Stop Rushing To Defend The Monarchy, Damn It

Goddamn it. And then, of course, there's this:

I suppose it was inevitable. At a certain point with the internet and social media being the festering trash fire that it is, eventually, someone in the United States of America would end up launching a completely unnecessary and frankly bizarre defense of the British monarchy. Let's unpack this:

1. No one is trying to cancel the Monarchy. I promise you that if Queen Elizabeth had a pound sterling for every time people started talking about abolishing the monarchy, she'd probably be quite a bit richer than she already is. Our bullshit dumpster fire of discourse is rapidly ascending up the ranks of "America's Worst Exports" (along with such classics as 'our Presidential system of government' and 'cack-handed attempts at replacing leftist regimes that threaten our corporate interests' along with 'endless ill-thought-out wars we can't seem to get out of!') so stop trying to put our bullshit on an entirely different country that y'all don't understand.

For real: when France of all places is like, "Arrete d'exporter cette merde!" this should be enough to give you pause. But you do you, friends. Get down with your bad selves.

Can I see a future where Australia, New Zealand, and maybe Canada ditch the monarchy and become Republics? Yes, I can.

Can I see a future British monarchy being smaller, slimmed down, and looking more like a half-dozen other European countries most Americans don't realize have monarchies as well? Yes, I can.

This is an institution that's been around for a very long time. It will evolve with the times to survive. It might have to be dragged kicking and screaming a bit towards this evolution, but it will do so. To paraphrase some author- probably Terry Pratchett-  Aristocracy will do what it always does-- trim sails and survive.

2. Defending the Monarchy is profoundly un-American, so stop it. I am flabbergasted that this is coming from places like The National Review and The Heritage Foundation. What country are y'all living in? Have you fallen and hit your heads? Are you okay?

No, really: are you okay? I did not have, the ''America is star-spangled awesome' end of the political spectrum will rush to defend the British monarchy' on my 2021 Bingo Card, yet here we are. I see the brave patriots at Lexington and Concord did not lay down their lives in vain. People: there was a REVOLUTION. Y'all have started a whole Project about it

I will acknowledge that it's not entirely your fault though. Americans have this weird cultural fascination with the British Royal Family that a lot of members of my extended family across the pond find extremely bizarre. Princess Diana Memorial Plates were a thing in this country. They might also have been available in the UK, but I doubt I can think of anyone who purchased one. But the correct stance on the Monarchy that every American should share is 100% utter indifference. We fought a Revolution not to give a shit about any of that, so why are we rushing to defend it now? Why? Why do we care? We don't have a monarchy and if they want to ditch theirs, then fine. Who gives a shit? 

Why can't this country stay in its fucking lane for once? It's not as if we've run out of institutions to destroy and crippling social problems to shout at each other about. 

3. This Article Is Garbage. Dear God, this National Review article is flaming dog shit. Let's just get down to what's profoundly wrong with it. First quote:

The signing of the Magna Carta (1215) was one of the great hinges of political history. The monarchy agreed that no political leader was above the rule of law. The monarchy asserted the principles of due process and trial by jury.

The monarchy did all this because King John was hated by his Barons and was about as popular as herpes. In short, the Magna Carta was signed in spite of the monarchy not because of it. Which is kind of a key point- King John wasn't being magnanimous and progressive here. He was trying to get his Barons to stop rebelling all the damn time.

I will be fair- the Magna Carta did set up the basic principle that the Monarch couldn't govern without some sort of consent from the governed, its analysis of the proximate causes of the English Civil War reads as more or less correct. But don't worry, we're about to tip overboard again:

The British monarchy, despite its often-contentious relationship with Parliament, became an indispensable ally in the struggle for self-government: The Glorious Revolution (1688-89) marked another milestone in constitutionalism.

...okay. Go on... don't know about the whole "indispensable ally" thing, but go on.

To most Britons, William of Orange was not an invader. The real invader was James II who, after ascending the throne, trampled the ancient English constitution underfoot. The new monarchs, William and Mary, came to restore it. They committed themselves- as Protestants rules, submissive to the authority of the God of the Bible- to obey the laws of Parliament. They agreed to limit their own powers and defend the principle of government by the consent of the governed.

WHAT? Holy Missing Important Details, Batman. Once again, the writer of this article presents a profoundly inaccurate and misleading version of events. It's a bit more complicated than a blog post because it really is a fascinating revolution- but the short version: James II was a Catholic King in a Protestant country that had been through a century of sectarian strife. He suspended both Scottish and English Parliaments and ruled by personal decree. He launched an assault on the Church of England that led to anti-Catholic riots and eventually a broad coalition of politicians got tired of his ass and went and found a Monarch they could live with.

William and Mary didn't just show up, swords in hand, ready to restore Constitutional government. They were invited. That invitation by Parliament/politicians/the people, whomever- is what was the real Constitutional milestone because it locked the Monarchy into the principle of governing with the consent of Parliament. I don't know what would have happened if William and Mary would have been like, "no, brah, we ain't gonna do that" but William wanted extra money and resources for his Dutch war against France so it was all very politically convenient and again, it happened in spite of the Monarchy and not because of it.

My favorite is probably the last bit: 

Decades before the United States faced the issue head-on in the Civil War, the British monarchy led the world in the abolishing of the institution of slavery.

[Insert hysterical laughter here,] 

Well, I suppose in the sense that the Acts of Parliament required Royal Assent- which was given, of course, thus avoiding a Constitutional crisis, I'll give partial credit here. But Parliament and the people did that. The Monarchy did what was Constitutionally expected of them and said, "yeah, okay."

I will make allowances here. If it turns out that George III, George IV, or William IV openly campaigned for abolition, I'll withdraw my objection to this- but given the fact that William IV was the last monarch to appoint a Prime Minister contrary to the will of Parliament, I'm not holding my breath. 

The idea that being the Head of the Church of England somehow grants the Monarchy extra credit for folks like Wilberforce and the other abolitionists is thin and frankly laughable  Ponderous institutions like Churches tend to be reactionary before they're progressive. 

The rest of the article trots out the tired old arguments about British imperialism being better than the other kinds of imperialism which (eye roll) okay, fine. I wonder if the colonial subjects the British Empire ruled would share this perspective? Not likely.

The rather large omission in all of this is that universal suffrage and advances in mass democracy took damn near a century in Britain. It also glosses over the Interregnum, Oliver Cromwell, and influential movements like the Levellers and the Diggers to focus on... the Monarchy. 

In short, I can't believe someone got paid to write this and I can't believe The National Review actually published this shit.

4. No I Didn't Watch The Interview And I Don't Care: Harry is an excess Royal. The British tabloid press is horrible and can be fucking racist in ways people in this country would find profoundly fucked up-and that's saying something. His mother died in a horrible car crash being chased by paparazzi. If he wants to leave all the bullshit behind and move to America to get some peace and privacy for his wife and family, then more power to him. I don't care. While some backasswards and unacceptable notions about race in the Institution of British Monarchy wouldn't surprise me, I think it's also worth sitting with the idea that maybe British people don't like Megan Markle because she's well...  American. 

It's kind of like hillbillies. You can have the Hatfields and the McCoys going on- but if you as an outsider marry into those families or you as an outsider start being all like, "well, they're stupid and racist and shouldn't be allowed" well then all them hillbillies are going to join forces and tell you where to go and it won't be a particularly nice place to visit. British people are allowed to hold the Monarchy in a certain amount of contempt. Foreigners aren't. 

Maybe the Monarchy will be abolished- eventually. But unless you're going to fundamentally alter the nature of British democracy, you'd be trading a hereditary ceremonial figurehead for an elected one. There's a President of Germany. There's a President of Israel. There's a President of India. No one outside of those countries can probably tell you who any of those people are, because they're largely ceremonial. "But it's the principle of the thing!" People cry. "We want to pick our own Head of State, damn it!" Okay, fine- but we do that here in America every four years and I can say with absolute certainty that it's not all it's cracked up to be because we fuck it up on a semi-regular basis. 

In short, please stop fetishizing and rushing to defend the Monarchy. It's weirdly un-American and profoundly cringy.

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