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I have spent my entire life learning to deal with disappointment.

I don’t simply mean the kind of disappointment that makes you wake up screaming in the middle of the night and fills you with existential terror. Why did I fail my A level maths twice? What happened to my favourite Slazenger V6 cricket bat that I lent to my friend and he never returned? How the hell do you sell a book of monk cartoons to atheists?

No, I mean I have to deal with the disappointment that people feel once they discover that I simply cannot get excited about any royal happening. Where I see a baby-shaped baby with baby features doing baby things, others see a modern miracle who has the eyes of King George VI. Where I see two rather ordinary people getting married, they see… Well, I don’t know what they see except I suspect if involves unicorns and wood elves. If I could see whatever magic appears before their eyes, I wouldn’t be finding something else to do in a bookshop 20 miles away…

This does, of course, cause me some grief. I have been variously described as ‘miserable’, ‘heartless’, ‘unpatriotic’, as well as a ‘metropolitan liberal’. In truth, I might be all of those (except the last) so let me give you a statistic that might not seem obvious at first meeting me.

Number of royals I’ve seen in my life: 1.

That’s right. I have seen, in the flesh, just one royal and that was Prince Edward. Think about that for a moment. Now wonder why I don’t get excited at the mention of royals.

A fuzzy Prince Edward

A fuzzy Prince Edward

My one and only royal encounter happened just a few weeks ago and was entirely by accident. Taking a break in Liverpool after spending a morning trying to entice random strangers in Waterstones to pick up my book, I was passing the Bluecoat Gallery when two police motorbikes arrived with blue flashing lights followed a second later by a black Range Rover. Around Liverpool, big black Range Rovers are only ever owned by drug kingpins, top-class footballers, or Wayne Rooney, so I wasn’t immediately impressed. Then the rear doors opened and out popped Prince Edward. So, again, not immediately impressed. He did, however, seem quite friendly, especially when he grinned and began to wave at me.

I didn’t wave back but, then, I hardly know the man…

That last point I think I should underscore. I have a pretty gruff, northern, take-no-nonsense attitude towards life. I don’t respond enthusiastically when strangers approach me in the street and call me ‘mate’ or try to engage me in jovial conversation. It’s none of their business how I’m doing. I don’t buy into chirpy, upbeat everybody-lives-in-an-Apple-ad culture. And if I’m less than enthusiastic about royals it’s because they have absolutely no impact on my life. Give that I’m the kind of guy who crosses the road to avoid people who simply look too happy, a royal wedding registers on my list of interests somewhere between ‘how to grow marigolds’ and ‘the calorie content of a squirrel’.

Yet despite all that: I am a monarchist. Admittedly, that’s a very reluctant monarchist. Since I don’t believe in a god, I don’t believe any monarchy is sanctioned by some transcendental being who took it upon themselves to point a large Monty Python style finger at them through parted clouds. I believe most monarchies begin with violence and are sustained by the threat of violence until they are sustained by the force of law (which is itself sustained by the threat of violence). I also see the Royal Family as a feature of our constitutional monarchy. I think of them as a necessity to save us from some awful Republic in which Katie Price (or, even worse, Hopkins) would be named President.

And that, for me, is key. I dislike Katie Price more than I dislike any royal. End of argument.

The only doubt I have about my position is that a monarchy does seem an utterly irrational way of going about things. If I we are to imbue somebody with sovereign majesty, then we could just as easily imbue some inanimate object such as a rocky outcrop, a bend in a river, or some particularly old oak tree. Of course, the ‘inanimate object’ argument doesn’t rule out Katie Price so it’s another idea I can’t get behind.

You see how things get confusing?

It’s also confusing because I think it’s possible to be a monarchist and be immune to the charms of the royal family, as I’m also pretty sure that there are people with republican sentiments who get a bit drippy eyed about the thought of Prince Harry marrying Meghan Markle (or, if you’re Leader of the DUP, of Prince William marrying Meghan Markle).

My reason, I suppose, is that I pity the people born into the royal life and are therefore forbidden from following their dreams and ambitions. Of course, it’s hard to feel much pity for them once they reach the red-cheeked-raging-about-the-fate-of-the-baboons stage of life but, in general, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

It’s also possible to be a monarchist and be not entirely hostile to the arguments in support of a republic. The Royal Family certainly cost us money that could otherwise go on, say, provide adequate fireproofing for tower blocks. Yet I also accept that the argument doesn’t take into account that the UK is known across the world for our royals and that tourism generates huge sums. I also accept that they stand at the top of an establishment order that generally works in favour of those at the top, making social mobility harder, the further down the hierarchy you are. I accept that the same problems exist in America where a few families have dominated the political scene throughout its brief 241 years and the Presidency costs more to keep than Vanessa Phelps apparently spends on custard.

I accept all these things which take me back to my initial point.

So many things fill my day that I have absolutely no interest in where Harry met Meghan or what stones are in the ring. I’m happy to send them my best wishes but, you know, I really don’t suppose they’re too bothered if I do or I don’t…











6 Comments on "Please Tell Me When My Enthusiasm Is Enough"

  1. Germany and Ireland manage to soldier on ok with their presidential system, no signs of the likes of Jedward or Dieter Bohlen getting anywhere near the presidency yet. Both countries do pretty well for tourists too, as do Italy and France. The “royals bring in tourism” argument is the biggest load of bunkum out there, not aiming that at you btw, it is after all presented as if it is fact in the UK press. When you scratch under the surface it is based on the laughable principle that people who visit Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Windsor castle do so because of the royals and would stop doing so if we had no monarchy. Were that the case, Versailles, Schonbrunn, Nymphenburg etc would be the picture of peace and tranquility. It’s a bit like saying people wouldn’t visit St Pauls if we got rid of the CoE.

    This lot aren’t even the proper heirs to the throne, George I was the 51st in line to the throne, he just happened to be the first in line when parliament had filtered out all the catholics from the succession. An interesting (or boring) fact is that had the current laws of succession been in place at the time, Kaiser Wilhelm would have been King of England, imagine the repercussions for the rest of the world!.

    Why I ultimately dislike our system is that it is basically saying to it’s people, “not born into a certain family, then you can f**k off you peasants”. If someone can swallow the principle of hereditary privilege for one job, then why not for others?. I used to wind monarchists up by telling them that either they or their kids shouldn’t be allowed to do their job because they weren’t of the right stock. I’d say they were too low class, only real gentry should have professional jobs like theirs. That apparently is different.

    The worst thing about these types of events is seeing Nicholas Witchell at his most grovelling, toady, bum licking worst. I swear that if the Queen put down a bowl of corgi sick in front of him he would get down there and lap it up. It’s not just him, the tone of voice of every reporter who covers these types of story instantly changes to fawning subservience when it is a royal story. Would be interesting to see what guideline comes down from high about how to report these type of events.

    • Not going to argue with any of that. This was nearly all tongue in cheek but I am a very very reluctant monarchist because my trust in the British people is at an all-time low.

      • They’re no different from any other electorate David. Like every other country we wrongly believe in our own exceptionalism. You would struggle to find many countries where significantly less than half of the population didn’t feel disaffected at the way their fellow citizens had recently voted.

  2. “Around Liverpool, big black Range Rovers are only ever owned by drug kingpins, top-class footballers, or Wayne Rooney”

    Yes, I think I see what you did there, very clever 🙂

    Anyway, as a person whose politics are far left of centre and a committed Republican I can hardly wait for the announcement of the wedding date. So that I can avoid the whole thing. If it’s a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday then I will be at work, if it’s a Monday or a Friday then I shall probably do something useful.

    It’s the 21st Century and the UK needs a monarchy about as much as the Pope needs an Uzi. Whilst in hospital for back surgery I had a chance to meet Prince Charles but it seems as if I blew it. The flunky came around the day before and asked “what name should His Highness use when he meets you”, so I looked him straight in the eye and said “Peter Kennedy, Republican”. Well, the great day arrived and Charlie spoke to the guy in the bed next to me, breezed past my accomodation, then spoke to the resident of the next bed on the right. I’ll survive.

    Good luck to the happy couple, she’s a pretty lass, and that’s all I can say.

    • Thanks, Peter. I did wonder when writing that line if anybody would spot it.

      I’ll also be avoiding coverage. It’s all happening in a different world that feels a million miles away.

  3. I am too a reluctant Monarchist and I totally get some of the points made by Rob re fawning subservience. I wonder how many of the population popped the champagne corks when the News was announced. One TV reporter let her guard down when asked what are people saying by replying most say it is nice news but they are not getting over excited. On the day the Engagement happened I could not believe ITV News at Ten devoted the first 25 minutes of their flagship programme to the Announcement and it does make you wonder what other “News” that normally would have been covered that day was dropped. I think it devalues the News when you have the likes of Eve Pollard talking about how Meghan held herself and how as one commentator said people will now have to decide if they are Team Kate or Team Meghan !!

    Of course, the Monarchy are an important fact of life but surely if your daughter or Son or best friend are getting engaged you should be more joyful or happy. The News feeds us a daily drip of bad depressing news when there must be good news stories to cover but a Royal wedding is seen as a rare case of casting all that aside. It felt like the nutter in North Korea could have done anything that day and it would have been a footnote at the end of the News.

    So yes on balance I have nothing against the Monarchy and some of the causes they get involved with such as The Invictus games and anti-land mine work is very admirable but should we not show a bit more of the British reserve and stiff upper lip and not pretend this will be a life changing moment for the country but just a lovely story of an American actress marrying her British Prince . I wish them well and hope this is a lasting happy union and they both use their privileged positions for the common good. God Save the Queen.

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