Getting in touch with my inner Cromwell

John Rentoul

mug 300x230 Getting in touch with my inner CromwellMy interest in, and knowledge of, the royal family is limited. This mug was roughly at my pre-wedding level of information. The wedding was quite interesting, and I am all for street parties, but I thought the refusal to invite Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was a spiteful act by an institution that cannot forgive Blair for having rescued it after the death of Diana in 1997.

I have written about it for The Independent on Sunday. I thought Blair showed a bit of class in his response – from Colombia! – which was the best rebuke:

I’m delighted for the royal couple. It is completely sensible to invite people from different walks of life instead of politicians. [Was he was offended.] Absolutely not at all. It’s not an issue and I wish them every happiness.

Brown has not commented, but Sarah tweeted this 24 hours after the event:

Gorgeous dress. Exquisite music. All good wishes to happy couple.

I have long been a republican, on the rather narrow grounds that I cannot abide the idea of Charles as king. It was always hard to deny, though, that the Queen was popular, so I adopted the compromise position that she should be allowed to see it out. Then there are the boring practical obstacles to ditching the monarchy, renaming the country, changing all that stationery and rewriting a lot of laws, not to mention the dullness of an elected president.

My anti-royalism had been sublimated for some time, therefore, into a reluctant constitutional monarchism. We might as well leave things as they are, if that’s what people want. That’s the New Labour view, isn’t it?

The fuss over the royal wedding has brought out my old views like a rash. The mean-spirited insult to Blair was decisive, but it was not the main reason for my rediscovery of principle. The real argument against a monarchy remains, naturally, the insult to us as a democratic people of the hereditary principle. There is an ingenious egalitarian argument for that principle, repeated this week by the economist Chris Dillow, a former supporter of the Militant tendency. It is that “monarchies remind us that our fate in life is due not solely to merit but to luck, and thus increase public support for redistribution”. To which my detailed refutation is: like as if.

No, the important argument against the monarchy is the one that I think Martin Amis expressed, with his usual prescience, perhaps three decades ago, which is that it is a form of child cruelty. It is not fair on those born into this dysfunctional celebrity-show, or deceived into it as Diana was. Membership of the royal family is a cruel, unusual and arbitrary punishment, and is therefore contrary to the Geneva Convention. The monarchy should therefore be struck down by the Supreme Court.

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  • dh48

    I’m sure that the only way any woman could keep sane if married to Charles would be to have lovers – the more the better.

  • Chalcedon

    If only Cromwell had had better successors who adopted the republican principles he had. Unfortunately we did not adopt the French approach of a later time and get rid of all those with a vested interest in a restoration of the monarchy. As for remaning……Great Britain and Northern Ireland (should we wish to keep it) is good enough. We don’t require the term Republic adding to it.

  • Chalcedon

    New girl on the block? Sounds a bit Henry VIII to me.

  • Chalcedon

    You are being ironic aren’t you?

  • Sara

    I think it is shameful to listen and comment on other people’s private conversation.

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