Recently, Jeremy Corbyn's respectful silence during a service to mark the 75th anniversary of the battle of Britain, was met with widespread criticism. As though some how not respecting The Queen is a more offensive image to people, than the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing unimaginable terror and war. I am no Corbynite, but there is nothing wrong with him choosing to not sing the national anthem, because having a monarchy, particularly as part of our political system, is wrong.
I realise that this isn't going to be popular. I am aware that many British people have a deep feeling of sentimentality for the British monarchy and after reading this will come to the conclusion that I am a joy-less, unpatriotic twerp. But bear with me.
I'm not going to spout statistics about how much money The Queen does or doesn't make for tourism in the UK, whether it's made directly through having a royal family or not. Nor am I going to dispute that she costs 69p per person every year. Nor would I say that she hasn't presented herself with decorum and dignity throughout her reign. Because all of these disputes are a foil, a distraction from the real issue. Having a monarchy is untenable, based on principle.
If we believe in Britain that democracy and living in a meritocracy (i.e.: where people are given jobs based on merit) are core values, where does the institution of the monarchy fit into this? There's the rub; having a royal family is an unavoidable concession to these values. To live under such immense taxpayer-funded privilege, and given the title head of state, purely because you've come out of the right vagina is the definition of nepotism. Whatever people wish to say about The Queen being purely a figurehead, this may be true in law but in actuality, the whole family still has a considerable amount of leverage and influence. It's a well-known fact that Prince Charles has repeatedly written to various governments about policies he would like to see implemented.
If left leaning people, as they often want to do, criticise David Cameron for being a posh toff, why do they then sing the Royal family's praises in the same breath? Whatever my opinions about David Cameron might be, and the fact that he has probably been helped out a lot by his social background to rise to the political level he has, at least he's been elected to that position of power. That gives his position democratic validity, which is more than can be said for the royals.
Make no mistake, we live in a country, which in terms of class, is deeply divided. There is an increasingly bigger gap between the haves and the have-nots. That is not the fault of the royal family; but having a symbol of class snobbery, and undue privilege particularly at a time like this does little to ease these divides and really makes my stomach churn. The Queen opening Parliament a few months ago by telling us all that we must live within our means, whilst dripping in jewels and wearing a crown worth more than my family house is the most ridiculously ironic thing I have ever seen. As sweet and lovely as I'm sure The Queen is (having worked in a care home, I do also have quite a soft spot for elderly people!) there is no question that on principle, her position is untenable. So whilst some people celebrate her 63 year rule, and the media berate a man for standing in silence instead of singing her praises, I think the time has never been better for us to have a proper elected head of state and for Queen Lizzie to hang up her crown once and for all.
This piece first appeared on www.nakedpolitics.co.uk with minor changes.