The state broadcaster and the amassed media horde (grateful for something to distract us from the embarrassing phenomenon of people reclaiming their humanity in the refugee crisis despite their best efforts to sell us xenophobic bile for thirty years) are about to kick-in to full-on Royal Celebration Mode. There’s usually little excuse for this default setting but this time the reason for this unnecessary descent into unquestioning fealty is that tomorrow Elizabeth II (sic) will apparently outstrip the length of Victoria’s reign and (after 63 years on the throne) will become the longest-reigning monarch in the past 1,000 years.
Starting us off is Britain’s Sycophant in Chief, Nicholas Witchell who dribbles (‘Queen Elizabeth II: A constant amid gale-force changes‘):
“Steadfast. Constant. Dutiful. These are the words which are used most frequently to describe Queen Elizabeth II, monarch and head of state of the United Kingdom and of her “other realms and territories”. Few, I think, would disagree with these characterisations of a widely respected sovereign whose reign has entered the record books.”
Few indeed Nicholas, a man who is actually paid by us all to trot-out this dire nonsense on a daily basis. He continues: “It’s a record which, in so far as these things can ever be gauged, would appear to have placed the monarchy in pretty much as strong a position now in the UK as it was when she inherited the throne. In Prime Minister David Cameron’s view she has been “a permanent anchor, bracing against the storms and grounding us in certainty”. Her grandson Prince William takes comfort from the example she’s set of “duty and compassion” and from what he calls her “innate sense of calm and perspective”. And so it will continue. There is no question of her retiring. She will continue seeking, as she said in a broadcast on the night of her coronation, to be “worthy of your trust”.
The cult of extreme wealth and the fawning ridiculous deference are only the cultural aspects of this obscenity. The Queen remains the apogee of Britain’s unreformed feudal landscape, from the disgrace of the House of Lords, to the culture of privilege and patronage to the blight of land ownership. As Andy Wightman wrote in our inaugural newspaper back in 2007:
“…many of Scotland’s landowners are charming, polite, eager to please and undertake good works in the community. So what? Just as a benign dictator who is popular with the masses does not diminish one iota the case for democracy and human rights, so the presence of so many charming members of the nobility still lording it over huge swathes of Scotland (but doing a splendid job) does nothing to detract from the case for radical land reform. Of course many will argue that it matters little in the overall scheme of things that the Queen owns Balmoral. What matters is the symbolism and what this says about or attitudes to who owns our country because, for a start we know so little about how land is owned and by whom. For example, Queen Victoria is popularly believed to have fallen in love with Balmoral and purchased it in the 19th century. She didn’t. Likewise, the Queen is regarded as the owner of Balmoral Estate. She isn’t.”
The Queen’s contestant presence and the drip drip of sycophancy through the pores of a pliant media have indeed been a constant for a very long time. Why this is a source of celebration in the 21 Century Scotland is a mystery.