September 19, 2022

Some things about the Royals that aren’t The Crown

As in all matters royal, we are dealing here not with pros and cons, with arguments and counter-arguments; we are dealing with signs and symbols, with fever and magic. 

Whenever there’s a Royal event/headline, I am generally confused by the Royalist supporters, defenders, enthusiasts who come out in force. What do the Royals represent? Why are they so meaningful/sacred to certain people? 

Amis’ short piece is worth a read if you find yourself with similar questions. Amis airs an idea introduced by George Orwell in 1935: that the English common people could feel aligned with the Monarchy against the upper classes. It would sound completely absurd to me if we didn’t have our own version of this dynamic playing out in Trumpism and its supporters. 

Amis concludes the piece by saying: 

The Royal Family is just a family, writ inordinately large. They are the glory, not the power; and it would clearly be far more grownup to do without them. But riveted mankind is hopelessly addicted to the irrational, with reliably disastrous results, planetwide. The monarchy allows us to take a holiday from reason; and on that holiday we do no harm.

He seems to chalk the glorification of the Royals up to good ole celebrity worship and the voyeuristic appeal of taking in other peoples’ family drama—but I disagree that on this “holiday we do no harm”. Which isn’t to say that I think they aren’t worth gawking at, I just think the “Firm” and Royal institution should be deified less and subjected just as much to scrutiny, criticism, and an airing of the harms done. So here goes: 

Some things on Meghan

I am sympathetic to Meghan Markle—and I think her story is an important one to take in if we want to try and understand the Royal thing.
Watch the Oprah interview, and then read this profile of Meghan Markle from the Aug. 29, 2022 issue of New York Mag. 
I don’t think the NYMag piece is the nicest, but I felt it took a balanced, slightly sardonic view on her aestheticized feminism, feminism-justified ambition, the extreme control she is trying to exert over her image; and rather empathetically, how this clashed with the Royal family and abusive British media. 

A thing on Diana

I do not like podcasts—it’s just not my medium! However, two very important exceptions to this rule are podcasts created by Jamie Loftus (Lolita Podcast, My Year in Mensa) and Michael Hobbes (You’re Wrong About). In 2020, Hobbes and his co-host Sarah Marshall delved into the Princess Diana story during five You’re Wrong About episodes to show us how the commonly-accepted narrative at the time of her death was straight up wrong. I didn’t know (or care much, to be honest) about Princess Diana before listening to these episodes, but discovered the story is a heartbreaking, horrifying one.
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5

Some Tweets

And finally, we come to some tweets. Concerning the monarchy, they are raw, angry, and express global perspective that’s often excluded in *Royal Fever*:

So, why not “The Crown”?

I haven’t been able to watch much of the Crown, but I’ve seen enough of it to glean the intent of the show: to interrogate the purpose of the monarchy in modern times, and how becoming superfluous has affected its members.

It’s a worthwhile question, and obviously an intriguing one to the general public, as it’s a very popular show. But the TV show has fallen into a bit of the American Psycho effect: when a piece of media raises something up for question/scrutiny/criticism, yet has the opposite effect of enshrining and further glorifying it. How much more did the show add to the media machine and mythology of the Royals? 

To be clear, I don’t envy the Royal Family, and I think it’s a terrible lot to be in. But Royalists seem to believe the Royal Family is more deserving of sympathy than the innumerable, continuing victims of colonialism and imperialism. And to those who claim the Royal Family have no power, then why are you enshrining them? And don’t they have more power than you or I?? What is this recent trend of claiming the powerful are powerless?? I’m still mystified by it all, but Martin Amis has helped a little.