OPINION: by Max TeichmannNews Weekly
Reflections on the British monarchy
, June 29, 2002
The triumph of the Queen's Jubilee seems to have surprised some people, mainly self-styled republicans, although it should not have.
The overwhelming interest shown by the British public, and not only they, in the life and death of the Queen Mother, ought to have prepared even the sceptics, and the rebels, these virtually without a cause, for what transpired.
The Monarchy is extremely popular, and the Queen the most popular person in England. Tony Blair achieved, in the last British election, the lowest voter turnout since 1931, while Chirac has just recently coaxed out the smallest number of French to vote in the history of the Fifth Republic (i.e., since 1958).
Queen Elizabeth seems to have become another Emperor Franz Joseph - binding together an otherwise divided, culturally disparate, and disillusioned British populace.
The royal system doesn't operate on logic, but sentiment - and of a far more benevolent, agreeable kind than that epitomised by the three hour rock concert.
I was perturbed to find how quickly and how badly many of the people's troubadours had aged. As had their musical forms - fashions really - and the pinball parlour lyrics. Age had withered and custom definitely staled the charisma.
A few pieces of innovation and variety over those 50 years; but masses of recycling and manipulation.
It was like starting to read yesterday's Age
, then realising that it was one of five years earlier. Can easily happen. Very easily.
But the shallowness and ephemera of the whole rock thing stood out. Give me Mr Purcell or Mr Mozart anytime.
But the somatic differences between many of the troubadours and a healthy integrated woman of 76, point up the old lesson that life lived with drugs and booze, insufficient sleep, marriage breakups, all on an emotional foundation of hysterical denial, tortured vanity and play-acting, can be bad for your health and sanity.
Organic foods and buddha sticks can't fix all of that. Yet this is the lifestyle and these are the values directed at the young. Single-mindedly promoted by the media, their advertising directors and the pop/youth culture industries.
But it was a brilliant idea for someone to collect all the Dorian and Doreen Grays of past English show business in one open-air laboratory. But I didn't hear a toast for the plastic surgeon.
It shows how easy it is for the royals to capture the artists, actors, entertainers, and "writers"- without even having to pay them. Whereas the politicians feel the need to bribe them with great tranches of taxpayers' money and endless flattery.
When the Queen allows Britain's bohemians, sporting figures and literary toby jugs to perform in her presence she does them
a favour. Not
vice-versa. Legitimises them while they are in her presence. But not
, vice-versa. And when it is all over, many of them return to the artistic or intellectual knackers yards - where they hopefully await another royal reprieve.
Nothing occurs like this in our party political democracies where the artists and writers have bluffed the pollies and their bureaucrats into thinking that they
are doing the politicians and taxpayers an honour, in taking then wasting, our money.
The public want no part of this - only the politicians and businessmen, their wives, etc., and the gabbling classes. And it all ends as an expensive private
party; too expensive for the masses anyway.
Which is why the occasional and symbolically significant, free
public celebration is such a hit. Such a democratic release. Naturally, our New Classers and privileged freebie-hunters secretly hated the whole thing. Everyone
was getting something.
I heard in an ABC program,as news
, that the British Fabian Society - that powerhouse of cold Creamota - are to organise a conference on the "Future of the Monarchy" and monarchies generally. (Sounded like post-traumatic stress disorder.)
I suggest they send a letter to Malcolm Turnball, c/o HIH or Goldman Sachs, for forwarding.
But our Labor republicans are doing all they can. Victorian Labor are surreptitiously removing royal emblems from public places, without telling or asking anyone so far as I understand (for most people would object).
But what is to go up in place of these royal emblems? If this is to be like the "renaming the streets" operation, there must be a public competition for Victoria's new escutcheon. Something topical and relevant, surely
I suggest ... the usual shield, flanked by a syringe, a bottle opener and a spray can, with two upturned palms, heavily oiled, and balancing stacks of chips; all arranged around the traditional figure, mouth open, and dressed in normal working attire. That is, the cap and bells and chequerboard costume of the court foole - thus symbolising the historic succession.
Just a wee idea, comrades.