How can you be a Marxist and a Monarchist asks one of my favourite posters? Good question, and not one to which I have a logical answer.
I’m not sure I’m a Marxist these days or if I ever was, though I did once go along to a meeting of Militant Tendency in Deptford High Street. It was one of the best nights out I ever had, though a tad bizarre because I had come straight from the office and
was wearing a suit, my ‘look’ in those days was Sue Ellen from Dallas, tory woman eeek! Regardless, within moments I was drinking pints and singing ‘The Red Flag’ alongside my comrades in arms. To be fair I didn’t know the words to the Red Flag at that time, and was pretty clueless all round.
I don’t think I’d label myself as anything these days, there doesn’t seem to be any clique I would fit into even if I wanted to. I am far left in most things, but surprisingly conservative in others. In the interests of self preservation, enough people hate me already, I think it best to unravel my clash with mainstream beliefs bit by bit.
Royalty. Hmm. As an amateur historian I am obsessed with the lives of the monarchs through the ages, and of course every age is defined by it's monarch, Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian etc. Basically because nobody ever wrote about poor people because they are boring. Sadly it is as it is, but in its favour it has given us fascinating glimpses of times gone by and usually with beautiful costumes and in opulent surroundings. I'm being a tad flippant, apologies, but I'm still luxuriating in Versailles, I've watched series 1,2 and 3, but have gone back and am watching it again! One of the advantages of being as nutty as a fruitcake is the ability to drift away to another time and place.
I am fascinated by the monarchy, but I'm not sure I'm a monarchist. In my younger days I was captivated by the French Revolution, the spirit rather than the bloodthirsty outcome, stirred me up to fight for equality, mostly in wine bars in a loud voice. Usually in reply to 'how can someone like you support Arthur Scargill'. I have actually written dramas based on real people who lived through the reign of terror that I really must submit somewhere. One of my heroines is the bare breasted ‘Liberty’ leading the people, a painting by Eugene Delaroix that I use as my background on twitter. I have called her Adele and brought her to life.
But I digress, I have mellowed over the years. I am still far left, but brave enough now to say I am captivated by the lives of the Royals. Studying history is my guilty pleasure, it is the equivalent of being handed a tray of delicious canapes or watching Seinfeld. Is it possible to be an historian without being fascinated by the lives of the monarchy, past and present?
As I have grown older I find myself looking on our own monarchy more kindly than I ever have. I was genuinely moved for example, when the very elderly Queen turned up to visit the youngsters in hospital who had survived the bomb at the Manchester pop concert. I can’t say I have ever watched the Queen in any depth, but for me that one kind gesture from this fragile old lady changed my opinion on her entirely. Of course, as a left winger, there is much I could disagree with or even ridicule, but I don’t feel that way inclined.
The truth is I love the pomp, splendour and ceremony, the gold carriages, even the flag waving. I love that royal weddings and royal babies lift the nation’s spirits. I love that these events are recorded by history and that our descendants in hundreds of years to come will be able to see and hear the faces and voices of those who made it into the history books.
I’m looking forward to the Trump visit. Even his gold toilets cannot compare to the grandeur and history of Buckingham Palace. The only palace Trump ever owned was a casino in Atlantic City and it went bankrupt. The dim witted Donald however, will probably try to persuade the Queen to knock it down and turn all that prime real estate into condos. I’m trying to imagine how that meeting will go and I cannot get beyond farcical.
I really hope the Queen wears a crown and her most spectacular Crown Jewels for the Royal Banquet. How will the Melania and Ivanka jewelry ranges compare? Duchess Kate, a natural beauty, simply sparkles but in a Diana tiara she will outdazzle them all. Duchess Meghan sadly will not attend, a shame really, because her presence would unsettle Trump more than her absence. And on the dazzling front, the ladies of the House of Windsor already outshine and outclass the ladies from the House of Trump.
The new young batch of Royals I adore. As a mum of two boys, my heart broke for William and Harry as they walked behind their mother's coffin. I have since then felt maternal and protective over them and I genuinely like the men they have grown up to be. I am sure their mother would have been so proud.
I agree the monarchy in the UK was getting very close to extinction, particularly after the death of Diana. The 'old guard', the last generation, Prince Charles and his siblings truly believed they owed their position to the divine right of Kings. They demanded strict protocol and deference. There is nothing likeable or endearing about Anne, Andrew and Edward. By contrast, Wills and Harry are their mother's sons. They have stepped down from their royal pedestals (not all the time I know)and have become actively involved in the causes they represent, they don't just, shake a few hands and go back to the palace. They have even shared their own mental health issues. This new generation of royals I believe are 'shock horror' becoming more like their liberal, bicycling, crown wearing cousins in Europe. Happily though, they have been able to preserve the pomp and ceremony, and I hope they continue to do so.
To those who would abolish the monarchy I would say be careful what you wish for. What state announcements (for the sake of history) will take the place of the births, marriages and deaths of Monarchs? History is probably recorded more now with events (and videos) preserving these times for future generations, than the lives of royalty. But don’t think historians will ever define an era by the politicians or personalities who have their moment in the limelight, they will begin with ‘who was the reigning monarch at the time?’.
The young royals I think will rescue the monarchy because they are using their privileged positions to help people in need. Both William and Harry are kind, decent young men who seem to understand the need for the monarchy to be updated to the 21st century. But as I said above, I hope they continue with the pomp, ceremony and traditions and I hope to see the House of Windsor in all it’s finery. If a banquet with a US president, even if it is Trump, is not reason enough to get out the Crown Jewels, I don’t know what is.