Royal baby, but what happens to plebs like us?
by Amna Riaz
Concerning the frenzy and ‘excitement’ over the royal baby, many news channels have again taken to depicting a homogeneous celebratory British society. Ah yes how proud are we to partake in the royal celebrations and so proud to be British. Wait, what, why? Why are we so proud to be British? Whilst on a personal level I’m happy that a woman has delivered a baby safely it is something millions of women are doing every day every year, many of them not safely and without the luxuries offered at the expense of the taxpayer may I add.
At a time when we are suffering from the disastrous effects of the current government’s austerity project, David Cameron, his coalition and the media now have a perfect chance to exploit the birth of this child (as they have done with other Royal occasions). This outdated aristocratic institution is called upon time and time again to conceal the suffering of the rest of us, while this royal child (whom the public have no real connection with and to) will grow up and enjoy an unparalleled privileged upbringing and lifestyle at the taxpayers expense due to an accident of birth.
At the same time millions of other children born today and in the future will have to bear the brunt of the damaging cuts to public services and OUR welfare state. Yes we, the rest of us, fought to secure the right for every child in Britain to have a free education, health service access to housing and employment (with a minimum wage). The not so royal family have every ability for self-sufficiency and, let’s exploit this word, ‘competitiveness’ to look after themselves. So let the people privatise the royal family. Why not? When every other public institution is being privatised why not this one? Forget the left and right wing dichotomies for a second and have a real discussion over our economy. Textbook economics in particular of Hayek and co are as helpful to our understanding of economics and economic relations as the Bible is in explaining the Big Bang (so not helpful at all). They are outdated theories of bygone times. Liberalism, as Carl Schmitt puts it, is a free floating fallacy (and he is a liberal), since the rule of law has no chance of protecting itself in the face of war or disorder. In the very same way, the free market is an archaic libertarian dream that won’t solve our current problems.
Consider – the amount spent on the royals could instead go into filling gaps in the services that have been cut; money well spent. It is simply inexcusable that poverty and income inequality has increased in past five years; just take a look at the growth of food banks in the country, yet we have enough spare coins to fund a plush institution. Yes, I know the arguments about how many tourist dollars the Royals pull in, so why then can we not afford to keep Lewisham A & E open? If David Cameron wants society to ‘live within their means’, then so should the royals. Daily Mail – aren’t these royals ‘lazy spongers’, only with a posh accent? I don’t see the royals harassed in the same way as the working class ‘scrounger’.
The royal family own large parts of agricultural lands, which in theory could be used to build more social homes, therefore helping tackle the housing shortage, bring down extortionate house and rent prices, and perhaps bringing in some local employment in construction. The royal family may attract tourism, but Britain can still attract tourism without them. A museum with a list of countries we enslaved during our colonial ventures – job done. See the Royal Finances. This argument goes both ways; if they attract tourism then naturally they push up prices and expenses in the local area. London is extortionate to live in – just look at the economic and racial segregation. Additionally the royal family is an undemocratic institution. Yes this point has been made over and over again by many, nothing new here. But frankly it is embarrassing when we are attempting to convert ‘all those undemocratic countries’ (Iraq, Syria, Somalia? Insert your choice of country here) towards democracy when we have an unelected and hereditary head of state at our own doorstep. If a hereditary prime minister would be classed as undemocratic why isn’t the monarchy?
The royal family represents cultural and racial superiority; there will never be a black or ethnic minority or mixed race head of state. One only has to cast their minds back to when Price Harry called a British soldier (of a minority ethnic background) a ‘Paki’. He made headlines again when dressed up as a Nazi. How in touch with modern society is the royal family? It is infuriating that the likes of William and Harry – white, male elites – are supposed to be representing the British people on their ‘world tours’. The host countries have little or no idea of Britain’s 1.9 million non-white population. They simply don’t exist. I couldn’t care less what Harry does in his spare time, but I do if I fund his parties and his bigoted views. Their reliance on the state is simply a gross violation of the public purse. If Harry was a minister, his actions would have had him dismissed by now or he would have had to resign, yet this will not occur because he inherits his position. The royals’ patriarchal family relations are blood boiling; see how the late Princess Diana’s sexual history was investigated before being considered a suitable partner for Prince Charles.
Kate and William’s love story is a far cry from the arranged marriage of his parents and Kate is not (and thank god!) royalty, but she is certainly not the ‘commoner’ the media often try to depict her as. She is also aristocratic or at least very upper middle class. The role of the head of state is elitist and exclusive economically and racially. The royal family have not made a contribution to society, unless their existing and surviving is one of them. If we want to really celebrate Britain’s ‘civic body’ we should look to the real people of Britain that truly represent Britain and British values (whatever they may be). We should look to the people who work hard to truly make a difference in our lives such as our nurses, teachers, doctors, single mums, local charities etc. These are our civic players and these are the people who we should look up to and be excited about and these should be our heroes and heroines.
Amna G Riaz writes poetry on the themes of identity politics which covers racism, (neo)orientalism (neo)-colonialism and neoliberalism. She also makes videos of some (as spoken poetry) on her YouTube channel. Apart from poetry, she writes about neoliberal theory and practice, capitalism and the politics of development, Islamophobia and intersectional feminism at her blog. Tweet her @AmnaGRiaz