Feeling sick with Jubilee fever

May 30, 2012 12:29 pm

The next few weeks are going to be hard for me. Yes, I have University exams, and they’re bad enough, and no, I don’t cope well with hot weather, but there’s something much worse bothering me. Can you guess what it is?

Jubilee fever.

As a Welsh nationalist and a republican, my blood is quietly boiling below the surface at the moment. I say ‘quietly’, but in actual fact, I’m frothing at the mouth. Time and again, I have had to justify my views on the monarchy to people who simply can’t understand why I don’t want to celebrate Mrs Windsor’s wonderful 60 years as queen of the United Kingdom.

‘What about all the wonderful work she’s done for our country?’ they ask. My poor mind does somersaults when faced with such a ridiculous question. What work would that be? The endless shaking of hands, holding lunches for Swazi and Bahraini tyrants, and opening of buildings? Yes, such hard work. Never mind the commendable work that teachers and nurses, factory workers and bus drivers, owners of small businesses and community activists do all across Wales and throughout the UK. No, never mind them. Poor Elizabeth works hard.

Times are tough, friends. So much so that the national newspaper of Wales recently had the nerve to suggest that we simply cannot afford to have a fully bilingual national legislature here in Wales, although Welsh is an official language of Wales, and indeed an official language of the National Assembly. We simply can’t afford such luxuries, they said. Of course we can, however, spend £15 billion on the Olympics (the benefit of which Wales will see, I add, will be minimal) and over £1 billion on Jubilee celebrations.

‘Ah ha,’ royalists are quick to shout, ‘we’d be spending this money on an elected Head of State even if we did get rid of the monarchy!’ I don’t deny that for one minute. Surely, though, in a democracy, if we’re spending quite that much money on a Head of State, the person occupying that office should be accountable to the people? What happens if Mrs Windsor falls out of public favour? What can we do about it? Diddly squat. We are but subjects.

Then, of course, there’s the argument that there’s so much history attached to the monarchy – we would be massacring our heritage if we got rid. It’s not my history, not by a long shot. My history is that of The Lord Rhys and his court at Dinefwr, and of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and the incredible skill and power he showed in managing to unify the Welsh kingdoms in the thirteenth century, and of Owain Glyndŵr who raised an army against the English invaders and held the first ever Welsh parliament (or Assembly) at Machynlleth in 1404.

I don’t feel that my history is that of the son of a Welshman, Henry VIII, deciding, through his own ego, to incorporate Wales into England. Nor do I feel that my history is that of the eldest sons of English monarchs since Edward II back in 1301 being given the title of Prince of Wales.

As for the current prince, Charles is but a mouse when placed next to Rhys, Llywelyn, and Owain. Charles has no place meddling in politics, lobbying and putting pressure on the government, simply because of his own views. As a republican, however, it was recently argued that I should rather look forward to Charles becoming king, and I can see why.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘what a party-pooper.’ Not so. I’m a student, remember, so I know at least as well as the rest of you how to have a good time. I just can’t bring myself to rejoice in being reigned over by a multi-billionaire simply because of her bloodline, and archaic English (or arguably, German) tradition. I cannot for the life of me understand why any self-respecting citizen of any country would want to allow the office of Head of State to pass from generation to generation within the same bizarre, inbred family without even having a say in the matter.

I mean no harm to Elizabeth Windsor, or her family. I’m sure they’re quite lovely people – they seem it. I have no doubt that she is gracious, elegant, professional, and has stamina by the bucket-load. (Mind you, I’ve never met her, so I wouldn’t know.) What gets me about her, what really irritates me, is that she is at the top of a hierarchical, unelected, undemocratic hotchpotch of inherited privilege, while the rest of us subjects flounder below her, ready to drop to our knees at the very sight of her perfectly-pressed white gloves, two-inch heels, or even the tip of one of her impressive, if slightly ostentatious, hats.

I think I’ve said my piece for now, and I’d rather stop before I get going on her husband. I don’t think my blood pressure can handle it.

  • Why would we even need a head of state? The yanks haven’t got one. So if they can do without then I’m pretty sure that little old Cymru would be fine.

    We are not bees, we do not need a queen.

    It’s also high time that PC kicked out the unionists and royalists in their ranks.

    • JanetTabs

      As a Yank I can tell you that in the United States the President functions as both Head of Government and Head of State.

      • Cerith Rhys Jones

        I have to agree with @JanetTabs:disqus on that one. As she will be able to you, the President of the United States is, constitutionally, the Head of State, but sovereignty is shared between the President, Congress and the Judiciary. (I think that’s right, isn’t it?) The point, though, is that in the US, the President, as Head of State, is elected by the people, even if it is via electoral colleges. Correct me if you think that I’m wrong, but I would say that the President of the United States commands at least as much respect and majesty as any constitutional monarch.

    • Cerith Rhys Jones

      I do not agree regarding not needing a Head of State at all. Heads of State serve an important function in that they are they are the embodiment of the nation, able to represent it, and certainly, if the Head of State is politically neutral in a system where there is a President and a Prime Minister, is able to maintain continuity. That is something that I will say to Mrs Windsor’s credit, but how influential she has been in that sense is, of course, contested.

      Regarding unionists, I agree. Plaid Cymru believes in eventual independence for Wales, so it makes sense that unionists are not Plaid Cymru members. Until Plaid Cymru is a specifically republican party – which, at the moment, it is not – I would not be in favour of giving royalists the boot. It simply isn’t fair, whether you’re a republican, monarchist or non-committal.

  • Aziz Ramesh

    Whilst respecting your rights as a Welsh person, I completely disagree with everything you say about the monarchy. I am not native British but have lived here for some time now – one of the most surprising things is that of all the countries that the Queen is Queen of, the island of Britain is the least patriotic. In Fiji, every household has a picture of the Queen – they afford her high respect. I realise that all your arguments stay valid despite that point, but it is and interesting thing to note.

    In response to some of your arguments which are completely wrong:

    The Queen is head of state – but she does not exercise power and control over the people, the government does that, you are her subject but she does not define the way you live, she just tries to improve it in what small ways you can. No one is denying the nurses etc. all do a great job, although I don’t know many of them that are still working full time jobs in their 80s?! She works incredibly hard, full days – social events can become as much of a job as anything. She can never make mistakes, never look bad, never do anything wrong, and she doesn’t she is on her job 24/7 – she can’t have a break down and complain because she is stuck with it. Did you know that three quarters of Buckingham Palace is actually made up of offices? Your sentiment that she does not work hard is frankly naive, there are arguably very few people out there who work harder. She does huge amounts of work for many charities – she visits people and makes them happy because they consider her a special person who has taken the time to come see them. There is a reason why millions line the streets at a royal event – she stands for something special.

    As for the ‘Jubilee costs’ that you are talking about – these are not personal costs of the Queen. The reason that this amount of money is being spent, is because the income that will be gained from the event will dwarf what has been spent. They are spending so much so that they can attract tourists and sell merchanise etc. etc. In fact – one argument anti-monarchy people have which I really hate is that the royal family spends public money blabla – if you actually take the time to look into the facts and figures you will see that tourism through royalty and royal merchandise is one of the largest incomes that the British get. Even in this economic climate, London especially takes in an enormous amount of money as a result of our royal family. The world is obsessed with them and this entirely works towards Britain’s favour.

    As a side note, not that it matters – your history being of Lord Rhys is irrelevant – that is like an English person saying that the Queen is nothing to do with their history because their history is of William the Conqueror – a Norman man, not English. It isn’t valid – Wales is part of the commonwealth, it is therefore part of your history.

    You say the royal family is an embarrassment, but frankly the only thing I find embarrassing is the people like you who don’t even know the real facts, pass judgement on what you’ve read in the daily mail and decide we’d be better off without people such as the Queen. In reality, she has done more for you and your country than you could ever dream of doing, and at EIGHTY SIX years old – she is still doing it. To talk about her in such a thankless derogatory way is offensive and shameful to your country. I can tolerate anti-monarchy people, everyone is allowed their opinion, but I cannot tolerate abusive people towards a woman who has devoted her entire life to her country. I personally am proud to have come to this country and be allowed to live under such a gracious Head of State, seperated from politics and with such a good heart, she is one of the few things that is working in this country. It saddens me that some people can’t see that.

    • Cerith Rhys Jones

      Thanks for your comments. I
      find it interesting that you note that the UK is the least patriotic of all Mrs
      Windsor’s realms. The problem I have with the sort of royalism that people in
      the UK show is that it is empty; they are rather more apathetic about the
      monarchy and want a knees up than they actually want to celebrate Mrs Windsor.

      You raise an interesting point
      about Mrs Windsor not actually exercising power and control. That isn’t set by
      law – it’s simply precedent. Also, if she doesn’t use her powers, then why have
      them in the first place? Surely they should be placed in an elected Head of
      State who could exercise them? You note that Mrs Windsor works incredibly hard,
      and I did say in my blog that I’m sure that she’s got stamina by the bucket-load
      but let’s face it, the type of work that she does isn’t by anyone’s standards
      as hard as the work that nurses etc. do. Also, let’s not deny that she gets
      paid enough! I take issue with your belief that her ‘work for many charities’
      is worthwhile if all she does is visit them and ‘[make] them happy.’ That’s
      hardly work.

      I realise that they are not Mrs
      Windsor’s personal costs – they are in fact public costs. The argument that the
      monarchy gives the UK a financial advantage is redundant. The people who go to
      London because of the monarchy don’t actually sit down for tea with her, do
      they? They see the palace, and that’s it. I’m not proposing that Buckingham
      Palace be demolished. It would still be there for the tourists to see if we had
      an elected Head of State and there is a very plausible argument in saying that
      having an elected Head of State would draw more tourists; that could open the
      possibility of opening the whole of the palace as a museum much like the Palace
      of Versailles in France. Even if there were a financial advantage, it would
      only serve London and the South East; the rest of the UK would see no benefit.

      I understand your point that
      the monarchy is part of my history, but what I cannot accept is rejoicing in my
      own country being invaded by England, incorporated into it, the title of Prince
      of Wales being given as some sort of token prize to the heir to the throne, and
      celebrating an English queen who has little or no connection with Wales.

      For the record, I did not say
      that the royal family is an embarrassment, as you say. I am aware of the facts,
      rather than the blind royalism, and so far as the Daily Mail is concerned, I am
      anything but a Tory, so I would rather use the Mail as toilet paper than as an
      actual read. You say that Mrs Windsor has done more for my country than I could
      ever dream of doing, but what exactly does that encompass? She’s opened some
      buildings, signed some bills into law, visited some charities, invented a
      ‘tradition’ of investing the heir to the throne as Prince of Wales in
      Caernarfon Castle, and little else. I do not doubt that Mrs Windsor has a good
      heart, and I say that much in my blog. I’m not questioning her own integrity,
      but as I point out in my blog, what I find repulsive is the system of which she
      is in charge.

      Finally, you note that ‘she is
      one of the few things that is working in this country.’ If you are suggesting
      that average citizens are working, then I would urge you to retract what you
      say (if that is not the case, then I apologise). As my blog clearly states, the
      monarchy is simply the pinnacle of the English establishment; as Dr Gwynfor
      Evans put it, Britishness is little more than ‘a
      political synonym for Englishness which extends English culture over the Scots,
      Welsh and the Irish.’

  • Meinirifan55

    Welsh nationalists, a complete disgrace to Wales! I am a Welsh woman, born and raised and have lived here my entire life. My family all speak Welsh, I speak fluent Welsh and studied my degree in Welsh. People like you however, make the majourity of proud Welsh men and women ashamed of your behaviour, Welsh nationalists! I am so embarrassed for you by your post and your inability to address the Queen properly, perhaps you should use this time more productively and study, enabling you to have more broad minded views. Apalling article, siom enfawr i Gymru fach!

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