The Prince and Princess of Wales are in the US, pressing flesh and sharing with the public their deep concern about warm weather.
At the same time, their spokesman adumbrates the arrival of cancel culture at the Palace, welcoming the brutal, indecent dismissal of Lady Hussey: “Racism has no place in our society.”
Our commentators are falling over themselves hailing the couple for “making the monarchy more modern”. A noble effort, that, but no match for the Sussexes who are up for an award in New York for their “heroic” (and rather lucrative) stance against the “structural racism” of the royal family.
Alas, this sort of thing didn’t start with the younger generations of the royals. The idea that the monarchy must march in step with every malodorous fad extruded by the bowels of modernity was advocated – or at least not contradicted too strongly – by Prince William’s father and even by his late grandmother, God bless her.
A cynic like me is bound to question the sincerity of such sentiments, or at least its extent. And if, as I suspect, the family isn’t wholly driven by genuine beliefs, one has to wonder what else may motivate them.
The answer is fairly obvious: fear. The royals think, justifiably, that, if they walk and talk truly royal, they are the ones who’ll find themselves on the receiving end of cancel culture.
Poll after poll shows that the republican sentiment is weak in Britain. But if you believe such surveys, there is a bridge over the Thames I’d like to sell you.
Yes, the salt of the English earth, the old Tory-voting lower and middle classes, tend to be monarchist or at least not too violently anti-monarchist. But they constitute the silent majority rapidly becoming the silent – and cancelled – minority.
Even their sympathies are fickle, largely at the mercy of swings in public mood. And if, as one can confidently predict, Labour turns an 80-seat Tory majority into a 100-seat majority for themselves at the next election, that will indeed reflect a swing in public mood, not just in electoral fortunes. The vociferous minority is already doing well but, when it becomes the majority, it’ll sweep all before it.
And then the dormant republican sentiment will break through the dam of the erstwhile affection for the late Queen and her husband. I can’t predict the form that outburst will take, only that it’ll put paid to the monarchy as we know it.
I suspect that de jure cancellation is unlikely for a generation or two. But the de facto demolition of everything the monarchy should, and used to, stand for is on the cards.
As it is, I find it remarkable that the dynasty has managed to survive for as long as it has, given the congenital conflict between this institution and the zeitgeist. In a word, the monarchy is fundamentally conservative and the zeitgeist, just as fundamentally, isn’t.
The internal barbarian has emerged victorious in Britain (and everywhere else in the West), and he hates every traditional institution with red-misted ferocity. Unable to demolish them wholesale, he keeps gnawing at the outer edges, burrowing closer and closer to the core.
This victorious type is committed to destruction, which it coyly describes as ‘change’ or ‘progress’. The internal barbarian flashes a beatific smile, hoping that nobody notices the red-dripping fangs thereby bared.
The fangs are systematically sunk into the flesh of the country’s constitution, of which the monarchy is both the lynchpin and the guardian. Exsanguinated already is another lynchpin, the House of Lords, which isn’t democratic enough for the internal barbarian’s taste.
Our comprehensively educated masses nod their consent whenever they hear that, since Britain is a democracy, an unelected chamber is an affront. This is basic political illiteracy, something to be expected from people who move their lips when reading even road signs.
Britain is a monarchy, with the king exercising his sovereignty through parliament. The monarchy is hereditary and hence non-democratic by definition. Its power has traditionally been balanced by the lower House, the democratically elected Commons.
The unelected upper house, the Lords, used to be hereditary too, and therefore presumed free of political pressures. Its function was to keep a watchful eye on the aforementioned balance, making sure neither end shoots up at the expense of the other.
The demise of the Lords that has been under way for several decades and is now for all practical purposes complete has destroyed the balance, creating the dictatorship of the Commons. Democracy, but in fact the internal barbarian, rules, which leaves the constitution without one of its essential guardians, with the other one, the monarchy, finding itself at a loose end.
Divested of much, eventually all, of its executive power, it still has a vital constitutional role to perform, that of providing continuity of sovereignty linking past, present and future generations.
It’s the fulcrum on which the balance of power rests and, like any other fulcrum, it has to remain relatively immobile for the balance to be maintained. In other words, any monarchy is either a conservative institution – or it’s a purely decorative and meaningless one.
Since conservatism of any kind is moribund, not to say dead already, our monarchy lives on borrowed time – and the royal family knows it. Hence its dubiously sincere and definitely pathetic efforts to stay in sync with every objectionable woke fad that comes round the block.
The critical race theory, the global warming fraud, equal rights for every sexual perversion under the sun – bring it on and our royals will endorse it. I don’t know if they realise that by doing so they are signing their own death warrant, but I’m sure some of them must.
One wishes those who do were able to augment their perspicacity with strength of character and moral fibre. But that’s too much to ask of today’s lot, both the rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate. Or, more likely, at his throat.