The Duke of Edinburgh dies – Time for the Monarchy to pass away

By Rob Sewell

Earlier today, Buckingham Palace announced the death of his Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the age of 99. 

The establishment eulogies have flowed in rapidly since.

Boris Johnson, speaking from Downing Street, said that the Duke had “inspired the lives of countless young people”.

“He helped to steer the Royal Family and the Monarchy,” the Prime Minister stated, “so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.”

The PM was followed by the grovelling Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, who said: “The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in Prince Philip, who dedicated his life to our country.”

The BBC – a mouthpiece for the British establishment – is full of stories about what a “tough life” Philip (described as “an extraordinary man”) led as a standard bearer for his country.

Such praise is to be expected from supporters of the establishment and the British Monarchy, which is a vital component in propping up the existing order.

Rotten relic

No doubt the Duke’s death will be used to promote and celebrate British nationalism, flag-waving, and the institutions of pomp and privilege. It will be used to promote the Royal Family as an essential cornerstone of the ‘British way of life’.

The Monarchy, however, is not some privileged, pampered, holy-of-holies. It is a relic that has been left over from the days of feudalism, representing the interests of the powerful landowning classes. Abolished by the English Revolution in the 17th century, the Monarchy was restored and became a useful tool for the new merchant and bourgeois class.

Although disliked and disparaged by the masses until quite recently, in modern times the British Monarchy was given a ‘make-over’ and anointed with a mystical gloss. Standing above politics, it was to become a key component in the preservation of capitalism. This was revealed by Walter Bagehot in his writings on the Constitution.

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Reserve of reaction

Millions of pounds of public funds are spent on the upkeep of the Royal Family. This is not to maintain the Monarchy as a tourist attraction or an historic novelty, but for far more serious reasons.

The Monarchy is deliberately built up in the public mind as the pinnacle of the nation and the defender of the faith.

The armed forces swear allegiance, not to Parliament, but to the Monarch. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Monarch, as head of her government. The opposition in Parliament is referred to as ‘Her Majesty’s Opposition’. The Queen (or King) has the power to appoint and dismiss governments and dissolve Parliament.

The Monarch has enormous reserve powers under the British constitution, which is unwritten. These powers are deliberately kept in the shadows in ‘normal’ times, hidden from public scrutiny.

This weapon is held precisely in reserve. It is only to be used in times of great crisis, where the capitalist system is under threat.

These hidden powers would, for example, be deployed by the establishment to block a left Labour government, if it threatened their class interests.

The full force of the constitution would be used – backed up by the law courts and the Privy Council – to destabilise a left-wing government. The powers of the Crown would be brought into play to dismiss the elected government for the sake of ‘national security’.

Scandal and sleaze

For the Monarchy to play such a role in the future, its reputation as standing above politics – of neutrality – must be preserved. Part of this is to build up the mystery surrounding the Royal Family, who must not be regarded as ordinary mortals. They are the ‘untouchables’.

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Sadly for them, the scandals that have rocked the Royal Family over the past decades have tarnished their reputation. The recent spat with Harry and Meghan came as a bitter blow. It revealed the inner workings of the Monarchy, including their reactionary attitudes.

Ditto with the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew, and his links to alleged paedophile pimp Jeffrey Epstein.

“In an 85-minute-long interview that was breathtaking in its audacity,” wrote the editor of the Daily Mail, commenting on the recent Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan, “she [Meghan] and Harry stripped away what few vestiges of mystery the Monarchy had left, reducing it to the dimensions of a tawdry soap opera, while making the Palace and its advisers seem malevolent and destructive.”

The Mail editor went on:

“As a historian, Boris Johnson knows that the Monarchy is a major pivot of the British constitutional system and if anything is done or said to weaken the institution – such as accusing one of its senior figures of racism – then it is the duty of the Prime Minister to advise the Queen of the Government’s view.

“And it is why this interview has opened up much more than just an irreparable schism with the Royal Family. It presents a clear and present danger for the future of the monarchy.” (Daily Mail, 9/3/21)

Therefore, everything is done, including cover-ups, to protect the Monarchy against public scrutiny and preserve its “vestiges of mystery”.

Racist and bigoted

No doubt, the death of the Duke of Edinburgh will be used by the establishment to eulogise the Monarchy, praise “its extraordinary public service”, and white-wash this feudal institution.

This is ironic, given Prince Philip’s notoriety for racists jokes and comments. It is public knowledge. It was well-rehearsed bigotry. But these were excused by fawning journalists as mere ‘gaffes’, to be brushed under the carpet.

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Ridiculous

Is it therefore surprising that racism surfaced in the Royal household over Meghan’s baby?

This privileged, cloistered life of the Monarchy was well dramatised in the TV series, The Crown. Philip’s social life was well documented. No wonder the Royalists wanted it censored!

Abolish the Monarchy!

Unlike the ‘patriotic’ Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, socialists should argue for the complete abolition of the Monarchy, which is a feudal relic and a dangerous reserve weapon of the ruling class.

Apparently, Starmer was named after Keir Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party. But, unlike Starmer, Hardie was no Royalist.

As a member of Parliament, in February 1893, Hardie opposed the address to the throne, instead moving an amendment demanding that the government pay attention to the condition of the unemployed. This provoked indignation from the Tories and Liberals.

By contrast, we now have the sickening spectacle of ‘Sir’ Starmer – a knight of the realm – bowing down before the capitalist establishment.

The Labour Party, under Starmer, announced today that it would be suspending election campaigning, “out of respect” for the Monarchy.

If the party was worth its salt, it would stand by the principles of Keir Hardie in this matter, and call for the abolition of the Monarchy, the House of Lords, and all the other feudal relics of the British establishment.

We say:

  • Away with class privileges, pomp, and class distinctions!
  • Down with the Monarchy! Down with the capitalist system!
  • For a socialist system that abolishes inequality! Fight for a society run in the interests of the majority, not these privileged parasites!

Published at www.socialist.net