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The Queen is Dead.  Republic Now!

GUEST COMMENTARY - On 8th September, 2022, a 96-year old woman died. Nothing unusual there.

On average, 1,679 people die in the UK every day. But this time round, everyone from the British Kebab Awards to The Prodigy made gushing sycophantic statements. Britain’s idiot prime minister in waiting Liz Truss, called the deceased “among the world’s greatest ever leaders”.

As Britain was sent into 10 days of enforced commemoration, the madness also spread to Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz called her a “role model and inspiration for millions”, while Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey said that the “power of her great personality has always fascinated us Berliners.” Brandenburger Tor was lit up in the colours of the Union Flag in her honour.

Even John Lydon, who as Johnny Rotten once wrote; “God save the queen. She ain’t no human being. There is no future In England’s dreaming” got involved. He posted the following message on social media: “Rest in peace Queen Elizabeth II. Send her victorious From all at johnlydon.com”.

Extinction Rebellion had been planning a so-called Festival of Resistance in London. They issued a statement, saying “Due to today’s news about the passing of Queen Elizabeth, the Rebellion Planning team, and other groups involved, have made the difficult decision to postpone the Festival of Resistance this weekend in London until further notice.” So, there is no time to waste in resisting climate change – unless a privileged old woman dies?

The Trade Union Confederation (TUC) postponed its conference. The post and railunions called off planned strikes, although interestingly, barristers will continue to strike. Leader of the RMT rail union Mick Lynch said “RMT joins the whole nation in paying its respects to Queen Elizabeth.”

This is the same Mick Lynch who a few days before proudly declared his love of James Connolly. In a television appearance, he asked his interviewer: “”Do you know who James Connolly is? He was an Irish socialist republican and he educated himself and started non-sectarian trade unionism in Ireland. And he was a hero of the Irish revolution.”

James Connolly was indeed an Irish revolutionary who wrote the following: “a people mentally poisoned by the adulation of royalty can never attain to that spirit of self-reliant democracy necessary for the attainment of social freedom.” Unfortunately Connolly’s most famous supporter is showing exactly this sort of adulation.

Just like us?

Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted “Above the clashes of politics, she stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon” (you can read the full, sickening statement by the Labour Party here). But just how much did the life of this privately educated woman with 30 castles resemble that of a normal pensioner?

One of the last acts of Elizabeth Windsor was to pay £12 million to cover the court fees of her son Andrew. Andrew is accused of sexually abusing Virginia Giuffre when she was a teenager, and the evidence against him looks compelling. It is not even a matter of dispute that he regularly partied with known paedophiles and sex traffickers.

Andrew is not the first sexual predator to visit royal palaces. Serial rapist Jimmy Savile used palace visits to seize young women and lick their arms. When Prince Charles and Princess Diana had marital difficulties, they employed Savile as a counsellor. Charles asked him to help improve the image of his brother’s soon to be ex-wife Sarah Ferguson.

How much?

While many British pensioners die of hypothermia each Winter, the Royals have an annual gas bill of £2½ million. This is not something they find difficult to pay. Forbes magazine estimated last year that the Royal Family is worth $28 billion. Last year, the Sovereign Grant, which replaced the Civil List, allocated them £86.3 million, compared to £42.8 five years previously. This money is paid by the British tax payer.

As Bailey Schulz reported in USA Today, the queen’s “personal assets from investments, real estate, jewels and more have an estimated worth of $500 million”. Prince Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall inherits all the wealth of people who die in Cornwall without making a will. His estate, worth £1billion now passes to Prince William.

The Royals own 1.4% of all land in England, including nearly all of Regent Street and most of the UK seabed. They have their own train costing at least £800,000 a year and a helicopter costing nearly £1 million. A new royal yacht is being built costing £250 million. Even Elizabeth’s funeral will cost British taxpayers £6 billion.

£10 million of the queen’s private money was invested in offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. It is a step forward that she feels the need to hide her tax. She only agreed to pay any income tax at all in 1992, when the popularity of the royals was at rock bottom.

During the Corona pandemic, the queen gained an exemption from the ongoing eviction ban and evicted a couple from one of her many properties. The reason? Using a communal plug socket to charge their electric car. In 2004, the queen asked a state poverty fund used to help low income families to pay for heating Buckingham Palace.

Notwithstanding their vast wealth, the royals were not prepared to look after their own family. In 1941, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, Elizabeth’s first cousins were sent to the “Royal Earlswood Asylum for Mental Defectives”. They each had a mental age of around 3 and never learned to talk.

In 1961, they were recorded as deceased, although Nerissa actually died in 1986 and was buried in a pauper’s grave. Katherine died in 2014. There is no record of anyone visiting them. A nurse reported: “They never received anything at Christmas either, not a sausage.” The royals sent the hospital £125 a year for their care, but never publicly acknowledged their existence.

The Legacy of Colonialism

The British monarchy has always had a close relationship with colonialism and imperialism. Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother Victoria styled herself the Empress of India and presided over the expansion of the British empire.

Princess Elizabeth learned that she was going to be queen when she was representing Britain’s colonial interests in Kenya. Later that year, British troops brutally suppressed the Mau Mau rebellionin the same country. As the New York Times reported: “the clampdown on Kenyans, which began just months after the queen ascended the throne, led to the establishment of a vast system of detention camps and the torture, rape, castration and killing of tens of thousands of people.”

The monarch is the head of the British army, and has the right to recruit, appoint commissioned officers and negotiate the stationing of British troops on foreign soil. Under Elizabeth’s watch, British troops invaded Egypt after President Nasser invaded the Suez canal, shot dead 14 unarmed civiliansin Derry, and acted as bag carriers on countless US imperial adventures.

The royal family continues to benefit from the plunder of the colonial years. The new queen Camilla will inherit the crown which contains the Koh-i-Noor diamond, valued at $400 million but considered to be priceless. Indian economist Utsa Patnaik estimates that goods stolen by the British between 1765 and 1938 from the Indian subcontinent alone were worth $45 trillion

The royal family continues to aid imperialism. When BAE systems sold 72 Typhoon fighter jets to the Saudi Arabian dictatorship, Prince Charles was in Riyadh dancing with Saudi princes on the evening before the deal was signed. According to Andrew Smith from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade: “It is clear that Prince Charles has been used by the UK government and BAE Systems as an arms dealer”.

In 1975, when a majority of Australians had the temerity to voted for the Labor politician Gougb Whitlam. It was the queen’s representative who sacked Whitlam and ushered in a Conservative government. So much for the royals being above politics.

Racism

Elizabeth’s husband Philip was famed for his racism, which the media quaintly reported as “gaffes”. On a state visit to China in 1986, he told British students that if they stayed in the country they would go “slitty eyed”. In 1998 he asked a British student in Papua New Guinea “You managed not to get eaten, then?”. Four years later, in Australia, he asked an Aboriginal man, “Still throwing spears?” Philip’s brother-in-law was a close aide of SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

Philip was not the only racist in the family. Elizabeth’s mother was fond of calling black people “nig nogs”. When Stephen Fry told the queen’s sister Margaret that he was Jewish, she “expressed her horror by shouting to everybody else at her table: ‘He’s a Jew. He’s a Jew.”’ Margaret once told the Mayor of Chicago that “the Irish are pigs, all pigs”.

We are often told the “tragic story” of Elizabeth’s uncle Edward who had to abdicate because he wanted to marry a divorcee. The truth is that the establishment were more worried that both Edward and his fiancée were open Nazis who regularly visited Hitler in the run up to the Second World War. In 2015, the Sun released exclusive photos of Edward teaching a young Princess Elizabeth and her sister to make a Nazi salute under the headline “Their Royal Heilnesses”.

Until at least the 1960s, Buckingham Palace banned “coloured immigrants or foreigners” from work. Even now, the monarch is exempt from several laws, including those concerning racial, ethnic or sexual equality

The racism continues to the present. When Meghan Markle was expecting the queen’s grandson,  members of the British royal family expressed “concerns and conversations” about how dark her son’s skin would be. Her husband Harry said that racism was a “large part” of the reason for the couple leaving the UK.

Do we need a figurehead?

Shortly after Elizabeth’s death, the Blairite journalist Polly Toynbee wrote an egregious piece in the Guardian in which she stated: “Every nation needs a figurehead; and, however perverse the sheer randomness of being born into that role, she did it with remarkable skill and dignity.” In other words, know your place, plebs.

But do British people really need a figurehead to unite behind? Working class Britons have more in common with other working class people in Berlin and Kolkata than with a Tory government that claims that we’re all in this together while attacking living standards and handing over the profits to their friends in the City. We don’t need a fake unity with the people responsible for keeping our wages low and our rents high

We are asked to lay off the queen because she was an old woman, just a symbol. But what she symbolises is exactly the problem – Empire, colonialism, and the fact that if you’re born into the right family, you’re guaranteed a well paying job.

The monarchy cannot survive without the racist belief in birth privilege. As John Mullen says: “the existence of a king or queen represents the principle that one family is born superior to another – more deserving of privilege, purer, more virtuous, because of their blood line. This is the idea that plagued humanity from ancient slavery to Nazis.”

It is not just that Royals get their jobs because of birth, not merit. It is much worse than that. They are all born into privilege, privately educated, and do not understand how most of us live. It is not a coincidence that so many of them end up as far right racists. Even the “progressive” one who married a black woman went to a fancy dress party in a Nazi uniform “for a laugh”.

The Royals are not representative of the country as a whole. They are representatives of their class. When Paris Hilton tweeted that the queen was the “original girl boss”, she was right, even though she didn’t understand the implications of what she was saying.

People say that the monarchy is above politics, that the role is purely symbolic. If this is true, why must the British people pay them so much? Why are Elizabeth’s relatives allowed to keep the expensive booty of colonial expropriation? When the victims of Colonialism rightly claim the reparations they are owed, their first stop after the British Museum should be Buckingham Palace.

What happens now?

So what happens now that Britain is being ruled by a man who is much less popular than his mother, employs someone to iron his shoelaces and once fantasized about being his mistress’s tampon?

There’s a shift going on in British society which we shouldn’t overstate but isn’t insignificant. A statista poll in 2022 said that “younger age groups are progressively more likely to oppose the monarchy, with 31 percent of 18-24 year olds opting instead for an elected head of state.” This was under the relatively popular Elizabeth. Another poll in 2022 showed that two-thirds of Britons did not want Charles to succeed his mother.

The British Royals have been declining in support for several decades. This is why my friend Jacinta Nandi is trying to popularise the hashtag #THETIMEISNOW. Although I think that the time was 1,000 years ago, rising prices and a growing discrepancy between poor and rich means that Britons can no longer afford the royals. It’s time for them to go.

Phil Butland was born in England but now lives in Germany, where he serves on the editorial board of The Left Berlin