Letter: Why the royals can't be like us

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The Independent Online
Sir: Melvyn Bragg is right ("Prisoners of the fourth estate", 5 August). This country needs a monarchy but the royal family will have to reform itself if it is to survive through the next century.

The nettle that the royals must grasp is that they can not be like the rest of us. It is their misfortune to have been born into an image-hungry and media-dominated age but they do nothing themselves to discourage the spotlight of attention.

If there is a point to a modern monarchy, it is as a politically neutral focus for national loyalties. It is the royal family's duty to provide us with that focus. The media needs a clear image: the enthroned monarch surrounded by a family committed to royal service; a symbol demonstrating dedication, self-sacrifice and austerity; a family freed from the everyday cares that their subjects endure, but barred from the everyday pleasures of those same subjects.

It is a great thing to know one's place. It is not the place of a royal to tell us how difficult life is or how the country should be run or what constitutes good architecture. Such chatter can safely be left to the rest of us fortunate enough to be born of humbler stock.

Duty has never been easy or pleasant. This century millions of our countrymen and women died doing their duty. They leave a lot to live up to. It is only by demonstrating a similar commitment to duty that the royal family has any chance of winning back our respect. So long as they insist on behaving like film stars or media celebrities they will be treated as such.


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