Many a times, I have been asked by my international IDEAL-clients during their IDEAL-English Language and Culture-training in Brighton/UK if I like the British Royal Family.
Well, I have never met them, and despite their immense popularity, I think, they are an expensive anachronism and little more.
Nostalgia and the Royals’ tourist appeal aside, there’s something a bit of a question mark about what the Queen really stands for! After all, British “citizens” are still at least nominally, and arguably legally, considered “subjects” – a leftover, as it seems, of the country’s imperial era. There is no piece of paper that officially designates the British people as “citizens”.
The Queen has always been praised for her “magnificent service”! No one doubts the Queen keeps a pretty punishing schedule of standing in formal ceremonies and visiting schools for a lady her age – but there are a few palaces and a lifetime source of income in the deal for her and her family.
Opinion polls and healthy sales of commemorative junk suggest that Brits and foreigners alike love the British Royal Family. But the Royals may not be entirely good for the country’s image abroad, or its view of itself. Britain still has a reputation as a snooty, class-obsessed place. Colonial arrogance is still very much alive and kicking, as the Brexit result and current negotiations with the European partners clearly demonstrate. The latest Royal visit from Kate and William and their sweet children to Germany was rightly interpreted as a desperate “charm offensive” – their trip was allegedly requested by the British Foreign Office.
What is the case for the monarchy? I have googled to find out that by a margin of well over three to one, British people have favoured keeping the institution over turning Britain into a republic. It is hard, in fact, to find any political question on which the British people are more united, except perhaps their dislike of politicians. That sets the bar for a change to an institution that commands a great deal of affection (think of the millions who celebrated the Royal weddings and the Queen’s golden jubilee) pretty high.
A change to the British constitution which made the Kingdom’s various peoples sovereign and the head of state the guardian of that sovereignty, not the source of it, would be a welcome plank in the more general programme of reform that the British state clearly needs. However, this will never happen! The Brexit-Zeitgeist has further isolated Britain from Europe – what a shame and tragedy!
We, at IDEAL-Brighton/UK, value your opinion on the British Royal Family and Brexit issues. Please drop us a few lines.
As always, best wishes to you from our lovely island!
Peter – IDEAL English Language and Culture/Brighton-UK