Any Republican abhors the antiquated monarcy, fit only for royal gawkers and church goers. The royals have no place in a world aspiring to democracy. They are symbols — but bad ones.
Yet the mummery persists. Prince William, second in line to the British throne, and Kate Middleton were married recently amid enormous hype.
The wedding was a so-what event that the American media treated like the Second Coming.
A plethora of breathless stories, far-fetched features and trivial accounts jammed the newspapers and flooded TV screens. The Wall Street Journal, an otherwise serious newspaper, ran a huge graphic of the parade route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abby.
Hank Stuever of the Washington Post rightly said of the coverage: “far too much fawning from American anchors and hired British commentators.” Or, as the Post’s Autumn Brewington reported from London: “media coverage threatened to eclipse the event itself.”
Vera Wang on CNN rhapsodized over the bridal gown. On ABC Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer beamed like proud grandmothers.
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC gave America four hours of magnificent fluff. A reporter for the Washington Post gushed from London: “I saw her sleeve!” (Alas, she was not being ironic.)
Political commentators talked seriously about the passementerie, the ornamental trimmings on the dress worn by the mother of the bride. No wonder intelligent people don’t watch TV.
The so-called hats worn in England for the wedding were foolishness multiplied by one hundred: flowerpots, lampshades, overturned buckets, salad plates, tea cozies, fezzes, flying saucers and even a pile of feathers.
In America, which overthrew the monarchy 250 years ago, kowtowing reached a new low. The non-event drew 250 people to the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., at 5 a.m. They paid $40 to watch the wedding on big-screen TV.
Even the French, who had the wisdom to abolish their monarchy in 1792, went agog over nothing. Point de Vue, a weekly magazine, sold 750,000 copies of a wedding special. The daily Le Figaro put out a 79-page special.
Some court watchers in Britain say the popularity of William may reinvent the scandal-stained monarchy.
Oh yeah? As Alessandra Stanley put it about the royals in the New York Times: “Lurid affairs, nasty divorces, spending sprees, tell-all books and sell-out interviews.”
We have had pictures of a topless royal, Duchess of York Fergy. Tales of Prince Charles, heir to the throne, regaling Camilla-Parker Bowles with off-color jokes.
We had recordings of Princess Diana baring her sexual soul, accounts of her spending $65,000 a year on astrologers, psychics and holistic counselors, and stories about selling her holy relics — castoff clothes — for $3.3 million.
Queen Elizabeth II had a lover at Balmoral during World War II. Queen Victoria, who became an eponym for the prudish Victorian Era, had a manservant who also served as her stallion.
Reinvention will hardly save such a shabby institution.
The royals are privileged leeches, spongers and freeloaders. They live extravagantly, never earn their esteem, foster elitism and encourage snobbery.
The royals cost the British taxpayer $130 million annually, $60 million in upkeep and $70 million in security. The game is not worth the candle.
This “blessed realm” that Shakespeare apostrophized in “Richard II” is riddled with a sub-royalty of lords, dukes, marquesses, duchesses, earls, viscounts barons, knights and other such tosh.
Britain’s barristers (lawyers) and judges still wear those silly wigs that Chief Justice John Marshall had the republican wisdom to abolish in America 210 years ago. Britain still has the archaic House of Lords with peerages inherited, appointed and granted to ecclesiastics of the Church of England (Anglican).
The British, unfortunately, cannot do without the “pride, pomp and circumstance” of royals and hangers-on to titles of nobility.
The William and Kate folderol provoked pagentry, parades, horse-drawn gilded carriages, opulent dress, a coveted guest list of 600, fireworks, parties in the streets and a million Brits with nothing better to do than line the streets of the wedding procession.
And then there was the sickening spectacle of sales of royal souvenirs. Anna Whitelock, historian at the University of London, writes: “The royal family has become the ultimate British brand.”
Just as many people need religion, many people need the false glamour of the royals. The monarchy is a feudal folly, a vermiform appendix.
Yet three out of four Brits espouse it. As usual the majority is wrong. The monarchy should be abolished.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.