But here we are, in a deeper depression than the 1930s, with austerity imposed hardest on the weakest, lavishly celebrating our figurehead of British class rigidity…

 

 

Beneath the splendour, the squalor….


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Queen’s diamond jubilee: a vapid family and a mirage of nationhood. What’s to celebrate?” was written by Polly Toynbee, for The Guardian on Thursday 31st May 2012 21.00 Europe/London

The mighty royal jubilee bells will toll their way down the Thames on Sunday on a floating belfry leading a thousand boats, echoed by pealing church bells all down the riverside. Who could miss the spectacle of a hundred tall ships serenaded with Handel’s Water Music played by a floating orchestra?

The more outrageously glorious the performance, the more preposterous its purpose.

There at the heart, in the dead centre of all this pomp and circumstance, is the great emptiness, the nothingness, the Wizard of Oz in emperor’s clothes. The louder the bells, the more gaping the grand vacuity. What are we celebrating? A singularly undistinguished family’s hold on the nation, a mirage of nationhood, a majestic delusion.

How close to religion it is, with all the same feudal imagery, God as Lord and sovereign, sovereign anointed by God, knelt before in a divine hierarchy of power ordained by laws too ineffable to explain.

The tyranny of the monarchy lies not in its residual temporal power but in its spiritual power.

It subjugates the national imagination, infantilising us with false imaginings and a bogus heritage of our island story. For as long as they rule over us, we are obedient servants, worshipping an ermine-wrapped fantasy of Englishness. (Despite the kilts, the monarchy was never really British.)

Every country needs its founding myths, its binding identity rooted in a valiant story that rarely stands up to historical scrutiny. What matters is the nature of that story, and ours is as pitiful as our embarrassingly shoddy national anthem: no U.S. “land of the free”, just “long to reign over us”.

But if the very idea of monarchy diminishes us, the living reality is even more humiliating.

The 'Master Race' or 'Unimpressive Personages' ?

What are we doing paying homage to the unimpressive personages invested with this awe?

They are the apogee of celebrity culture, because there is nothing there but empty celebrity.

Ah, say the royalists, it’s their very “ordinariness” that is their mystique.

But they are not ordinary like next-door neighbours, only ordinary like all the other dull and talentless plutocrats with nothing remarkable about them but their bank balance. That the very rich are mostly very dull, lacking enterprise, initiative or inspiration is small solace.

The long line of royal nonentity is the ultimate lesson in the damage that inherited money and privilege does, the reason why inheritance tax – which the monarchy doesn’t pay – is a way not just to collect funds for the Treasury but to stop the stultifying social effects of inherited wealth.

How well the royal family illustrate the aristocratic phenomenon where those who have had the very best education and the greatest opportunity for intellectual enrichment emerge with so little to show for it, generation after generation.

Hunting, shooting, horses, nightclubbing, none of the long royal line since time immemorial has exhibited much spark of intellectual curiosity or originality.

It is a joyful confirmation of the wonder of the human gene pool that talent, brains and charm spring up at random.

These faculties are no more bred out of a fictional “underclass” than they are bred into a fictional “royal blood”, though social circumstance conspires to knock it out of some at a young age, while promoting others with no attributes to heights they would never reach on merit.

“If royals have any value, they are the living, breathing negation of the myth of genetic superiority.”

The most enjoyable reminder was the Queen’s diamond jubilee “informal” lunch for 20 crowned heads, when the theatre of majesty descended into farce.

If she thought collecting them together would add legitimacy to the bloodline idea, what a mistake.

Bahraini Tyrant King Hamad-bin-Isa-Al-Khalifa

The display of dictatorship and delusion surely must have been devised by some secret palace republican, complete with group photo of the torturers of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and Qatar, alongside dethroned fantasists from Romania and Greece, a showcase of royalty from horror to hilarity, from ruthless to Ruritanian.

With its usual thundering ineptitude, the government chose jubilee week to publish a report on Britain’s social immobility.

Alan Milburn offers a snapshot of a country where birth is destiny more surely than virtually every other OECD nation except the US.

With 83% of new jobs in the next eight years in higher management and the professions, on the present trajectory the odds that many more children from blue collar backgrounds will shoot up the ladder to take them are vanishingly remote.

New opportunities, like the last decade’s extra university places, are taken by dimmer, better-crammed children of a middle class more adept at cementing their children into the upper echelons than ever.

The Gove-nor

The privileged are not about to let them slip down the ladder to make room for others any time soon, and Michael Gove’s selective education policies will help prevent it.

Income gaps stretch wider, as the bottom half has stagnated for a decade. Nick Clegg’s claim that income difference is unlinked to opportunity defies every international comparison: only more equal countries produce more equal opportunities.

But here we are, in a deeper depression than the 1930s, with austerity imposed hardest on the weakest, lavishly celebrating our figurehead of British class rigidity.

The cost of the monarchy, though a hundred times the price of the modestly likeable Irish presidency, is counted not in palaces and royal trains, but in the fantasy of imperial power the crown bestows on British politics.

Punching above our weight, we have just ordered a new Trident to cling to an undeserved UN security council seat from which to hector the world about a democratic idea so weakly applied at home.

Meanwhile, defrauding ourselves and the world’s treasuries, the sun never sets on the Queen’s dominion over more tax havens than any other country, an archipelago of shame from the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Gibraltar, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands – and The City itself.

Beneath the splendour, the squalor ….

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Comments
  • DAVID A SHAW June 2, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Myself and the lady i am carer for are having a ‘ totally ignore the jubilee weekend’ We shall not watch a second of Television, go to any places where union jacks are being waved in total denial of the true state of this country. Instead we shall enjoy each others company, listen to music, watch movies and do interesting things that are the real backbone of reality. The delusion that is taking over our nation this weekend can take others to whatever imaginary rapture they seek, but i and my friend shall stay firm footed in what really is. Equally on the two bank holiday days the same shall apply, and i look forward to Wednesday, when the true facts shall return to those who have chosen to be blinded by an imaginary light. Sadly those who shall be celebrating the most will be those least affected by this governments actions. The above article was superb in showing the truth and what is really going on in this nation. Highlighting that the entire spectrum of opportunity is being weighed by this government totally in favor of those with silver spoons firmly embedded. The opposite of this being that there is a deliberate attempt to create an underclass that shall live at the beck and call of this newly created elite that Gove etc wish to see developing. The policies that are deliberately designed to return us to a past we have long shed should be enough to wake people up to the hideous direction this nation is heading. But sadly not, i am just wondering what will do this, when i am sure at some point i will be presented with the madness of celebrating something that does not unite us, but divides us into haves and have nots, rich and poor, or to put more bluntly in the eyes of those who ‘ rule’ us, we who are blessed and the scum who deserve nothing. That is how they see it and i am now more certain of this than anything.
    REGARDS TO ALL OF YOU
    One day we will have an equal society and we shall all make of it what we can, contributing in a positive and powerful way. Until the notion of individuals perceiving themselves to be better because of inheritance or birth is dismantled, we have a lot of waiting ahead. And as long as the media fosters the delusion at the behest of those who seek to benefit from it, we have a long and arduous journey in which to undertake. But it is one which is worth taking.

  • jeffrey davies June 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

    its not the queens fault she works damed hard thats benefits the country and wouldnt now of many her age who works from morning to night and and puts alot more back in to our country than those greedy politicians giving our moneys away to friends and big companys who inturn put money into thier chest for future use by the torys,would you wanted a president blaire we would have found it hard to bare no i for one now our queen cant do much against her goverments only show her displeasure at them she nows whots going on but her hands are tied .would you think its fun whot she does i can surely tell you you would want to go back to your life not hers its mapped out for them .and not that nice either but camerooon and his buddys and friends are the ones you should be fighten against as they no humanity in them and would see atos and dwp take away our benefits and be paupers without home or food .as for the olimpics i wont be watching as not a sports man and dont agree with them taking the poisened money of atos which rather makes it tarnished games for the disabled people jeff3

  • kasbah June 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    What a profound relief to read something about the Jubilee that is intelligent and well analysed.
    It helps explain many paradoxes in our society e.g. cutting benefits for the weakest and most
    vulnerable citizens while handing out millions of pounds of tax-payers money without question to
    one family. Why don’t more people object? Why does a rational argument with a Royalist produce
    such heated emotion? I will be relieved when the whole vulgar thing is over.

  • Pedro June 3, 2012 at 2:54 am

    I lived in England during the last bit of flag waiving and it didn’t bother me in the slightest because it is England and I was a bit of a bemused foreigner just spectating the strangeness of the sycophantic fanfare.

    This time it is different because I am back in Scotland and I can not believe how many people seem to buying into this and I will have to just baton down the hatches till Wednesday.. Then I will forget all about it till the next time ..

    The irony is though most of the people I have seen “celebrating” today looked like shit and I am not sure that they will remember very much about it and the amount of police I have seen today has been unbelievable.
    It says a lot about the situation here when the police have to be out in such numbers for the celebration of a British Institution.

    If you ever get the chance check out Queens day in Holland at the end of April, It is a really good atmosphere and seems to have more to do with people really enjoying themselves than expressing deference towards a Family of spongers.

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