UNs a lifelong republican and a thorn in the side of the establishment, I was gobsmacked to receive a letter from the organisers of the Queen’s platinum jubilee pageant inviting me to join the finale on 5 June outside Buckingham Palace, as one of a select group of “National Treasures … celebrated, respected and admired people”.
Che cosa, me? Surely some mistake. As a supporter of the campaign group Republic, I’ve urged the abolition of the monarchy and its replacement by a democratically elected head of state. For decades, I’ve championed a fair deal for everyone, against the elitism and privilege epitomised by royalty.
Ad essere onesti, the invitation was gracious. But I’m mindful that the establishment uses flattery and honours to disarm critics and radicals, and suck them into the system. I declined the invitation.
I do not wish to participate in a pageant that celebrates a monarchical regime based on hierarchy, deference and inherited wealth, status and power. It is a leftover from feudalism that defies modern aspirations for democracy, egalitarianism and meritocracy.
The royals are steeped in a history of war, colonialism and slavery. The crown estate derives much of its assets – including properties and some of the crown jewels – from past royal conquest and exploitation. The true scale of the Queen’s private wealth has never been disclosed, though it has been estimated to run into the hundreds of millions of pounds.
The royal household employs 1,133 persone, and despite commitments to pay the living wage, a recent report by Insider identified that from 503 jobs advertised between 2015 e 2021, 10 were below the living wage e 274 positions paid just pennies above that rate. In lieu of good wages, they are supposed to feel honoured to work for the monarchy.
The Queen has led an exceedingly cosseted, privileged life. She has never known deprivation, never made sacrifices or risked anything, unless you count the danger of a horse-riding accident.
According to the elitist values of the monarchical order, we are “subjects” of Her Majesty, under her dominion. To add insult to injury, the most stupid, immoral royal is, by virtue of the family into which they are born, deemed more fit to be our head of state than the wisest, most ethical commoner. That’s just plain wrong – and offensive.
The organisers are portraying the platinum jubilee as a celebration of the Queen’s reign. But it is also a gigantic public relations exercise and, some say, propaganda for the monarchy; intended to win public hearts and minds for the continuation of the royal regime.
In truth, the Queen is head of a flawed institution that is out of step with liberal, multicultural Britain. The monarch is head of state and this highest public office is restricted to the first born in the royal line of succession. This means that for the foreseeable future, no Black or Asian Briton, no matter how worthy, can be our head of state. Isn’t that a tad racist?
While I doubt that the Queen is a raging homophobe, she doesn’t appear to be gay friendly. As far as I know, the words lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender have never publicly passed the her lips since she ascended the throne in 1952.
Defenders of the monarchy point out that many royal staff are gay men. So what? Having gay staff wait hand and foot on the Queen is proof of nothing, apart from the fact that she likes well mannered, well groomed male servants.
Nel 2014, the Queen congratulated London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard on its 40th anniversary. tuttavia, the letter was a standard congratulation and the quoted wording did not mention the LGBT+ work that the switchboard does. Infatti, the Queen has never been a patron of any LGBT+ charity, despite being patron of more than 600 organisations.
After the 1999 Soho gay pub bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 70 others, she did not visit the bomb scene or the victims in hospital, forfeiting an opportunity to show she cares about the lives of LGBT+ people.
To be ignored for seven decades feels like a deliberate snub. I have written to the Queen and her press office about these failings but received no reply or only a pro forma acknowledgment.
From one human being to another, I wish the Queen well. But I cannot join the celebration of her reign.