God Save the Queen? By Johann Hari

God Save the Queen - Monarchy and the Truth About the Windsors by Johann Hari

There are a couple of key questions in the life of any posh England person. Right now, one is how you voted on the disastrous mess that is Brexit. The one that’s, you know, making our country look like a goddamn joke.

The other is whether you support the monarchy system. Which, right now, an enormous majority of Brits do.

God Save the Queen? Monarchy and the Truth About the Windsors

Support for the Royals seems to be at an all-time high right now. If we were to mention we’re anti-monarchy in a national paper, we’d face vilification. “Traitor!”, “Socialist!”, “And enemy of the people!” etc.

Since the Brexit vote in 2016, which many citizens believe is us “getting our country back” from the EU, an outpouring of nationalistic fervour has swept the nation.

There’s a bizarre, lingering sense of exceptionalism. Memories of defeating the Nazis, former empires (no matter how brutal they were), further wars, fish & chips etc. England is the most important country in the world!

And our monarchy system is a big part of this emboldening sense of self-worth. The world looks up to the Royals as they potter about waving at people, unelected and living off hereditary privilege.

As you can tell, we’re not fans. And there is a vocal set of anti-monarchy sorts here. Such as British-Swiss journalist Johann Hari, whose 2002 book riveted us back in the day.

It was the peak of our Sex Pistols infatuations, whose anarchic songs really bloody well upset many nationalistic Brits in the late 1970s. How DARE anyone criticise the Royal Family?!

Hari’s book sets out to determine the Royals’ lives are being destroyed by the people who support it. That they experience an insular and bizarre existence that keeps them about 300 years behind the times.

As a result, life as a Royal is actually something of a prison sentence rather than a luxury.

The argument is interesting, but obviously going to appeal to the few remaining dozen anti-monarchy sorts in this country.

Hari is only 40 now, so was an incredibly young journalist when he wrote this book in 2002. In 2011 he had to resign from The Independent due to plagiarism claims.

At the time, the compelling Christopher Hitchens supported his anti-monarchy message.

However, as a stance on monarchy in modern life goes the book sends out a compelling message. Although his arguments are somewhat hyperbolic at times, he makes a strong case for the unhappiness in life for Prince William and Harry.

But, really, as they bask in the wealth of hereditary privilege we don’t think the Royal Family is that depressed.

What we do think is it’s time to bring an end to an undemocratic and anachronistic system. Zomg, let the death threats commence!

Anti-Monarchy Sentiments Do Exist in the UK

Our stance on the Royals hardened in our teens to our outright dismissal now. Although for many on the right, in particular, it’s a daily part of their lives.

The Sex Pistols kind of had an impact on that opinion.

But these days popular tabloids such as the Daily Mail constantly feature any sort of Royal-related news. The readership laps it up without restraint. We saw one feature article documenting how Princess Kate dropped a bottle of water.

This was a sweeping article of 1,000 words with high-quality images. She dropped the bottle of water, then picked it up.

This highlighted her graciousness, apparently. We tried to find the article but, alas, couldn’t… and we’re really not dedicating more than five minutes trying to find something as stupid as that.

Anyway, in 1997 we watched the Bottom: Big Number 2 Tour (1995).

A savage assault on the monarchy, we doubt Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson would get away with that now.

We also point to 1994 with the The Madness of King George, which features subtle but rife anti-monarchy sentiments (Mr. Fox: “God rot all Royals! Give us the wisdom of America!”).

This included a line from the politician Mr. Fox.

“God rot all Royals. Give us the wisdom of America.”

According to director Nicholas Hytner, that line got a huge cheer when the film screen across the US market.

More recently in 2012, after the reformation of Manchester indie band The Stone Roses, we attended a major gig at Heaton Park.

As an anti-monarchy, anti-Tory band many of its followers are likely unclear on the group’s political message.

Halfway through the set, singer Ian Brown had a go at the monarchy and said it was time to abolish it.

From the 80,000 strong crowd there was a confused silence. Then a gradual change of atmosphere to tension, whilst outraged whistling began further near the front.

Although we fully agreed, we didn’t say anything. Until about 60 seconds after Brown’s remarks, the middle-aged bald bloke standing next to us mumbled, “You’re right Ian…”

And now… don’t even go there, sister. God save the Queen! Long live the monarchy.


  1. I quite like the British monarchy, although I recall an Honours course I did in – er – (cough cough) a long time ago – in which it transpired that nobody could agree quite how it became constitutional or why Charles I lost his head back in 1643. The only consensus was that he’d lost it. Very careless of him.

    Apropos another matter altogether, I had no idea that Richard E Grant was Withnail! Good stuff, and what a talented actor. He had lead billing, as a writer, in an Auckland Readers and Writers festival where I was also a presenter in 2007 (I am pretty sure he got a better hotel room than I did too, having top billing and all that. My main recollection of that festival is that I ended up on stage with a historian friend of mine, discussing the NZ Wars, and had to shut down a heckler in the audience with a slightly sharp remark, causing an audible gasp across the audience, all the while being broadcast live on radio. Yay.):


    Liked by 1 person

    • I generally frown on them, but the argument rages to and fro. Mainly in the fro sense. Patriotic fervour etc.

      Good, glad you enjoyed the film. Yes, that film put him on the map. Although Paul McGann was out protesting against Brexit in London the other day. But he’s a very good director, actor, and writer.

      As for hecklers, the best way to handle that is a good old haka and rugby tackle to the ground! Or in England, lob your fish & chips at them and heave a punch in a drunken haze.

      Liked by 1 person

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