Amol Rajan: Patriotism makes me a republican, not a lack of it

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The Independent Online

I'm so grateful for all the feedback you guys give me, except the really stupid stuff. Offensive I don't particularly mind; offensive, I can handle. It takes a lot to make me cry. But the really stupid stuff I rather take against; and when I write about our absurd monarchy, the really stupid stuff comes flying in. So today, in order to save some of you precious time, I thought I'd do some clarifying.

The stupidest thing said about republicanism is that republicans lack patriotism. I've said a few times before here, and will doubtless say again: I'm not a republican despite being a patriot, I'm a republican because I'm a patriot. I love my country and want it to be a place where any boy or girl could grow up to be our head of state, not one where Charles Windsor is appointed by birthright.

If you equate patriotism with love of the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas, you immediately grant that our country should be thought of in terms of our subservience in front of aristocrats, some of whom love a long session of strip billiards.

Alas for you, I care too much about our national heritage to accept this. If you look at the centuries-long march of British democracy, you may notice it involves the gradual removal from power of unelected aristocrats. Why not complete the journey by declaring a republic? Patriotism demands it.

The excellent sub-editors of this newspaper headlined last week's column thus: "The media is a propaganda outlet for the Royal Family". Writing in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, Patrick Jephson, equerry and private secretary to Charles Windsor from 1988-96, wrote: "One of the old [palace press officers] once boasted publicly of conniving with a friendly editor (curiously, one of those charged recently over phone-hacking) to rearrange the sequence of events when a certain young prince was caught smoking cannabis. A salutary visit to a drug rehabilitation clinic, touted by St James's Palace as a father's stern response to this youthful error of judgement, had actually happened before, not after, the offending royal spliff was inhaled."

Even for someone like me, who is forever trying to sniff out the whiff of bull**** emanating from our palaces, this came as a shock. An alleged phone hacker conniving with a bunch of posh fraudsters to lie to the public by completely re-writing history, in order to prevent an Etonian being castigated for enjoying a spliff, so as to preserve an utterly false impression of the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas?

Is this the sort of country you want to live in? Do let me know.