the royals if I were British. My goal is to either be enlightened by the Brits as to why the monarchy is worth it, or open their eyes to what a huge, monumental, embarrassing bunch of losers their royal family happens to be.

Posted by: Kehaar at February 23, 2005 11:31 AM

So, tell us how you really feel, Kehaar.

I personally am indifferent to them. They are a drain on the public purse, sure, but the argument could be made that they are also a revenue generator (in terms of tourism, etc.)

They don't embarrass me as a British citizen, but I'm hardly proud of them either.

They can be counted on for amusement from time to time (particularly the Duke of Edinburgh, who is never shy about making some outrageously racist comment about whichever country he happens to be visiting at the time.)

Removing the monarchy would probably be more trouble than you might have considered from a legal point of view.
The UK has an unwritten constitution; I'm sure that the removal of the Royal family would force us to write one, which then opens legal cans of worms about the constitutionality of any given situation.
"Sure," you might say... "Bring it on, it works here." and you'd be right, but I think the average Brit doesn't want things Americanised any more than the already are - particularly legally speaking.

In addition, the British are very fond of tradition, and that's something that's not easy to overcome.
I honestly think that if a referendum were to be held today, the majority of people in the UK would vote to keep the monarchy, but they wouldn't really be able to give you a reason why.

Posted by: Oxyscot at February 23, 2005 12:10 PM

Thanks for the input, OxyScot. I knew you'd be good for a little insight. I did consider the tourism aspect, but I think you could draw tourists to the history of the monarchy without actually having the monarchs. I'm also guessing they sell a ton of newspapers, magazines, etc. That probably squares the deal as far as benefits to the economy.

I didn't realize that the UK constitution wasn't a written document. That is problematic, but that also might make it easier for the Brits to hold a referendum on what to do with the royals. I agree with you that no one likes the Americans telling them how to run their country. Americans, however, are damned keen on telling everyone how they should. I'm just keeping with that tradition. :)

It would be interesting to hold a referendum on the matter no matter what the result. I'd like to see what percentage of the population would vote to dump the bast...royals.

Posted by: Kehaar at February 23, 2005 12:19 PM

I'm not a Brit, but one of the rationales sometimes cited for the monarchy in Sweden, Holland, Denmark, etc is that it separates the ceremonial aspect from the administrative aspect of ruling. In other words, the monarch can do all the fun stuff like christening ships, visiting disaster areas, and holding ceremonial dinners for heads of state visiting from insignificant third world countries while the prime minister sticks to the serious business. Of course, in the US, the president is expected to do both. Some value there, I suppose, but only the locals could say whether it is worth the cost.

Posted by: vanveen at February 23, 2005 10:34 PM

Good point, vanveen. I think "whether it is worth the cost" is the appropriate question to ask. Doesn't the British PM still handle some of the ceremonial garbage? I don't follow British politics as closely as I might.

And, yes, the U.S. President does spend an inordinate amount of time doing photo ops and feel-good visitations. That's why we have men like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove to actually run the country. :)

Posted by: Kehaar at February 23, 2005 10:44 PM
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