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God Save the Queen

God Save The Queen

written by Mark Piggott

I have a confession to make. In 1981, aged 14, I almost killed the Queen. I was on holiday on a tiny island off the Scottish coast with my father and his family; as we sat on a pebbled beach eating sandwiches, to our bemusement a small boat approached the shore and Elizabeth II disembarked. As her flunkies spread the bathing towel, my fingers closed round a rock: then my dad’s fingers firmly grasped my wrist. I looked at him in surprise: after all, I thought we were against the Monarchy?

Dad shook his head.

“There will be snipers everywhere,” he whispered. “Throw it and they’ll shoot.”

Looking back, I’m not sure I’d have thrown a rock at that old woman in her biddy headscarf—even if she did represent all a teenage Anarchist like me claimed to hate. I put down the rock; the Queen ate her swan sandwiches; her Corgis crapped on the pebbles, and she was rowed back out to The Britannia, her personal ship, anchored offshore. She left behind a little yellow bowl which for years after we used to crap in—our holiday home didn’t have anything so as grand as a toilet. I’m glad I didn’t throw that rock at the Queen’s head. If it had brained her, I’d have felt a bit guilty.

Why, you ask? Because I never thought I’d say this, but my country needs the Monarchy. This Road-to-Damascus conversion to Royalist came as a shock even to me. I can’t trace my family roots as far back as Queen Elizabeth II–hers extend to ancestors who fought giants and dragons—but as far back as I can remember, we’ve always been Republican. (Not in the Amercian sense–MAGA, Uzis for babies, nuke Mexico—but in the Brit sense.)

I admit it’s taken me a while to reach this conclusion. The fact that this entitled family who live in Palaces and ride golden coaches like something from a bad fairy tale can claim millions in tax-payers’ money, actively interfere in politics, screw underage girls trafficked by U.S. billionaires (Andrew), pontificate on Global Warming as they zip round the world in private jets (Harry/Meghan), while the press fawn obsessively over their clothes, babies and demented views on religion (Charles), architecture (Charles again) and  holistic medicine (yup), seems weird even to us—let alone you guys in the U.S.

The thought of the Monarchy being dissolved now is exciting, tempting, but also terrifying. Whatever else my country has had to endure—Wars, Plagues, Adele—the Royals have been there, providing a sense of permanence we need now more than ever. 

It’s hard to explain to a foreigner—or even ourselves—the ubiquity of the Windsors. In the UK, everywhere we go, we are confronted by the Queen. She’s on every stamp, every coin, every newspaper; every time we turn on the TV we see her vaguely disapproving face as she shakes hands with plebs (always wearing gloves to prevent her catching anything), hear that godawful anthem before every sporting occasion (as we sang at school, God save our gracious queen… spread her with margarine) and on Christmas Day she addresses the nation on subjects close to her heart: family, community, and the dimensions and mind-blowing actions of her favourite sex toys. (I might have made the last one up). 

But now, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Queen Elizabeth II, the sixth-longest reigning monarch of all time, is 93: and there is the very real possibility that soon the sun will set on a remarkable reign that began in 1952, when rationing still existed, Donald Trump was six years old in flesh as well as intellect, and most Brits didn’t own a TV. 

Elizabeth has met 13 Prime Ministers in her 67 years at the top; when historians look back over her reign, they will probably declare ours the Age of Stability. Yet as the curtain threatens to fall, her beloved nation is perhaps less stable, united and content than it has been since the Civil War. Brexit has smashed a wrecking ball through communities, families and political parties; both the leading parties are led by intellectual cretins guided more by ideological fervour than ideas; and there is the very real chance that Scotland and Northern Ireland could soon leave the Union altogether, leaving Little England, this Sceptic Isle, adrift off the coast of Europe with only its sheep-shagging Welsh neighbours for company. How long before they leave too and join Scotland and Ireland to form a new EU-centric Celtic Bloc?

Some commentators have suggested the death of old Queenie might be the time to dismantle the Monarchy altogether: after all, do we really want this divided nation ruled over by King Charles and Queen Camilla? Surely the concept of a hereditary monarchy is an anachronism? Why should the hard-pushed taxpayer fork out every time Meghan wants a Cristal enema? If we really need them to draw in foreign tourists (one of the principal arguments Royalists use), why not stick them in a Downton-themed zoo where we can goad them through the diamond-encrusted bars with sharp sticks? 

Dissenting voices are growing, even in the Loyalist sections of the media. The persistent leaking of stories about Prince Andrew’s underage sex trafficking antics, the Queen giving the wink to the illegal proroguing of Parliament, Harry and Meghan’s redecorating costs, and the Duke of Edinburgh’s dodgy driving, are prompting even monarchists to wonder aloud if it’s all worth it. In a supposedly modern 21st century state, how can one family wield so much influence—simply by being born?

Yet the destruction of the House of Windsor would do more harm than good. For one thing, most of the family’s power is theoretical and symbolic rather than literal. The Royals no longer have absolute power—Parliament put a stop to all that. And, although “High Treason” remains serious–and remained punishable by being hanged, drawn and quartered until the 19th century—the last person to be executed was Lord Haw-Haw in 1946. 

These days, you can say pretty much anything you like about the Royals—and many people do. Taking the piss is a staple of British comedy, even on the BBC; we Brits aren’t half as reverential as foreigners like to believe. Even the death of Princess Diana, in 1997, which stunned the country and provoked another constitutional crisis, was headlined by the Class War newspaper: “One Less Bloodsucking Parasite.” On the day of her death, I milled with the crowds at Buckingham Palace; many seemed sad, distraught, but already jokes were circulating such as: “What does Diana stand for? Died In A Nasty Accident.”

Besides, we tried all this once before—back in 1642—and look how that turned out. My country seems on the verge of civil war already—do we really want to dismantle a thousand years of history, tear down the statues and great houses, without having even a vague idea of what would replace them? Would Britain become a Republic, and if so, who would be President? Tony Blair? David Beckham? Ed Sheeran?

The concept of hereditary privilege isn’t logical. But whoever said the Brits were logical? If we’d been logical, we wouldn’t have chosen to leave the EU. If we were logical, we wouldn’t back our national football team to win the World Cup every four years. We are stupid and funny, violent and loving, small-minded and tolerant (by the way, American friends, the Meghan thing? It isn’t because she’s another Mrs Simpson, a hypocrite, a shit actress or a little bit black—we’re just not that into her). Which is why our Royals are still here after a thousand years, long after all the giants have been slaughtered. You get the Royals you wish for, and ours reflect the way we see ourselves—even if they ARE German. 

The more the Royals try to modernise—the more Woke they become—the less we respect them. We want Wills and Harry to chase birds in nightclubs, not pontificate on climate change. We want the Queen to wave swords around, not drone on about inclusivity. The Duke of Edinburgh is loved BECAUSE he’s politically incorrect, not despite it. We demand caricatures, not real people—because the Royals aren’t “real”; they are effigies we created to remind us how lucky we are not to live in their gilded cage. 

Most families seem pretty normal compared to the dysfunctional bunch over in Buck House. Andrew aside, most of them are harmless. We can laugh at Charles calling himself Camilla’s Tampon, Fergie’s toe-sucking escapades, Princess Margaret burning BOTH feet in the bath, and the good old Nazi Queen Mum with her green-toothed smile, and Edward—well, whatever the hell’s his thing, because they are our national sitcom, our longest-running soap. It’s a mystery to me that Downton became so huge when the people it’s based on are so much funnier, madder, more perverted—and this reality show has been running since King Arthur threw his sword in a lake. 

When Elizabeth does die—and there’s no guarantee she ever will—Charles is next in line, but with the country on its knees the last thing we need now is yet another dotty monarch who talks to plants, interferes in politics and married a horse. With Charles you sense there’s always a danger he’ll end up going mad from some STD and spend the rest of his reign running round the battlements in a nightie. 

Instead, there is a growing feeling here that the Crown should pass over the head of Charles and alight on the balding bonce of William, who with Kate represents stability, sanity and respectability. Wills and Kate are often criticised for being too nice, too boring, and most unforgivable of all, too petty-bourgeois middle class. The British working and upper classes have much in common, what with their love of horse-racing, alcohol, violence and bad wallpaper, as well as their shared loathing of the Waitrose-loving, quinoa-munching, Guardian-reading middle classes. Nevertheless, right now that’s just what the country needs: boredom, duty, stability. If we lose our Royals now, there’s a very real chance our country will fall apart and fade away. 

Bedsides, there’s one thing I haven’t touched on yet: our Royals are as hard as nails. How do you think they acquired all those castles in the first place? Wit? Charm? No: the ability to wield an axe. Don’t be fooled by the Queen’s appearance. Beneath that kindly old woman lurks a blue-blood-crazed psychopath. In fact, if I HAD managed to hit her on the bonce, I suspect she’d have turned, smiled, stuck out her forked tongue, scampered after me on all fours and roasted me on a spit as the rest of her brood danced naked around the fire. Which is pretty much where the Royals started—and where my country’s story really began; with blood and guts on a wind-blasted beach.

Banner image:Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II taken inside Buckingham Palace, London in 2001, photographed by John Swannell

 

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