Friday 6 January 2023

Just Business as Usual


According to the official constitution (to the extent that such a thing exists) the monarch’s line of descent was chosen by the will of god to rule over us. The historical reality is that the divine will has often been given more than a little human assistance in the form of patricide, fratricide and even infanticide, without an unhealthy dose of all of which the current monarch would not be occupying the throne. Had it not been so his offspring might not be pushing each other onto dog bowls, or, if they did, would attract rather less attention for doing so as members of some minor and largely forgotten branch of the family tree. Avoiding the potentially circular argument about whether killing off family members was actually god’s mysterious way of implementing his will to guide the current monarch into his elevated position, the reality is that the occupant of the throne at any time owes more to the nefarious activities of his or her ancestors than to the divine. History indicates that, by and large, the English monarchical system has a Darwinian propensity to select for murder, treachery and betrayal.

Throughout history, royal personages have attempted to put a positive light on some of their number and a negative light on others; much of what we learn about the history of the kings and queens of England – a history traditionally inflicted upon pupils in Wales as well as in England – is based as much on spin as on historically provable fact (such as Richard III’s hunchback). Modern technology didn’t invent spin or briefing; it merely facilitated and accelerated them. Shakespeare makes Alastair Cambell look like a novice, and King John with a Twitter account would probably have made Trump look like a rank amateur.

That all provides some context for the ‘revelations’ in Harry Windsor’s little tome, to be published next week. (Interestingly, one question which the media seem not to have pursued with any vigour is how the country which gave the world the very concept of mañana managed to steal a march on everyone else and publish the book early.) Listening to Harry’s long list of gripes, it seems that he doesn’t understand that what he is describing when he talks about betrayal, disrespect, and unfavourable briefings is what history tells us is Standard Operating Procedure for his whole family. In fact, being pushed around a bit by a brother who later apologised means that, in terms of his family’s normal approach to business over the preceding centuries, he’s got off rather lightly and made his brother look like a bit of a wimp. Most of William's predecessors would have had the axeman standing by. It makes me wonder what passes for English history on the curriculum at Eton. Or maybe they simply assumed, wrongly, that a living part of that history would already understand it.

1 comment:

Spirit of BME said...

Stories of dysfunctional families receiving benefits bore me to sobs, as I have far more important priorities in life – like sorting out my sock draw. However, it`s difficult to dodge this one.
Of all the items I have read, this post is the best I have come across.
My congratulations.