Tuesday, 27th August 2013
by Joshua Gaskell
Magnificent Fine China Commemorative Plate of Prince George’s Birth.
– Daily Mail promotion
Now that the emotionally sinister shitstorm has somewhat subsided, I would like to record a comment in response to the ubiquitous and wearying banalities that greeted the birth of George Alexander Louis Windsor, the babe so bonny they named him thrice.
We’re told that the tradition of the monarchy provides us with stability and continuity. With the claim that giving inequality and the class system a symbolic head makes them remarkably stable I cannot argue, though I would demur to calling it a good thing. But the continuity case must be challenged. My argument is not that a diachronic sense of itself is not good for a society, only that the monarchy is not the thing to provide it. It is not an unbroken golden thread, but rather a series of infidelities, rivalries, murders, factions, illegitimates, disputed reigns, disputed claims, madmen, regent stand-ins, invasions, rebrandings, revolutions, beheadings, pretenders, wars (civil and otherwise), coups d’état (and indeed de force, de foudre, de grâce, de main, d’œil, de théâtre), and all the time giving just enough to just enough other people to prevent extermination. The only permanent and everlasting thing about the monarchy is the PR department and its permanent and everlasting line line. Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew and father of public relations, wrote about ‘The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses.’ As John Pilger noted the other week, ‘Bernays invented the term “public relations” as a euphemism for state propaganda.’
If we want something stretching back into the past and forward into the future with which to bind civil society, then there are less debasing and infantilising things to choose from. After all, dissent from monarchism is as traditional as the monarchy. For which reason, if I must have a plate featuring a German royal called George, then I’d prefer Hogarth’s “Royalty, Episcopacy and Law”, in which George I’s Guinea-for-a-head represents the monarchy’s true raison d’être.