Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Republicanism vs. monarchism, again

It struck me recently, nearly two years after it happened, that at the 2012 London Olympics the Queen actually pretended to parachute out of a helicopter accompanied by James Bond.

Here's a picture. You don't need it, but it makes the page look more eventful.

Obviously it's a stuntman, not the Queen herself (nor is it Prince Edward having been bullied into it by his father, though that certainly crossed my mind).

Looking back on it, I'm amazed not only that such an obvious gimmick went down largely well with the public, but that the royal family risked it in the first place. Twenty, maybe ten years ago (whenever the annus horribilis was) this would have been unthinkable: just the idea of it would have been laughed off as a desperate and embarrassing attempt to ingratiate by a terminally out-of-touch dynasty, as happened with their disastrous appearance on 'It's a Royal Knockout'.

That the Queen got away with it, and more importantly gambled that she could get away with it, is further proof that republicans are faring terribly in the public debate about the monarchy and offer no meaningful resistance. Perhaps they are so assured of the unassailable moral and ideological rightness of their position, they feel no need to press their argument home - or perhaps they feel there isn't much of a public debate going on right now.

Both are gigantically wrong-headed. The royal family is constantly making the case for its own survival, not openly but indirectly (critics might say insidiously). It's perhaps no surprise that they're prevailing, given that dynasties exist only to ensure their own survival, and this one has been doing it for a thousand years. But republican complacency only makes that job easier.

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