Here’s David on The Monarchy…
"There'll always be an England."
So runs the famous line.
But maybe it should read "this throne of kings will always be."
That's certainly one of the subtexts of The Big Show.
Understandable given the wave of "we're all in this together" fervour and feeling that the whole country - and indeed much of the world - seems to be riding this week, Countdown Week.
Even the weather seems to have "bought in".
Poor old anti-royalists* - small r republicans - are shaking their heads in despair. Some of them - one suspects - are that close to folding their hands and joining the party.
Which is the cue - very London Walks, this - for turning to the well of history. We turn to the w. of h. 1) because it's interesting and 2) because of the perspective it provides.
So let's amble back a couple of hundred years and "take a monarchy vs. republican 'reading'" in those days.
For the crown it was certainly unsteady as she goes.
As one eminent historian delightfully puts it, people "thought England was driving to a republic. For 150 years the innate English loyalty to the monarchic principle had been undermined by the iconoclastic Whig contempt for royalty and its pomps and gewgaws, by a race of foreign rulers on the throne and during the last four decades by the vagaries and indecorums of the royal family. These had reached their climax in 1821 in the spectacle of a stout, vulgar and hysterical German Queen vainly attempting amid the plaudits of the mob to force an entry into the Abbey at the coronation of her adulterous and bigamous spouse. Since the death of Charles II, the royal England of Elizabeth and the Plantagenets had been transformed almost unknowingly into oligarchy. A sovereign sat on the throne and went through ancient forms, but the aristocracy governed....The real rulers of England were still the greater squires. In the course of a century and a half of splendid, unblushing corruption they had inch by inch pared the powers both of the Crown and of the smaller squirearchy. In the later 18th century, in their hunger for even more land, they had even destroyed the English peasantry."
To take survey: the Whigs are long gone and the "greater squires" are at best a pale shadow of their forbears. They're the ones who shuffle through the "ancient forms" while the money boys do the "governing". As for the other half of the equation -the crown - oi vey, where to start (let alone where does it all end!).
Okay, let's checklist it:
1) Pomps and gewgaws. They certainly haven't gone the way of the Whigs. Indeed, they're more splendiferous than ever.
2) Same goes for vagaries and indecorums. "That" telephone conversation comes to mind of course. The POW - how often must the Prince of Wales (indeed the whole "firm") have felt like a prisoner of Fleet Street's wars! - saying unimaginably intimate things down a cellphone wave to Camilla and the whole country listening in. Squirm. Ouch.
3) Adulterous. See 2).
4) Foreign rulers on the throne. Well, take a fingernail to the House of Windsor on History's scratch card and what you're going to bring up of course is the House of Saxe Coburg. Hell, for some bizarre reason - and largely thanks to his mum's genetic input - Prince William looks like something straight out of central casting for a Wagner opera.
But so what? So what in every sense. Not least historically. In short, as tribes go they don't come any more Germanic than the English. Mongrel Germanic - which is an entirely good thing. But Germanic.
Anything else? Yes. Many happy returns of the day. To all of us. The Big Show is our show as well as their show. Just imagine the thing without the supporting cast and you'll get my drift.
*And let me own up here, I've got a fairly strong streak of sympathy for the UK they'd like to see come into being. I'm the London Walks guide, after all, who said 'no thanks' to a chance to meet the Queen.
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Here’s David on The Monarchy…
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