In light of the events within the last few weeks, namely the abdication of the Spanish king and the recent bout of tours the British queen has taken, I find myself asking “in 2014 why are there still monarchies?”
I will concede that during various points in human history (the majority of those, being darker times) that monarchies did serve a functioning purpose. However during the last half-century or so, the vast majority of monarchies and royal families have served no other function than that of figure heads. Traditionally enjoying privileged lives at the full expense of their subjects, today, thankfully that has changed.
Monarchies in the modern era still receive sums of money and privileges on behalf of their respected states, this begs the question: In 2014, after several years of a global economic downturn, which has caused millions to become poor, starving and homeless, is it just to allow these gifts to continue on the backs of the laborious effects of one’s citizens? Apparently not according to the people of Spain, who protested in their hundreds of thousands with the abdication of their king several weeks ago. Spain has been one of the worst hit countries by the global recession, and the Spanish felt angered and betrayed by the lavish lifestyle of the king. Thus they protested en mass to have their voices heard.
One of the features I find most distaining about the prospect of a governing monarchy, is that the ruler of a state comes along by chance and genetics rather than their personal merits or the will of the people. By this I mean that kings, queens, princes and princesses came about by playing the genetic lottery and winning the jackpot, as opposed to being elected by citizens of a state. At their height and exclusivity during the 17th – 19th centuries the reigning European monarchies could be compared to that of a bag of skittles: there were many but all of more or less the same colours.
In modern times where we value democracy and equality are one of the highest liberties and rights one can have, is it not hypocritical and somewhat Orwellian that “All are equal, but some (royals) are more equal than other”, and solely due to the family they were born into?
When I pose these, what some might call provocative opinions to my friends, I am often greeted with the phrase “well it’s just tradition now, I guess”. What often alarms me, is that some of the darkest practices in human history such as warfare, slavery and religious domination of states were continued for among other reasons tradition.
It would be false to assume, just because a method/idea has enjoyed a certain amount of time in existence it should be allowed to continue. If this were the case mental illness sufferers would still be committed to Bedlam, gay people would be openly assaulted (In Western states) and atheists would be burned at the stake.
Why is it, taking these opinions into account, that people still accept, and are somewhat in awe of royalty in this era? The answer is not quite clear, but is highly linked to our culture. We in Europe and the Americas live in a society that glorifies the idea of celebrity, whether it be actors, musicians, youtubers or royalty. Our major media outlets water at the mouth for the latest scandal or break up story, and…we are hooked on it!
It is want for celebrity and grandiosity that possibly explains why so many in the US watched the royal wedding and the birth of the new prince, despite celebrating with great joy their independence from a monarchy on the 4th of July.
So it is dear reader that we have come to the end of my piece. For bearing with me this long I wish to thank you with a gift. It is that of a poem I wrote, a homage to the works of Voltaire, Thomas Paine and the revolutions of the late 1700s, enjoy:
Our soldiers march bravely, muskets primed in their hands,
Ready to rape, plunder and pillage destitute distant lands.
Our drums, guns and cannon do not thwart the natives’ advances,
While our cavalry charge, gloriously in the foreign sun, blood glistening on their lances.
For empire, crown and country these massacres we uphold,
But not all men desire to be part of such a despicable fold.
I wish not to be a wheel to the oppressors cog,
And as for such I am walked into night’s darkest fog.
I can see the gallows, the hangman and the dreaded rope,
All for such ideas like freedom, republic and hope.
The vile priest whispers his prayers, a last cursed defeat,
From an order corrupted by jealousy, thief and deceit.
So as I stand on the gallows, let it be known to man,
You are my legacy of republic, freedom and equality,
We are all brothers and sisters, alike and human,
Rise up and end this unelected, parasitic tyranny!