Of the many absurd claims made on behalf of our monarchy, possibly the most ridiculous is the idea that it is politically neutral. In my experience, whenever you argue with monarchists about this subject, they resort very quickly to verbal crutches about the ability of monarchs to command the affection of the whole public. They don’t have political views, you see, and therefore can’t be divisive figures.
Well I hope this week destroyed forever that silly pretence. But before we get to Charles Windsor and the stupefying decision of Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, to protect this aristocrat from himself – and so sustain the illusion that he is a man of the people – here’s a perky little quote from this week’s Spectator. It comes from the weekly notes of Charles Moore, who I hold to be one of the finest prose stylists writing in English today.
Mr Moore has been reading the regally titled Counting One’s Blessings, a collection of the Queen Mother’s letters edited by a royal propagandist called William Shawcross, whose daughter Eleanor is a prominent young Conservative. He picks out these words, written when she was 23: “I am extremely anti-Labour. They are so apart from fairies and owls and bluebells & Americans & all the things I like.”
Even if you disregard for a moment the suffocating immaturity of anyone who dismisses all Labour in these terms – and I am no Labour member – how can the above be reconciled with the forests of newsprint given over, upon the Queen Mother’s death, to the claim that she spoke for the whole country and therefore deserved their unanimous adoration?
The same nonsense will be spouted about Mr Windsor long after Dominic Grieve this week blocked the release of 27 “particularly frank” letters to Labour ministers, because this might disrupt Mr Windsor’s “preparation for kingship”. Those might be my two favourite euphemisms of 2012, and I should remind you that all euphemisms are lies.
True conservatives, if they could combine courage with clear thinking, would realise that the illusion of political neutrality has been destroyed, and that this is a dangerous thing. Only the estimable Stephen Glover, writing in the Daily Mail, seemed to me to really get it.
For the rest of us, this week has provided an emphatic reminder of something we have long known. Hereditary monarchies, always and everywhere, are vehicles for conservatism and aristocracy masquerading as benevolence and patriotism. True patriots know they stink.