The Monarchy Is On A Collision Course With Society | Andrew Trovalusci
The monarchy is on a collision course with society. By ‘society’ I don’t mean the general public, I mean civil society – polite society. I mean the media-administrative class that gently guides public opinion and whose values are by now undeniably at odds with the principle of a hereditary head of state. Beyond this, they’re at odds with so many of the monarchy’s underlying principles that it seems almost certain now that an enormous political clash is on the horizon.
Firstly, the existence of the monarchy is, at its root, a recognition of the sovereignty of God. Far from being a medieval concept, this was reaffirmed in strength only 70 years ago at the coronation of the Queen. She promised to, among other things, ‘maintain the laws of God and the true profession of the gospel’ and ‘maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant reformed religion’. There is nothing vague about the wording here, and this oath isn’t meant to be inclusive to other faiths. The monarch is both head of state and head of the Church of England. No amount of mental gymnastics can overcome the fact that Anglican Christianity is, in principle, afforded a privileged position to other faiths by its proximity to the Queen and that this is in blatant contradiction with the current multifaith, multicultural orthodoxy.
When the next coronation comes around, the pressure to ‘modernise’ will be enormous – pressure that is unlikely to be resisted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The monarchy will be faced with two options: undercut its own foundations, possibly severing some part of its link with the Church of England, or stand firm, but in direct conflict with egalitarian principles.
Last month’s Meghan Markle debacle was a premature flash in hostilities that brought this issue to the attention of the world. Mrs Markle retreated across the Atlantic and accused the Royal Family of racial bigotry. Whilst Buckingham Palace managed to smother this hand grenade, it now sits beneath them like a ticking time-bomb. It’s almost impossible to see how the monarchy can continue unmolested by the ‘decolonisation’ drive that began in universities but is now sweeping through all aspects of modern life. The monarchy is much more of a colonial institution than either the education system or the police and is a much larger and juicier target than any statue. The accusations were deftly swatted aside by the Buckingham Palace press team, although it was really the Queen’s immense personal popularity that prevented the conversation from being picked up and carried off of Twitter.
There is no doubt about the fact that the bulk of the media establishment – stocked heavily with Blairites – harbour republican sentiments but know that now is not the time to act on them. Cleverly, they’re keeping their powder dry and waiting, because biding one’s time on this issue requires no effort at all.
The monarchy polls well with the British people but it doesn’t have fanatical, militant supporters the way progressive Left social movements do. Few monarchists are working behind the scenes in government to sniff out and destroy republicanism, and republicans can’t generally be ‘cancelled’ for voicing opposition to or mocking the monarchy. It’s easy to make overtures of respect to the Head of State as a formality in public while privately harbouring disdain for the system, and one suspects that that is what many establishment front-of-house figures are doing.
When the time comes, news presenters won’t make their views known, because that’s not how these things work. What is likely to happen is that public opinion will be directed by the structuring of coverage in a way that calls into question certain ideas while asserting others as self-evident. The Brexit debate was an example of this strategy failing: the non-existent lockdown debate demonstrates that the establishment learnt its lesson. Questions will not be asked about how a constitutional monarchy guards against tyranny, the focus of the debate will instead centre around questions of fairness, progress and equality, as most TV debates do nowadays.
The reason this debate hasn’t happened yet is, as stated earlier, because of the public’s enormous support for the Queen. Regrettably though, and hopefully not for a long time, the present reign must come to an end. The next in line to the throne is Prince Charles, a man with far lower approval ratings than his mother. His coronation will lay bare the contradictions inherent to a constitutional monarchy of a 21st-century liberal democracy and the monarchy will not have Queen Elizabeth’s popularity to act as a bulwark. Once questions are asked, the scent of blood will draw back the attention of the American social justice juggernaut and the real pile-on will begin. Already, malicious disinformation tactics have been used by online activists – one even inventing an aristocratic title for himself in order to ‘confirm’ Mrs Markle’s racism story.
There is also the question of on which side of the battlements the Tory party will position itself. Although they stylise themselves opposite the Labour ‘looney Left’, government messaging and the rhetoric of MPs in the Commons rings forthrightly egalitarian (as any regular Mallard reader will know). A far cry from its Jacobite progenitor, the modern-day Conservative party decides policy based more on which way it reckons the wind of public opinion is blowing than in accordance with any set of concrete principles. Conservative doctrine revolves around pragmatic electioneering, often unconvincingly dressed-up as ‘modernisation’ or as ‘changing to conserve’. For this reason, it’s difficult to say whether the Royal Family will find a loyal ally in the Conservative party. The CCHQ creatura is probably already licking its lips at the thought of outflanking Labour and beating them to the equality punch once again. It’s not hard to picture an outpouring of Conservative member social media support for republicanism on the grounds of ‘equality of opportunity’. The final words of the monarchy may well be ‘et tu, Tory?’
Online Royalists typically take the line that constitutional monarchies keep executive authority out of the hands of shifty politicians and result in more stable political systems. They are correct, but this probably won’t matter. The criticism being levelled isn’t that monarchy is inefficient – it’s that it’s inegalitarian and behind the times. All is by no means lost for the Monarchist side, however – fondness of the current Queen might translate into implicit, conservative trust of a familiar and ancient institution. It’s not hard to point out that most prominent republics have troubled and bloody origins. The argument of keeping ultimate power out of the hands of the despised Westminster elite would certainly chime well with the public, if given adequate and fair airtime. Ultimately, what will happen when the unstoppable force of equality meets the immovable object of monarchy is absolutely anybody’s guess. All that’s certain is that the collision will happen soon and the outcome will make British history.