We’re Still Doing This?

“So? Did you watch it?”

“I set my alarms early, yeah.”


“Mostly slept through it.”

“I knew it! I said you would.”

“But I got the gist of it, Em.”

“The gist of it?”

“Yeah. The Queen’s dead. Long live the King. Finally, after that awkward 70-year interregnum, we’re back on traditional footing. For nearly 3 generations, we’ve been deprived of the pleasure of saying ‘God Save the King!”

“Or singing it.”

“Or singing it, yeah. Now it’s all just King, King, King. As far as the eye can see.”

“That it? That’s the takeaway?”

“Well, what else is there to say, Em? I think we’re both in agreement that’s it’s all pretty much empty cultural calories. Pure ritual with no real-life impact.”

“Would the world be a worse place today if the British monarchy had died with Elizabeth, most of their property and wealth expropriated, and the lot of them herded onto one of their grand estates to live out the rest of their natural lives on, I don’t know, an A-house stipend to play act their former regal roles on one or two occasions a year?”

“Like a royal zoo?”


“Pet a baby royal!”

“Why not? They’d be well kept. According to best practices of maintaining outmoded forms of inherited hierarchies.”

“It just seems unnecessarily disruptive, Em. Yet another pointed stick of division to use in the current culture wars, wouldn’t you say?”

“I’m not saying we should guillotine them. Necessarily. Although maybe one of them… To prove a point.”

“OK. Two questions. First, which one would you guillotine.”


“You didn’t even have to think about that.”

“Well, he’s old. Nobody likes him that much. And as even the most ardent monarchists have to admit, the institution needs modernization. So, out with the old, in with the new. Let’s go! Ger ‘er done! Next question?”

“OK. Second, what would be the point of that, beheading another king?”

“What’s been the point of beheading any king, M? We’re done fucking around here, mister. Is basically the point. The rot set in from the top. Lop it off so that the rest of the body can start to heal.”

“Without a head.”

“With a new head. A new uncrownéd head.”

“With a Shakespearian added syllable no less. No loss of poetry in the transition.”

“I guess if everything were going swimmingly, nobody sleeping rough on the streets, nobody lined up outside foodbanks, etc., etc., I could overlook celebrating a family riding around in a golden carriage. But isn’t this exactly the kind of disparity that so incensed the sans-culotte? Why do we accept it now?”

“Well, there’s a big difference, I think, between the two, Em. One was a fight against tyrannical absolutism, the divine right of kings, etc., etc., and this…”

“This what, M?”


“Symbol of what?”

“… head of state that… symbolically signs off on legislation that—”

“A constitutional monarchy is the remnant of the compromise made between the established order of the landowning gentry and the newfound mercantile power of the petty bourgeoise, the newly propertied, the industrialists, the bankers—”

“Tinkers, tailors, candlestick makers.”

“The nobility and money, working together to keep actual democracy at bay by maintaining the franchise to as tight a closed circle as possible. That’s it. That’s all.”

“Man, you are such a killjoy. What’s wrong with a little pomp? A little pageantry. God knows we could all use some of both these days. Otherwise, it’s all just mass shootings and the earth burning.”

“The circus is fine, M, as long as there’s bread.”

“So, what’s your proposal then, Red Queen? Just, Off with their Heads and we all live happily ever after?”

“Imagine there’s no royalty. It’s easy if you try. The Barbados forged ahead. Why can’t we?”

“People really don’t like change though. The evil you know and all that. Besides, aren’t there more important issues we should be dealing with? Like you said, inequality, pover—”

“If we can’t change the easy stuff, the inconsequential ultimately, how the hell do you think we’re going to deal with the truly substantive changes we need to make? A royal family in this day and age represents everything that needs to be changed. Why not start there? Bin it. We’d barely even notice.”

“Remake Rideau Hall as affordable housing and the ground as public green space.”

“It’s easy if you try.”

“You know that’s never going to happen, right Em? Not in our lifetime.”

“Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?”

“You’d have better luck dreaming of being a princess.”

“Not if princesses no longer existed.”


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