Being forced to be a royal is a lifetime sentence, says Bill Angus, and a breach of fundamental human rights.
IN January 1649, the English parliament indicted Charles I with treason, found him guilty and chopped off his head. We Poms were a short-tempered lot in those days. Three and a half centuries later we don't decapitate our monarchs anymore, we just sentence them to a lifetime of emotional blackmail. You might remember that we had a celebrity wedding here in England recently.
The nuptials of William and Kate dominated the media for weeks, despite earthquakes, wars and revolutions elsewhere. But even before their wedding they must have grown used to being regarded as fair game for every stand-up comic looking for a cheap laugh, and that they would be followed by an army of Paparazzi with telephoto lenses. And, of course, it doesn’t end with the wedding; from now on at every appearance in public their every expression and utterance will be recorded in minute detail: they will only have to smile or frown at the wrong time or make an innocently controversial remark, and it will be in every tabloid and gossip column for the rest of their lives. More to the point, if they are fortunate enough to have children, then they too will be subjected to this scrutiny, and they will have no choice in the matter.
“So what?” you might say; “they'll enjoy luxury and celebrity status that anyone would envy”.
But would we? Perhaps we’d all like a brief taste of VIP attention — our fifteen minutes of fame. If offered a part in Neighbours, say, we might give it a go: for the novelty, for the cash, for the experience – for the temporary celebrity. But would we want it forced upon us? And if the contract also demanded that we become permanent occupants of Ramsay Street for the rest of our lives, and that our children and grandchildren were to be bound by the same agreement from birth to death, wouldn't we consider that too high a price for a well known address — albeit with a swimming pool or a couple of palaces thrown in?
Useless to say they can abdicate from the royal soap opera. If you are born into a family surrounded by an army of courtiers telling you from infancy that you have a destiny to fulfil a sacred duty to an entire nation, only madness or an unsuitable love affair will get you out of it. In short, a society that demands that a single family provide a head of state (and indeed, head of the state religion) from one generation to the next has clearly lost the ability to think. It is also, quite probably, breaking the law.
The European Human Rights Act 1998, (chapter 42, schedule 1, article 8) demands 'respect for private and family life', and provides for no exceptions. Article 10 guarantees ‘freedom of expression’, but woe betide any prince who utters the mildest opinion on any issue, no matter how innocuous. Clearly, our Royal Family are being denied their human rights, and we, the sentimental, flag-waving, sycophantic populace are keeping it that way. So who do we put in the dock? It’s a bit of a puzzle. The British people? The Attorney General? Maybe the Queen herself representing the State (Regina v Regina)? But she’s the one who should be indicting the rest of us! She has been a class act for 60 years, watched her father endure the strains of kingship and die young; witnessed her only sister’s tragic decline, and has seen the disintegration of her childrens’ marriages — all under the prurient gaze of the gossip columns and with the rapt attention of her loyal and hypocritical subjects. Thank God she’s had the support of a wise and steadfast husband all these years.
So who’s going to bring the matter to The Court of Human Rights? I asked my own lawyer if he felt like taking on the case but, while broadly sympathetic, he felt that his expertise in transferring ownership of semi-detached houses in the Manchester suburbs didn’t quite fit him for the task of abolishing the British Monarchy. But maybe an Australian lawyer – not a British Subject, but a free citizen of the Commonwealth – could be more adventurous? After all, it’s your problem as well as ours. And you’ve taken on the British establishment before — and won.
Of course, without a Queen, you’d have to find your own Head of State; but as a non-political office that shouldn’t be a problem; you already appoint your Governor General and you wouldn't need one of those any more. All you have to do is change the title.