The British royal family are going through a period of relevance after being generally ignored for most of the 21st century as the world grows more and more disturbed by the idea of a monarchy still existing. What’s the best way to keep their image up? Making them fun and quirky, apparently.
From “The Crown” on Netflix to Queen Elizabeth II’s possible death leaked on Twitter via a man named Gibbo in a Whatsapp group chat earlier this week, the royal family is everywhere you look.
A recent example happened at Buckingham Palace’s NATO reception Dec. 3. A video surfaced in which Princess Anne shrugged off President Donald Trump instead of greeting him. This delighted American liberals who took it as a sign of “#resistance” on the part of Princess Anne.
The internet took off with this, praising the princess for her interesting and hilarious life anecdotes. One viral tweet stated: “People are surprised that Princess Anne can hang? That woman once was the victim of an attempted kidnapping and when she was told to get out of her car at gunpoint she said, ‘Not bloody likely.’ A true bad bitch.”
As it turns out, the “bad bitch” in question wasn’t actually shrugging off Trump at all. According to journalist Valentine Low, a journalist at The Times: "Instead the Queen, after greeting the Donald (and the Melania), turned to Anne to see who was next. But there wasn't anyone waiting: Trump was the last leader to be received by the Queen… Anne raised her hands in the air, laughed and said: 'It's just me,' adding a moment later 'and this lot' as she pointed to the members of the household behind her."
Long story short, people are giving Princess Anne far too much credit for an act of resistance that didn’t happen. Even if she did shrug off Trump, it would be ridiculous to label any member of the royal family as a member of any form of resistance.
As an American, or perhaps anyone who isn’t British, it’s a little baffling trying to comprehend how the British monarchy has stood so long when all others have fallen long ago. It could have to do with the longevity of the empire — they’ve never really had anything else. The execution of Charles I during the English Civil War in 1649 was supposed to be the end of the divine right of Kings, but even Oliver Cromwell didn’t have an alternative to hereditary succession. The Glorious Revolution brought them right back to where they started (though perhaps without any more divine appointment of the monarchy. Progress is progress, right?)
That was over 300 years ago, and the monarchy is still strong, but not with the public support Americans might assume it has.
Recently, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested he doesn’t watch the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day, which was disturbing to many Royalists. He has gently criticized the royals a few times during his current campaign and garnered heavy criticism each time, but Labour has a lot of supporters. It goes to show that a large faction of people in the U.K. don’t support the royal family at all. As for the entire population of Britain, YouGov found in a 2018 poll that 69% support the monarchy.
When it comes down to it, many Royalists in the U.K. or fans of the royal family everywhere else are either blind to reality or do not care. They can ignore the fact that the colonial British Empire, everything the royal family stands for, was built on blood and imperialism. They can also ignore the fact that the members of the royal family are simply not good people.
The latest highly-publicized scandal involves Prince Andrew and his connections to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein that forced the prince to step down from his public duties. His disastrous interview left many unanswered questions, especially regarding Epstein’s victims.
This is only the most recent example of a moral transgression by a royal, and there are countless others. It’s notable to mention Prince Philip here, too. The Duke of Edinburgh’s blatant racism is treated by the British as a sort of “public secret,” reported on, but only gently, hinting at his intentions rather than incriminating him — the silly old man is just speaking his mind.
There are many examples of Prince Philip’s public racism, including occasions such as the Prince asking an Aboriginal Australian if he was “still throwing spears” and telling a group of British students in China that if they stayed longer they would become “slitty-eyed.” Royalists, and much of the British media, find ways to look past these transgressions.
On this topic, journalist Hamid Dabashi of Al Jazeera states, “His racist remarks should not be whitewashed or camouflaged. They need to be properly, accurately, and verbatim catalogued in the British Library and made available to future generations of scholars and critical thinkers, anthropologists of the racist foregrounding of European imperialism for careful and close analysis.”
The royal family even has complicated Nazi ties. Prince Phillip’s sisters both married Nazis, and King Edward VIII had strong ties to the Nazi party. This history is even documented in “The Crown,” so one would think that loyal fans of the show, and subsequently the family itself, might stop to think about those implications.
It’s almost laughable how easily those who condemn billionaires and conservative politics in the United States blindly adore the royal family, treating them as silly reality show characters or even resistance icons in regards to how they have treated Trump. Despite how cool and funny you think Princess Margaret or Princess Anne is, this could not be farther from the truth — the mere existence of the British monarchy represents centuries of racist colonial violence and quite frankly, crimes against humanity. It’s time for Americans to understand their complicity in this and help British leftists work toward a future without a monarchy.
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