Today is the Queen’s birthday. Is it her real one or her official one? I have no idea. I do not care enough to find out. It’s not that I don’t wish the queen a Happy Birthday. She’s a human being, and I wish all human beings happiness on their birthdays. But l have avoided all TV news because they will be in raptures about it. Yes, you’ve guessed it; I’m a republican, along with 20% of the population. Maybe you are too?
Like most republicans, I don’t buy into the idea of anyone being my better, and the thought of someone being my better solely by virtue of the family they were born into, strikes me as ridiculous.
In the UK we are brainwashed from birth by our sycophantic media, and our ‘tug your forelock’ culture, to revere the monarchy. My dad was a royalist so I know how it works. But once your eyes are open to the intrinsic unfairness at the heart of this system, you can never close them again. You officially become the salmon swimming against the tide. From that point on you dread any royal events because of the amount of fawning attention that goes with them. You’ll find yourself screaming at the tv, ‘they shit and piss like the rest of us.’ I can assure you it’s no fun being a republican, unless you enjoy being perpetually wound up and irritated.
If you do get into a discussion about republicanism with a royalist you will be stared at in horror, as if you’ve just suggested all old ladies should be round up and gassed just because you feel like it. Then you get all the old chestnuts about tourism. ‘What about Paris or New York!’ you exclaim exasperated. ‘They don’t seem to do too badly without a monarchy.’ That’s when you’ll get the look, the ‘shit, this person is a frigging nut case’ look. I once told someone that no royal attractions appeared on the list of reasons tourists come to visit Britain, until you get to number 20. They gave me such a look of horror, I half expected them to thrust a crucifix in my face and wave some garlic under my nose.
Other arguments I’ve had with royalists revolve around which is best, queen or president. My answer…’do you vote for the queen?’ ‘No.’ ‘Ok, do you vote for a president?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well there you have it; I’d rather have the most democratic power structure possible, flawed or otherwise, than put power into the hands of an unelected family whose relatives just happened to be more psychopathic or narcissistic than ours. To me that is fundamentally wrong, and perpetuates the idea of inherited privilege that should be an anathema to all modern democracies.
Have I converted anyone to republicanism yet? No. I can’t say I have. The conditioning runs too deep for my powers of persuasion. Still, I’ll keep trying. After all, I was once a neutral on the subject, like 20% of the population, and my opinion changed. I can even remember excitedly decorating my Diana/Charles paper wedding plate for a school competition. I was once swimming with the tide.
It’s hard to swim the other way, but it’s nice to know you are on the right side of history. Years from now us republicans will have turned that tide, and we will be proud of that.