The Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was a ceremony like no other. It symbolised an ancient establishment apparently moving with the times. Despite the new levels of diversity, royalty still evokes inequality and excess wealth. It is still as much reliant on spectacle as at any other time in its history, from the pageantry of the Tudors to the spectacle of William and Kate’s marriage. Regardless of current popularity following the wedding, Markle is marrying into the royal family at exactly the time when its entire existence is being questioned.
As the wedding preparations were going ahead, it seemed to be forgotten by mainstream media and the general public that Windsor police were removing rough sleepers and the homeless from the area. Windsor police seized a rough sleepers’ bus and removed belongings, claiming that this was all a “voluntary” procedure and they were not enforcing any strict measures. However, it is hard to believe that Buckingham Palace would have wanted rough sleepers to feature on the steps of Windsor Castle in the publicity photos.
When this is contrasted against the wealth of the Royal Family – as of 2017, it was estimated at £88 billion – it is hard to justify its presence amongst British society. One thing is obvious, this wealth is going nowhere and as long as royalty exists it will continue to grow. The tourism argument is also short sighted – the eradication of the Royal Family will not stop tourists from visiting Buckingham Palace, and Britain’s economy will not collapse when the monarchy eventually recedes into the abyss. One only has to look at France as an example. Hundreds of years on from a bloody revolution, visitors to Paris are still as intrigued by Versailles as ever. Despite France’s republicanism, monarchy continues to make them money, even now.
300,000 people in Britain continue to sleep in the entrances of shops and behind alleyways, whilst the Royal Family have the choice of a few luxury accommodations all with not having to pay for a single penny. The existence of the Royal Family in the face of rising homelessness (cases have risen by 73% in the last year) is a cause for its eradication. People may have sat in their living rooms, marvelling at its sheer spectacle and wonder, when the harsh reality is that its mere existence is symbolic of the rising inequality in Britain.
During the early modern era with the turbulence of religious ideology and its changing currents, the monarchy had a place. It was a period where politics had no significant prominence and there was largely no law and order. Submitting to the monarchy was largely a way of installing stability. Even when Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, Britain was still an imperial power, recovering from the war, without the growing influence of technology. However a lot has changed, we live in the twenty first century. We have a police force, MPs and a Prime Minister. The Queen and any member of the Royal Family is unable to share any form of political opinion, they barely have a voice within British society. Largely, aside from rare cases of spectacle such a the Royal Wedding, they are seen and not heard. Royal Weddings are partly so much spectacle because it is one of the only times they make an effort to ‘connect’ with the public.
The estimated costs for the recent wedding is in the realm of £32 million and Markle’s dress alone was £300,000-£400,000. It looks like the tax payers money is going to some good use. The current state of the NHS, the homelessness crisis and the rise of food banks, is not enough for the majority of the British people who still seem willing to sit back blindly and celebrate a wedding because its ‘a celebration of love.’
Modern monarchy is symbolic of everything that is backward. The British people may endorse them as the providers of tourism and wealth for the country but they are blind. The existence of the monarchy is the existence of tradition and the way things have always been, it is a cushion of comfort and a platform of ignorance in the face of Britain’s rising inequality. The monarchy offers to royalists an ounce of reassurance in a political climate that is vastly out of the public’s hands. Endorsing the monarchy is one thing within their control.
The Royal Family is based on years of inherited wealth. Either members are born into royalty or are married in. There is choice for some, but not for others. It may seem cruel to be born into wealth of that standard, a member of the royal family will never have a ‘normal’ life. They will never be able to drive a car or go on a walk with their dog. Any ounce of sympathy that Britain still has for those ‘unfortunate’ people who are born into the monarchy of no accord should be dissolved, as should the system itself. If Britain is to ever improve its class divisions and wealth inequality as well as everything else – one step in the right direction would be to abolish the monarchy. Evidently, it would not solve all of Britain’s problems, that is not what is being suggested. But the sheer existence of a system so entrenched in privilege and patronage is simply unjust and has no place in twenty-first-century Britain.
“The monarchy is finished. It was finished a while ago, but they’re still making the corpses dance.” Sue Townsend.