Analogue Republicanism

I am now so old I can remember pre-Channel 4 television when, at the end of the day the national anthem would be played before the screen went blank and a white dot appeared. Television ended. The thought of a choice of only three tv stations and the notion of the screen going blank is unthinkable in the age of Netflix, channel-surfing and 24-hour “rolling news”. I remain stubbornly analogue: I listen to CDs, measure temperature in Fahrenheit and conceptualise distance in miles and feet. I even have vinyl, but I’m not cool enough to actually have anything to listen to it on. The national anthem and the presence of the royal family were baked into pre-digital Britain in a way that few could imagine today. Even trips to the theatre would involve everyone having to stand up for the national anthem. If the pre-Diana royals were an ever-present part of 70s and 80s Britain they were like a background noise of quiet deference and unquestioning fealty.

It’s a million miles from the constant thrum of Harry and Meaghan’s Instagram feed, The Crown, or the endless stream of biopics and tv series, the Royal Correspondents  and the entire industry of magazines and press about the Windsor’s and their sprawling (over) extended family.

All of this changed when God Save the Queen was drowned out by booing crowds at Hampden and Murrayfield and the inexorable rise of Scottish nationalism was boosted by the collapse of deference-culture and the dysfunctional Windsor family broke apart along with British identity itself.

These faded memories came back with the picture of Prince Andrew peaking out from behind the curtains with his mum, holed up at Balmoral to avoid the media scrutiny over the accusation by Virginia Giuffre that the prince raped and sexually abused her. She is suing the Queen’s third oldest child for punitive damages.

Spencer Kuvin, who represents a number of Epstein’s victims, said: “To punish some­­one worth a billion dollars you have got to hit them in their pockets and punish them accordingly.”

“Damages against Andrew could range in excess of £14 million. Easily.”

But if the case could destroy Andrew’s already shredded reputation and cost him, and presumably us, a lot of money, it also has wider questions for the Royals. If Andrew’s strategy is to hide at his mum’s castle for a bit until it all quietens down, I’m not sure he’s thought that through. The problem is one for his mum and his big brother too. The longer they shield and protect Andrew and his entourage the more they risk going down with him, if, as seems possible he is forced to pay damages or some semblance of justice appears.

Andrew has 21 days to respond to the suit from Ms Giuffre.

With this background unfolding it was strange to see James Forsyth claiming in The Times that “Britain needs the Royal family more than ever”.

But if Britain and its archaic institutions seems irredeemable, maybe we need to think outside the box?

In 1994 OJ Simpson led a televised police chase in his Ford Bronco along Interstate 405 in Los Angeles, California. The helicopter tv crews of a dozen stations broadcast the bizarre spectacle live before Simpson was eventually captured, tried and freed.

Could the same work for the embattled Prince? Imagine sweat-free Randy Andy pedal-to-the metal in one of his dads Land Rovers busting out of Balmoral stopping only to sign a few autographs outside Crathie Kirk. Fergie and he could veer off like a re-booted Bonnie and Clyde with the Poileas Alba in hot-pursuit and Effie Deans live-blogging her disgust and the only thing stopping them being some congestion at Spittal of Glenshee.

Maybe not.

In fact the monarchy has few places to turn. Their efforts to morph from God-Given creatures that say nothing and do very little to celebrities that rock about the circuit of European aristocracy and high-life has been a well documented failure; meticulously charted by The Crown, itself a sculpted piece of modern propaganda. The family grows even as its defenders claim it will be “slimmed down”. Now we are joined by Beatrice and Eugenie and Edoardo Mozzi; Jack Brooksbank and baby August; Edward and Sophie’s sprogs ‘Lady Louise’ and James Severn; the Tindals; plus of course George, Charlotte, Louis and wee Archie and Libet Diana, plus Savannah, Isla, Mia and Lena. I haven’t made any of them up.

The Express tells us that the Queen is having ‘crisis talks’ and that Prince Charles has ‘rushed to Royal Deeside to thrash out Andrew chaos’.

Cressida Dick, who somehow, remarkably is still the chief of the Met, claimed about the Andrew case: “Nobody is above the law. As a result of what’s going on I’ve asked my team to have another look at the material”.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe her.

As Andrew hides away in Royal Deeside and the Windsor clan blooms and breeds it’s hard to say how this isn’t going to cause more and longer-lasting damage to the already crumbling notion of Britain and the Union.

This week up steps Stephen Cottrell aka the Duke of York with a possibly less than helpful to sooth the troubled kingdom. The mitre-hatted chap suggested that a new “expansive” vision of what it means to be English to counter a “negative political discourse and a hopeless future”.

“Courage and compassion” he suggested  should be the cornerstones of an Englishness that people could be proud of.

“Let’s play to our strengths: our shared history within these islands; our strong regional identities going back centuries. Let’s also look to the other things that bind us together as English and British, modernising and strengthening them rather than neglecting them or imagining they are the problem.”

Among those were “the very particular but surprisingly enduring threads of our history, such as monarchy and church; and from the more recent past the NHS and even the BBC World Service”.

Dear reader, some of these things are not the same as others.

This renewed patriotism would bind us together the Archbishop suggested as he urged Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish sports teams to sing God Save The Queen before international sporting matches. When teams from across the UK play one another, they should sing their individual anthems before they “sing our national anthem together”.

This idea of a return to the 70s extinguishing the cultural shifts that have engulfed us could only be suggested because the equivalent transformations have only traced over England, and the institutions and structures of the bygone era remain in place, like an analogue world co-exisiting in a digital reality. Andrew is out of time.


Comments (17)

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  1. James Mills says:

    ”Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” is a good guide for those seeking independence for Scotland .

    The institutions of this Union are definitely showing signs of severe stress at this time .

    The Westminster Government ( presently composed of a band of incompetents who can’t even do corruption in the way it was always done by their predecessors ) is currently drowning in a sea of problems , mostly of their own making .

    The BBC ( particularly in Scotland ) has thrown off any pretence of impartiality and is ”doing what it says on the tin ! ”

    Then we have the monarchy – a Ruritanian dynasty come to life . Peopled with characters that come from a by-gone age .
    The Matriarch – lovable to many but with the instincts of a cunning velociraptor when anything threatens her domain .
    The Prince – living in a cocoon of privilege , unable to see that he is as relevant today as a codpiece .
    The Black Prince – like a B movie ‘bad guy ‘ , finding his deeds catching up with him in the last reel .
    The ‘Young ‘ Princes – tainted with the history of their father’s/mother ‘s infidelities – am I my father’s son ? – Barabra Cartland at its most saccharine !

    No wonder Netflix cashed in on this mob – a ready made soap opera for the vicarious multitude still in thrall to this never-ending , State commissioned distraction from reality .

    1. Squigglypen says:

      Sitting here laughing at your article…..ah you fair cheered me up.

    2. Papko says:

      I can’t argue with your reasoning.
      Everywhere you look the Union looks like a tree long dead.
      If it wasn’t for Nicola Sturgeon and her iron grip , I dare say the Union would of dissolved a few years ago.

  2. Squigglypen says:

    Brilliant article.
    I really object to that shower hiding/ cowering in our country. Compulsory purchase of Balmoral and kick the excrement oot.
    Seeing that pic of her nibs and randy Andy twitching the curtains to see if we are coming to get them makes me smile in a sort of grim way….
    Why do we put up with them….they are nobodies….a German family masquerading as solid British patriots..(no offence to the Germans)..but take them back…..we have no further use for them..if we ever did……they have to go….the noo. Add in Westmonster and its Christmas come early.

  3. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    The Archbishop seems oblivious of the fact that the so-called ‘National’ anthem contains the line exhorting God, “rebellious Scots to crush”. I infer from his statement that the Archbishop believes “Scots” are a dangerous group which, somehow, is not connected to Scotland, the one he, presumably thinks is part of England, which, as I have often been told, with ingenuous sincerity, “ is the same thing as Britain”.

  4. Carol (Mothership Empathy) says:

    May I repeat and emphasise a statement from an above comment?
    “Brilliant article”! (I am in agreement, Squigglypen)
    For ME, it is good to hear other people’s opinions in these Crushing Chaotic times.

    What on Earth has it come to? (For planet and people)
    I draw strength too from both “sensible” commentators above and thankfully many others.
    Life is a learning process.
    Listening and learning through an understanding and logical – (Common sense)

    Born in the sixties I CAN connect to Mike’s logic.
    From childhood I could not get enough of my local “Queen’s Park”.
    Bonding with Gaia (Mother Earth) and those gifts with an abundance in nature and all interconnecting little life-forms.
    I remember holding on to my mother’s hand and asking, “Does it belong to the Queen mummy”?
    As it seemed “Wrong” to me even from a very young age.

    I knew of this “Vastly” wealthy person in fur lined robes and crown, with servants to look after her many lands and dwellings, (by the looks of things)
    for her and HER family)

    In nearly sixty years, I have watched in my lifetime, the “Consumption” of Gaia, for Capitalism etc.
    That (G) hits a spot for the FEW.
    But know, that Rape and Pillage for those (out of control) “Parasites” will see,
    “A (PRINCE)ly sum for us All – to pay”!

    Classical memories have come and gone, but ultimately Gaia will show the way, as we step forward to new Quantum possibilities in these –
    “Fractal” hidden times”.


  5. Daniel Raphael says:

    God and flag. Oh, and the class of our natural superiors, of course.

    That does summarize the toxic mix that’s poisoning the barrel. Past time for a thorough cleaning, eh?

  6. Bill says:

    An excellent article Mike. The older I get, the more Republican I become. As we get more information, the dear sweet old lady dedicated to our service becomes a vicious grasping granny with her fixation on cash(ours) and retention of privileges. Boy Prince has inherited the same greedy grasping tendencies and the other one has really lost the plot.

    How can one allegedly Christian, Head of the Church, and Head of State, reconcile that position with a State that has so much inequality, food banks, children and adults starving to death and so much cruelty directed to the poor and defenceless? We need to be shot of the lot of them. An independent Scottish Republic, funded by a land tax, with its own currency and dedicated to a humane equal society is what is required. Never mind a referendum, just use this current disgusting and flagrant example of “Divine Right” as ammunition for a campaign to get rid of them.

    Hope springs eternal – again Mike great article and keep up the good work


  7. Gavin says:

    “Hello caller, and what have you to say to our listeners today”?

    “Hello, hello, I’m Pri……..I’m Andy, and I have Lolita Syndrome”!

    “Well, caller. That’s a new one to most of us. What is this Syndrome”?

    “Em, ur, it’s just that I like my girls to be, well……….girls, and although the men in my family have ALWAYS had the pick of each generation, everyone is now picking on me, as if it was wrong”!

    “That’s because it IS wrong, Andy. Have to had treatment for this”?

    “No, no…it was…..we had…..our right….. the Droit de Seigneur, then we had Debs balls, where the girls were REALLY young, and all my ancestors got away with it. Why can’t I”?

    “I’m cutting you off now Andy, and reporting this call to the authorities. I suggest you seek help. Start with your family, perhaps”!

    “Mumsie is standing right next to me—you’re just like all the rest. I’m allowed….allowed I tell you. If I was the first born you would know all about it…………froth, spit, drool”!!!!!!!!!

  8. Wul says:

    The world has changed and The Royals didnae notice.

    I wonder if Andy’s sweating now?

  9. Colin Robinson says:


    British celebrity, the Duke of York, denies allegations that he ‘had’ ten thousand men.

  10. SleepingDog says:

    Dramatising the British royal family risks drawing obvious similarities between other organized crime family dramatisations. However, as imperial overlords and world leaders of the anti-democracy movement, the royal members have been quite functional and very active, although according to Norman Baker in the chapter on the Grand Old Duke of Sleaze (in And What Do You Do? What the Royal Family Don’t Want You to Know (2020)), the official evaluation of Andrew’s overseas role was kept secret (p265 “in general he seems drawn to tyrants and torturers in his choice of contacts and countries”).

    Small fact check: CDs are a digital, not an analogue format.
    One of the main reasons for using rational international standards is to achieve optimal interoperability. While the design of the imperial royal family is to make it as non-interchangeable (proprietary, closed and resistant to upgrades) as possible.

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      ‘One of the main reasons for using rational international standards is to achieve optimal interoperability.’

      That’s indeed the capitalist justification for imperialism, globalisation, and homogeneity. For ‘optimal interoperability’ read ‘commodification’.

  11. Tom Ultuous says:

    I don’t suppose James Forsythe was suggesting we send them to negotiate with the Taliban?

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      And why not? We have trade deals with Qatar and the UAE, whose regimes are broadly similar ideologically and sympathetic to the Taliban’s mission.

      And didn’t Prince Andrew help broker such deals as a trade envoy?

      1. I think a trip to Kabul for Prince Andrew is a good idea

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          I’m sure the Taliban would welcome the legitimacy such a trip would bring its régime.

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