GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER – UK PRIME MINISTER

5 February 2012

Tomorrow 6 February will be a time of great rejoicing throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, for it was 60 years ago to the day that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne.

Pageants, processions and parties are planned throughout the kingdom in this year of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty’s Accession. The Government has set aside two days of public holiday in June for national rejoicing. A flotilla of boats will parade along Thames in London to mark the occasion.

In short, pomp and ceremony will be deftly deployed to ensure that no doubts are allowed to surface among the populace at large as to the inestimable value to the nation of a royal family which, by reason of birth alone, inherits the right to the public funding of its glittering lifestyle.

Benefit scroungers? Who? Not they, surely?

However, our attention has been caught by a short snippet of news that appeared in the diary column of the UK’s Guardian newspaper on 12 January 2012.

This involved an exchange on a radio programme between Guardian commentator Jonathan Freedland and Katie Nicholl, royal correspondent of the UK’s Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Their conversation took place at a time of rapidly rising unemployment and savage public spending cutbacks. However, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, himself a direct descendant of King William IV, has repeatedly proclaimed that, as far as the economic downturn is concerned,  “we are all in this together”, that is to say, the burden of the economic crisis lies heavy in equal measure on the backs of the rich and the poor.

It is a theme to which Katie Nicholl apparently warms.

This is a time when the Queen is just as stretched as other people in the country,” she tells Freedland.

“Not quite ‘just as stretched’,” counters Freedland.

Well, there are palaces to rebuild and make better,” replies Nicholl. “They are under a lot of pressure.”

So that’s all right then.

As we have made clear in our Mission Statement, Antigone1984 is in favour of democracy and opposed to hierarchies of any kind, whether kings or queens, leaders, aristocrats or bosses.

The republic is the natural political organisation for the free man or woman. It is to the lasting credit of the founding fathers of the United States that, making a clean break with the monarchical regimes of old Europe, they opted for the constitution of a republic and thus set a commendable precedent for all republics thereafter. The French revolutionaries that toppled the Ancien Régime, for instance, were much indebted to the American example.

It seems obvious to Antigone1984 that democracy is not compatible with monarchy. Democracy is rule by the people. Monarchy is rule by a king or queen. Even in a so-called “constitutional” monarchy, where it is often claimed that the monarch is simply a figurehead, the monarch retains residual powers which are kept in reserve for deployment in moments of national emergency.  What is more, the monarchy, as the summit of the hierarchical pyramid, bestows legitimacy on all the hierarchical strata in a nation, starting with the aristocracy. Indeed, hierarchy in general, for example in the workplace, finds its ultimate legitimation in the monarchy.

It might surprise some readers to learn that in the United Kingdom before Members of Parliament elected by the people are allowed to take their seat in the House of Commons, they must swear an oath of loyalty to the monarch.  One might ask oneself in these circumstances whether a state in which republicans are banned from representing the electors is in fact a democracy at all.

Antigone1984 believes that hereditary monarchy has no place in a democracy and that the persistence of royalty is incompatible with the democratic governance of a modern civilised state.

Monarchs have subjects, democracies have citizens.

Lest all the ballyhoo and razzmatazz surrounding this Diamond Jubilee give readers the idea that the United Kingdom is and always has been a hotbed of monarchism, it should be borne in mind that the country also boasts a republican tradition, albeit one of much less significance. The dictator Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) had King Charles I executed in 1649 and set up two non-monarchical forms of government, the Commonwealth (1649-1653) and the Protectorate (1653-1659). Political writers with pronounced republican sympathies have included Charles Churchill (1732-1764) and John Wilkes (1725-1797).

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

The national anthem “God Save the Queen” will be sung lustily throughout the year by millions of Her Majesty’s loyal subjects to mark this special anniversary.  The original tune is attributed to various composers, including John Bull (1562-1628) and Thomas Arne (1710-1778). There are various versions of the lyrics but the standard version goes as follows:

God save our gracious Queen,

Long live our noble Queen,

God save the Queen:

Send her victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long to reign over us:

God save the Queen.

 

O Lord, our God, arise,

Scatter her enemies,

And make them fall.

Confound their politics,

Frustrate their knavish tricks,

On Thee our hopes we fix,

God save us all.

 

Thy choicest gifts in store,

On her be pleased to pour;

Long may she reign:

May she defend our laws,

And ever give us cause

To sing with heart and voice

God save the Queen.

RULE, BRITANNIA!

For those who like this kind of thing, here are the first four verses of “Rule, Britannia!”, an immensely popular patriotic song still much sung today. The lyrics derive from a poem by the Scottish poet James Thomson (1700-1748) that was set to music by the composer Thomas Arne (1710-1778), who is also associated with the national anthem (see above).

When Britain first, at Heaven’s command

Arose from out the azure main;

This was the charter of the land,

And guardian angels sang this strain:

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:

“Britons never will be slaves.”

 

The nations, not so blest as thee,

Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;

While thou shalt flourish great and free,

The dread and envy of them all.

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:

“Britons never will be slaves.”

 

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,

More dreadful, from each foreign stroke;

As the loud blast that tears the skies,

Serves but to root thy native oak.

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:

“Britons never will be slaves.”

 

Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame:

All their attempts to bend thee down,

Will but arouse thy generous flame;

But work their woe, and thy renown.

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:

“Britons never will be slaves.”

Readers still curious about matters royal in the United Kingdom might like to check out the satire we published in this blog on 19 January 2012 on the proposal, during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, to provide the Queen with an £80 million yacht by way of a present to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

We reprint the post below for their convenience.

HAVE-YACHTS AND HAVE-NOTS

19 January 2012

At a time of global economic crisis, falling output and rising unemployment, the British Government is to make it a priority that that the Queen of England will get her yacht back.  As is well-known, the population of England is divided into the “have-yachts” and the “have-nots”.  The Queen lost her last yacht in 1997, when it was decommissioned, and so for the past 15 years she has eked out a meagre existence as a “have-not”. The year 2012 (ie this year, for those of you still awake) marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen’s Ascent to the Throne. The Government, whose members by definition are all “have-yachts”, wants to mark the occasion by ending Her Majesty’s humiliating “have-not” status. She is to become a “have-yacht” again. [NB The British Royal family is many cuts above those common-as-muck  Continental monarchs who ride about their kingdoms on plebeian bicycles.]The Queen’s yacht will cost £80 million pounds, but this has not dampened the ardour of Her Majesty’s loyal subjects. All over England the lame, the sick, the elderly, the unemployed are hobbling around their hovels overjoyed at the good tidings. “It’s worth getting me benefit cut again for,” said Gertrude of Bolton, who has contributed her wooden leg to a lottery to raise funds for the yacht. “I only get 50p a week anyway since the latest cuts and once I’ve paid me rent and me ‘eating and me food and a black patch for me glass eye, well there’s not much left out of that.” And, by the way, the Government has firmly scotched rumours that the Queen, who lives in a very large number of very large houses, is to be means-tested by a French firm to determine whether she should continue trousering the “Civil List”, which is a royal term for taxpayer’s money used to pay “benefits” to the Queen and her Consort (that is “husband” to you and me). The Government made that quite clear this week, when it decreed that the Royal Family, like the Banks, was “too big to fail” and hence would continue to receive benefits whatever happened, unlike those work-shy cripples and chemotherapy patients who were too lazy to get out of bed in the morning and do a decent day’s work like any ordinary “hard-working family” that was not a benefit scrounger. But let us go back to the yacht.  The government is said to believe that a large-scale celebration is needed to lift the country’s spirits. However, since, thanks to Government cutbacks, there is very little hard cash around, the Government has decided that the large-scale celebration will be strictly limited to members of the Royal Family and senior Ministers (but not Clegg). In a letter sent to the panjandrum overseeing the jubilee festivities, a senior Minister is quoted as saying: “I feel strongly that the diamond jubilee gives us a tremendous opportunity to recognise in a very fitting way the Queen’s highly significant contribution to the life of the nation….perhaps because of the austere times, the celebration should go beyond those of previous jubilees.”  Well said, Sir! And so say all of us!

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