It has been a strange elongated weekend to be a Briton with no emotional attachment to the monarchy. Being reigned on by a non-executive ceremonial sovereign in a fetching spangly-hat-and-cape combo is not one of my personal hobbies.
I have no objection to other people indulging in it, and am fully aware that not being a fan or follower of Britain's leading medieval-themed hereditary reality TV show probably puts me in a minority in my country. I prefer cricket. Others prefer Queens and Princes. Some like a bit of both, or nothing of either. Each to their own.
This is not to say that I spend 18 to 20 hours a day dreaming wistfully of a revolution. I would, on balance, rather that we keep the monarchy. I like democracy, and if there was a vote on the monarchy, which there probably never will be, Britain would vote overwhelmingly to keep it, and democracy itself would thus dictate that we retain an unelected head of state. Before shrugging to itself and muttering, "Oh well, them's the breaks," and acknowledging that democracy has not covered itself in glory in recent times.
The monarchy and the concept of genetically-inherited celebrity awesomeness may seem bizarre anachronisms in a mature 21st century democracy. But the facts remain that (a) Britain is not a mature 21st century democracy, as a cursory glance at any Prime Minister's Questions will testify, and (b) the alternative - a President Blair, or Thatcher, or Beckham, or Merkel, or Abramovich, or Cowell ‒ is frankly too awful to contemplate on a stomach still full of Union Jack Battenberg cakes. Bizarre anachronisms have a place in the 21st century.
The monarchy remains one of the planks of the national identity raft that British people can cling to in the choppy waters of the modern world. If they want to. They might like to cling to our sports teams instead. Or our cultural heritage, as the nation (or collection of nations) that has produced, in the last 4000 years alone, Dylan Thomas, Seamus Heaney, the guys who built Stonehenge, and the Bay City Rollers. Or our selectively observed tradition of being madly in love with democratic freedoms and human rights. Or our scientific, philosophical, and commercial history, which have culminated gloriously as one in The Apprentice: You're Fired on BBC2. Or even our proud, almost sacred, position as the spiritual home of the fried breakfast. Or a pick-and-mix combination of them all.
The Jubilee Bank Holiday Bonanza showed that there are millions of people in Britain who do care about the monarchy, with varying degrees of fanaticism. I am sure there are also millions of people in Britain who do not care about it. Similarly, although we are ‒ in this Bread-And-Circuses year 2012 in particular ‒ a sport-worshipping nation, there are still millions of people in Britain who do not care about, or actively dislike, sport. (Tragically.) (Seriously, this is the 21st century, to think that there are millions of people at large who do not like sport is an issue of lasting shame to the scientific community, who should by now have been able to produce some form of reasonably safe medication to treat this grievous affliction.) (This is an issue close to my heart. Members of my own close family are affected by this psychological disease, and remain unmoved even by slow-motion sporting montages set to stirring middle-of-the-road rock music.)
Personally, I view the Royal Family much as a football-sceptic must view the hype and fervour generated by England going to a World Cup. I take minimal interest in it, do not fully understand what the fuss is about, would rather my nation devoted itself to more important matters, and will probably only tune in if it went to penalties. Which it has not done since 1649.
Each to their own. And anything that provides an excuse for a rare outbreak of British people communally socialising in public spaces without having to resort to medically-inadvisable levels of alcohol consumption must be of some worth.
Andy Zaltzman is one half of the worldwide hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver from The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
Andy is touring the UK with Armchair Revolutionary and performing Political Animal at the Soho Theatre. For tickets and info follow @hellobuglers
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