A Modest Proposal For The British Monarchy

The Economist had a hilariously prescient take on the subject back in 2020:

Already Harry and Meghan are rewriting the rules of royalty, so that they can behave as celebrities rather than as public servants. They are planning to abandon the system of royal reporting, whereby royals put up with journalists chosen by the papers, who share their material with the rest of the press. Harry and Meghan intend to back out of that, in favour of choosing their preferred media toadies—though since it appears that they want to continue to receive money from Prince Charles, the older generation has a certain amount of leverage. Negotiations are under way. The Palace held a “crisis summit” on January 13th to try to work out a peace treaty between the Crown and the Sussexes. Ms Markle, who is in Canada, did not attend, leaving Harry to defend the Sussexes’ corner against his grandmother, father and brother.

Branding experts purr that Harry and Meghan have an interest in preserving the integrity of their brand. But the logic of 21st-century capitalism is against a peaceful settlement. They will need more than Prince Harry’s inheritance, which is estimated at £20m-30m, to keep up with the global super-rich. Ensuring that their brand remains hot and providing their “distribution channels” with “content” will require them to extract more and more value from the monarchy—perhaps including revelations about racism and sexism at the heart of the royal family. The daylight that Walter Bagehot said should not be let in upon the magic of monarchy is as nothing to the glare of 21st-century capitalism.

One can imagine the pretenders to the thrones of various European countries having a conversation in 2100:

French pretender: we lost our throne because we lost the Franco-Prussian War.

German pretender: we lost our throne because we lost WWI.

Italian pretender: we lost our throne because we lost WWII.

British pretender: we lost our throne because one old person wasn’t entirely thrilled at having a half-Black grandson.

But there’s a bit of a snag, the British monarchy brings in a lot of tourist dollars. Granted, choosing your form of government on the basis that tourists like these quaint old traditions is the kind of thing you expect from some Himalayan mini-state rather than a world power, but it’s apparently a real issue. So, I propose the Vatican City solution. Buckingham palace becomes its own independent Kingdom, while the UK becomes the UR. The Queen is still Queen, the castles are still castles, everyone wins.

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