The monarchy needs to go

Ben Wolford

LEICESTER, United Kingdom — I held off as long as I could on writing a column like this because what I’m about to say is almost sacrilege in some parts of the world.

Parts of this piece appeared in my blog (I was more comfortable writing it there because fewer people read it, and no Britons do). So if you catch some self-plagiarism, sorry about that.

But maybe this needs to be said: England needs to do away with its monarchy, however superficially symbolic, ceremonial or traditional the queen’s subjects claim it to be.

I hate to bash on people’s cultures, but this royalty business has got to go.

I’ll grant that Britons don’t pay much attention to the royal family, from what I’ve seen. Other than in gossip rags, no one really cares what Queen Elizabeth II does. In practice, England operates just like the States: The media and the public discourse is concerned with members of Parliament and the prime minister. But de facto practices aside, the idea that a basically democratic country could still allow royal succession — ceremonial or not — doesn’t make sense to me. The phrase “queen worship” frequently comes to mind from, I suppose, some lingering American revolutionary part of my soul.

To elucidate my revulsion with an example, Prince William is to be addressed as “Your Royal Highness.” I’m sure he’s a great guy, but he did nothing to deserve that title other than crawl out of a uterus, just like I did.

The queen even has a little logo that goes on mail delivery cars and other things royal. It’s a capital E and an R with a crown and the Roman numeral II in the middle. Google it. It reminds me of the LBJ logo for LeBron James, making ERII out to be some sort of brand. Royal succession would never exist in the United States. My friend from France, another nation born of a revolution and egalitarian principles, doesn’t like the queen worship either. If you want accolades and influence in a place where women and men are created equal, you pursue it like everybody else.

(I’ll admit the American ideal of earning the limelight through hard work isn’t always the case: see George Bush and Paris Hilton. But it’s there in theory and constitution, and every once in a while we see a little boy from a broken home and limited prospects become the president.)

Here’s my point in numbers: In 2006 the royal family received almost $70 million from British taxpayers, according to the BBC. That goes toward things like $50,000 vacations for pleasure and million-dollar garden parties.

I’m not a citizen of the United Kingdom, so I have no stake in any of this. To be honest, I regret that I’m falling into the American habit of imposing my liberal values on the rest of the world. I could be wrong, and some people are, in fact, born more equal than others.

Tune in next week for how women were disenfranchised until 1920, why black people had separate drinking fountains until 1968 and why gay people still can’t get married even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says they have a right to.

Ben Wolford is a junior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact him at [email protected].