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The Crown and the royal family are institutions the British grow up with. Questions about whether the country is best served by them must seem entirely unnecessary, perhaps even offensive. That's because the Crown, the royal family, and hereditary aristocracy occupy a blind spot. People are conditioned to treat them as inevitable facts of life.
It was surprising that in late 2021 the mainstream media published survey results indicating that the majority of British adults under 25 are sceptical about constitutional monarchy as a form of government. Over 60 percent of those who responded were in favour of Britain becoming a republic.
Some journalists will report the truth, so the Monarchy and those who describe themselves as royalty can occasionally receive negative press attention. Is it the increasing international embarrassment that is leading young adults to consider an alternative future?
Most of the virtues and benefits of republican democracy are self-evident. It is an imperfect solution to the problem of how a society can be organised, but it has features that make it arguably the best system presently available. In particular, there are checks and balances through a genuine division of powers, and the people of a republic can elect their representatives, including their head of state. Everyone is eligible to be a candidate for that leadership role, not just the members of one hereditarily privileged family. The majority determines who represents their nation at all levels of government. Most importantly there is an element of competition between candidates to formulate viable ideas or strategies for the use of a country's resources, and their duty is only to the people. By comparison, Britain's members of parliament are required to take an oath of loyalty to the monarch if they want to take up the seat they have been elected for. This is one way that the will of voters is subordinated to that of an unelected official. Would most of those prepared to take that oath also take one to an effigy of Caligula if it meant they would get influence and access to lobbyist lucre?
Another way that monarchy undermines the democratic process is by giving an unelected person real authority. The monarch inherits powers that can be used without the need for parliamentary support. He or she can act alone to appoint a prime minister, and summon or dismiss a Parliament, but may also be able to make laws, pardon convicted offenders, make treaties, declare war, or block legislation by refusing royal assent to bills* footnote. It is not clear exactly what a monarch can do without a written constitution. If any powers were used His Majesty's judiciary could rule on the outcome, or His Majesty's armed forces could just be ready to enforce it. Australia's constitutional crisis of 1976 was ignited when the governor general used the Crown's powers to dismiss the country's prime minister. It is ironic given that year was America's Bicentennial. One former colony was embarrassed as a virtual dependency while the other went relentlessly forward as a republic.
The prerogative powers are a nuclear option that can be deployed to secure almost any result needed. That is why the establishment will do everything necessary to preserve the monarchy and the sanctity of the royal lineage. This blatant exception to democracy and the supremacy of Parliament exists owing to the force of social proof. While the majority of people go along with the principles of hereditary privilege and authority, monarchy is an effective (if blunt) instrument for smashing predictability into the distribution of wealth and power. The ecological catastrophe we are facing inciates how the imperatives of that system justify the irrational use of resources.
In Britain the division of powers is illusory if all powers are under the umbrella of the Crown. In 2008 Her Majesty's coroner ruled on the possible involvement of Her Majesty's secret service in the death of Diana Spencer. It is Her Majesty's government and Her Majesty's opposition. The puppet show has a lone puppeteer. Punch versus Judy ad infinitum. If Parliament ever posed a threat to the establishment the most dramatic option is that the Monarch can quietly wheel the show away, and replace real patriots with traditional puppets.
For a people who have a proven commitment to democracy the persistence with constitutional monarchy seems odd. Britons have demonstrated the maturity to adhere to the outcome of a 2016 referendum that was decided with a narrow majority. Why do they tolerate an unelected head of state with real powers, and a chamber of unelected hereditary or appointed aristocrats in Parliament (The Lords) who can frustrate the intent of elected representatives?
It may be because the British have internalised a mind‐numbing array of double standards and contradictions: Monarchy and democracy, enforced deference and recognition for accomplishment, nepotism and competition based appointment, or convention and written law, to name a few. These concepts are treated as being compatible when it makes more sense to insist they are mutually exclusive. It is so overwhelming that people will tell you everything is fine, no matter what evidence they are presented with. They are so stupefied by non‐sequiturs that they allow members of the royal family, with their gigantic carbon footprints, to give sermons about the environment. If it were possible to refine that level of hypocrisy into energy it could power the galaxy. They get away with it because it is considered terribly rude to notice. Be warned that if you want to fit in when you arrive in this country, suspend your critical thinking. Remember it is expected you will go along with everything. Use your stay as a chance to perfect your outward compliance.
Most Britons are brainwashed into believing that the Crown is synonymous with justice. Of course, nothing signals fairness and equality quite like having a monarchy and an aristocracy as fixtures in your national constitution. Perhaps the most obvious double standard is the selective application of laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, because the head of state is potentially always going to be from one overprivileged white family. Is that consistent with a policy of diversity? If not, the establishment seems to be arranging the wagons of ethnic exclusivity in a circle. Any legislative program for racial justice that applies only to the masses looks suspiciously like divide and conquer. Exclusion and discrimination in education or the labour market is continually displaced, never eliminated. Generating discord in a society is the ruling clique's oldest dirty trick, perfected during the days of empire, and being used in the last campaign where it might continue to work. The British are selectively blind to divisions based on ethnicity and family background that effectively constitute segregation. They are too busy trying to negotiate a rigged system.
Under the Empire's "order of races" doctrine, royalty was supposed to represent the pinnacle of human evolution. That is an extreme conceit. Even now it is nearly impossible for the British to dial back. It is difficult for them to feel embarrassed in this context. Identification with oppressors is a crippling national affliction. Ignorant establishment attitudes are perceived as the norm. They are associated with wealth and glamorous lifestyles. Most people (supposedly mainly those in the over 25 age group) only listen to information that confirms their derivative sense of superiority. When they open their mouths the culture of privilege and exclusion speaks.
Britain’s royal family serves one main purpose. It is a paradigm of selfishness; the personification of self‐interest. Its members receive money, and keep it to themselves. This family is the most visible example of the effortless inheritance and persistent retention of privilege, property, wealth, and influence. The defining qualities of the British are avarice and parsimony as a result of having that model of behaviour imposed on them. Being both greedy and stingy is the kind of impulse combination that should be eradicated by natural selection, but it is artificially sustained by the example of the monarchy and the aristocracy. These institutions are an evolutionary dead end; an ugly cul-de-sac for humanity. Even the two sanctioned virtues the British are permitted have an element of condescending stinginess about them: charity and tolerance (as opposed to generosity and acceptance).
If people are groomed from infancy to accept monarchy and aristocracy, a pattern of predictably inherited opportunity slithers under the radar. The inheritance of property, wealth, celebrity, and influence is enabled without anyone ever asking whether those advantages are deserved, or whether they will be used to promote wider social benefit. The consequence is that it justifies the inheritance of disadvantage without any reference to an individual's gifts or effort.
One member of the royal family always succeeds, as the monarch, to the role of Britain’s head of state ‐ with the powers already described * footnote. Aside from the obvious problem with this, there is a more insidious danger. If people are socialised to believe that a person with no special aptitude or qualifications for public office is fit for it, are they being trained to silently accept the inheritance of every other leadership role or profession? Is this the template for Britain's rejection of merit and reward for failure culture? It starts with Eaton and Harrow because these schools treat family connection as a qualification for entry into the professions ‐ they are the first level of the establishment training path. If you ignore that the system is unjust, it is still just wasteful, and what volatile cocktail of character defects does it take for a person to persist in a role for which he or she is ill‐equipped? Equal parts hubris and denial? Yet the circus never leaves town.
If people accept roles they cannot perform as well as others might, the value and potential of those who are rejected is wasted. Mediocrity is simultaneously rewarded. In fact, monarchy is a way of ensuring mediocrities can be promoted without challenge. Subscribing to the lie that a person can be born to lead or enter a profession is proof that a people are destined to be outperformed by societies that are more meritocratic. If the British can be induced to believe one fiction, is there a limit to how many absurd notions they can be lead to believe? Meritocracy, on the other hand, requires dedication to facts. It demands integrity, self-discipline, character, and honesty. Measurable achievement has to outweigh popularity or relationship connections. It is difficult to implement, police, and enforce that system, but it produces the best outcomes. Arranging occupational mobility according to family background or other social connection can produce inefficiency. Once again, forget the injustice of it, just do the math. Humanity is better served by intellect than primitive instincts. Reason is more productive than knee‐jerk reactions.
What many of the talented and gifted people of this country could contribute will remain a mystery under these conditions. The voices of people opposed to the establishment have been whispers compared to the loud proclamations of those who endorse the status quo. What new ideas and concepts are suppressed if the endless rehearsal of antiquated nonsense is predictably rewarded? Why should anyone try to advance the culture when their words will be ignored? As the problems facing humanity increase in complexity we need to hear from people who can think ten steps ahead, not merely the one step required to defend established interests. These are protected at the expense of the majority and the environment. At least if you organise elections for every civic leadership role the wrong people do not retain power merely because you are royally hypnotised. Elections invite scrutiny; monarchy is a veil. A democratic presidency requires voters to exercise a conscious choice; succession is a fait accompli.
Is it any more reasonable to trap a family in high‐profile roles than it is to trap many more in poverty? Both are limitations on personal freedoms. Monarchy is as much a strange restriction imposed on individuals from birth as is the contention that others are "commoners". Should these practices be banned under conventions for human rights? The mind job is so deep that Harry and Andrew might lose some titles but remain princes. Is that supposed to prove that being a prince is a real thing that cannot ever be lost despite wrongdoing? Is it a genetic reality, like blue blood? Or is it just an affectation that proves they come from a family who have routinely had affectations thrust upon them? There can be sympathy for accidental confederates of the ruling order.
The demonstration effect of limited choice is a way to make people accept their own lack of options, and incline them to identify with those trapped in luxury. The puerile and effeminate keeping out game need never end if the people's empathy can be leveraged. Ultimately those prepared to call themselves royalty take one for the team. They are used as decoys for Britain's legion of oligarchs and plutocrats. If a successor to the throne had the strength to cast off their indoctrination so he or she could abdicate and dissolve the monarchy, that person would achieve authentic greatness. They would approximate the stature of a figure like George Washington after he refused a third term as President of the United States. In turn they would be a worthy candidate for being the first elected president of a British Republic. Imagine that scenario, but don't hold your breath. It probably isn't in the Windsor wheelhouse. Greatness is not inherited.
Royalty is a monolithic scam that hides in plain sight. It is a deception that sets a precedent for the intentional mismanagement of resources. The quiescence of the British is tantamount to complicity. As beneficiaries of the establishment's historical plunder the people are caught in a cybernetic web that is the envy of autocrats and greedy misers all over the world. How much longer will the majority be wilfully blind? How much longer will the rest of us have to endure the nausea and shame? How much longer will reparations for slavery and atrocities be deferred? Arguments like those presented above are not new, but struggle for traction amongst the people who would benefit most from the founding of a republic. This includes anyone without a connection to the establishment, whether through birth, or sycophancy. Even more have a delusional belief they are connected.
Britain is now only a shrine of imperialism, but it could be a dynamic modern republic. It could be a democracy that protects equality of opportunity for every child while working co‐operatively on global solutions to environmental threats, poverty, conflict, and disease. Do we want people with the best minds working on these issues or just those with a prodigious sense of entitlement? Intelligence is not predictably inherited, although title and advantage clearly can be.
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* If you suspect the list of powers is false please follow this link after copying and pasting it in your browser address bar: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/LLN-2019-0156/LLN-2019-0156.pdf or access a copy downloaded in April 2022 on this site: Prerogative Powers of the Crown (opens new window or tab).