The British Monarchy & the Royal Trumps Remind Us All of the Importance of Democracy
The world is getting tired of overdressed cranky billionaire families
Kutan Ural from Unsplash
Americans of pretty much every race, class and political persuasion are recoiling in disgust that the British royal family would even seriously discuss refusing to give security protection or a title to Harry’s and Megan‘s son because of concerns about “how dark“ his skin might be.
Since our country allied with Great Britain in World Wars I and II, Americans have generally held a favorable view of the British Royals. Books, magazines and even TV shows about them are perennial and predictable best-sellers.
But America just finished a four-year experience with a would-be royal family of our own, which is, no doubt, coloring our perspective on the billionaire Windsors “across the pond.”
Trump not only bragged about his “great genes” (the essential quality of a genetically-based royalty), but installed his utterly unqualified daughter, son-in-law and sons in actual and advisory government and campaign positions as if they were princes and a princess.
And then he tried to overthrow the democratic government of our country, which was birthed in defiance of royalty, so he could establish his own line of royal succession, with Prince Junior thinking out loud about the Senate in North Carolina and Princess Ivanka musing about storming Florida and taking Marco Rubio’s scalp.
From the founding of our republic, conservatives have had a love affair with the idea of royalty. Before the Revolution, we called them Loyalists and Tories. They’ve never quite trusted “mob rule,“ also known as democracy.
And now they’re piling on Meghan Markle, whether to defend the British royal family or to attack her because she’s Black…or both.
Hating on Megan is happening all over Fox News, from their news shows to their opinion shows, as Don Lemon laid out in detail on CNN last night.
An article at the rightwing site Townhall, reported by TheRighting.com, notes: “Like a good woke American, Ms. Markel charged that the royal family was bothered by the skin color of her son. When you don’t have a legitimate grievance, you always play the race card… For Prince Harry to allow his wife to make such a scandalous charge without naming names is cowardly. But it’s also very telling – I suspect the Mrs. was spewing fake news.”
Over at the conservative NationalPulse, TheRighting.com reports their headline is, “The Many Lies Of Megan and Harry,” and the headline at NewsBusters is, “Morning Network News Shows Spent 91 Minutes Fawning Over Harry and Megan.”
Generally, though, these conservative freak-outs about the first Black member of the British royal family are outliers across American public opinion.
And it appears that Americans aren’t the only ones who have lost patience with self-absorbed, narcissistic, absurdly wealthy “royal” families: witness British television yesterday dropping Piers Morgan - with widespread public support - after his relentless attacks on Megan Markel and his support for the institution of British royalty.
Back in 1651, when Thomas Hobbes published his book Leviathan that arguably kicked off the Enlightenment, there was a serious debate about whether democracy was even possible, given the stability and permanence of royalty in Europe.
Hobbes argued that people should be able to choose their own leaders and government, although he continued to believe that the “original state” of humankind was essentially evil and therefore, lacking “the iron fist of church or state,” we would revert to our original nature and life would become “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
By 1689, when John Locke published his Two Treatises of Government, the idea of democratic self-governance was beginning to take hold. Locke argued that all men should be entitled to “life, liberty and property.”
Almost 100 years later, Thomas Jefferson would borrow the phrase but substitute “happiness“ for “property,“ as by that time property rights were fairly well established across Europe and certainly in North America.
Although democracies across the world are under assault today by international oligarchs and theocrats, there’s little doubt that democracy is a viable form of government. Which is why, when Donald Trump attempted to overthrow ours, the entire world stood aghast.
Many European countries have done away with their monarchies altogether, and others have kept them as, essentially, ornamental or decorative features of their tourism landscapes.
While America girds herself to prevent a future Trump wannabe from overthrowing our democracy and installing him- or herself as an anti-democratic pseudo-populist monarch, a debate is again breaking out in the UK over the role of the British monarchy.
Stripping the British royal family of their power over government and simply letting them live as fancy, ornamental billionaires like many other European royal families is, of course, something for the British to decide.
But watching the spectacle from this side of the Atlantic, the drama should remind us all once again of how important the idea of rule by We the People actually is.