Features Editor Devin Thomas explores the view that the time has arrived for the movement to abolish the British monarchy to become something more than a fun pub conversation for edgy leftists…
Over the summer I wrote a piece for this section arguing that what I termed an era of ‘political ambivalence’ had come to an end.
In its place, I hopefully asserted, we get an age of revitalised mainstream political consciousness, more enthusiastic engagement and activism, and in turn better political representation of the populace’s views.
I attributed this to events including the Grennfell Tower tragedy and Theresa May’s incredible loss in the general election, both of which were such recent and burning examples evidencing my opinion that I was sure I could only be right – British political consciousness was forever changed.
Now, several months later, Theresa May is still in power, blocks of flats continue to burn down across the country, and the spark of energetic and optimistic resistance that flared briefly in June and July feels like it’s died out.
At a time when any and all hope left for those at the head of our country seems to have left us, it came as a kind of hollow final humiliation when we recently found out that our monarch has potentially been evading her tax.
Through her involvement with the Paradise Papers and the revelation that Prince Charles likely doesn’t, but probably should be, paying taxes for his £700 million estate, the monarchy is seeming less like a harmless tourist attraction and more like a scam at our expense than it ever justifiably has before.
When you consider that the royals are worth more than £650 billion- as was revealed in a Brand Finance study recently- but only bring a total of less than £300 million to the country each year (a number which is in itself disputed anyway), the arguments for their continued existence wear thin.
We live in a country in which many people can’t afford things like a place to live, food, or an education.
The corpulence and arrogance we see in the lust for wealth of some, coupled with their inarguable evil in avoiding huge amounts of taxation that would directly help those starving and freezing to death in an era of extreme austerity, is offensive and indefensible.
These are the people who are supposed to best represent British values, and the strength of the people of our country.
And yet, what I see in them is a complete absence of humanity that makes it impossible to see them as role models, or even real, warm-blooded mammals: the monarchs are perhaps the only parasites disgusting enough to make me almost want to believe in lizard-people conspiracy theories.
Our country is not great or strong today because of tax avoidance, selfishness and austerity.
Our country is, arguably, not actually even anywhere close to great in its present condition.
However, the values that are emblemic of the best of our people are the antithesis of those we see in the behaviour of our self-absorbed and wholly uncaring figureheads.
Even if you put aside the idea that our monarchs are avoiding the taxes put in place to benefit those who, unlike them, do not have a £650 billion estate to live off of, there are few arguments in their favour that are particularly convincing.
As the third largest land owners in the UK, they are responsible in part for the horrendous housing crisis: some of their ludicrous amount of acres could surely be put to a better use than hunting, horse-riding and fishing.
If any of this extravagence were privatised in the same way our public services are being, at far less intense rates, there would be no crisis to speak of.
Nurses would be paid, houses could be built and homelessness abated.
Unfortunately, this is not happening. The baffling question is, why?
I almost can’t think of a great answer to this, but here are some hypotheses.
If it’s boring, stale, nationalistic pride in one of our most outdated and archaic institutions- one which history has evidenced need not be respected in any form anyway- then that’s a depressing reflection on our nation’s mentality.
If it’s the blatant misinformation regarding income versus expense and fictional tourist revenue, that leaves not a lot of room for anybody to sustain belief in the general population’s interest in understanding their own exploitation.
If, as I believe, it can be attributed to a weariness of soul that comes with being so continually lied to, exploited and gotten the best of that you can’t be bothered to stand up for yourself any more, then we have our answer. This is the thing that needs to change.
It can’t be seen as an unattainable goal to abolish the monarchy. All of the pieces, as I see them, are in front of us now.
The backlash you’d expect to see against tax evading psychopaths who show disdain for the starving in their own country and swindle hundreds of thousands of people out of a right to life while owning a third of our existing land is missing, and this is the easiest thing in the world to change.
All that’s required of us now is a change in attitude. We can very easily go from our current perspective, one of ‘I guess we’ll put up with it’, to one that tells anybody who will listen that injustices like these are too far, too disgusting and too blatant to take lying down.
I hope now, unlike in summer, I’m correct in believing change is not only imminent, but necessary.