For years, many nations – kingdoms – supported feudal ideologies of class supremacy in which the circumstances of birth decided the worth of a human being, even more so than today. Remnants of this broken system remain today: royal families and other bits of monarchy in otherwise modern and democratic nations. The world still loves its royalty, which not only is supported by the taxpayers, but enjoy unparalleled privilege, blind adoration, and in many cases also lifelong, residual power in politics. For these reasons as well as many others, it is about time the monarchy is dismantled.
While abolishing the monarchy is not one of my top concerns, there are things with which I take issue. I was reminded of this when I found out that it is Queen Elizabeth's ninetieth birthday today. I do not really care about the trivial events of so-called royalty, so I also did not know – and will not remember next year – when the British queen's birthday is, but Twitter told me with a hashtag: #HappyBirthdayYourMajesty. I sent a quick tweet to show my lack of support for the monarchy (see tweet embedded below), but thought I should also update my blog as it was quite some time since I did last time.
I will not go into detail on why I oppose the monarchy, but will give three brief reasons: 1) the official status of the monarchy and the residual political power, without any elections, 2) the privilege of the monarchy, including but not limited to immunity from prosecution and tax-payer funded lifestyles, and 3) the antiquated tribute to a system of dictatorial oppression and genocide.
What I see as the biggest issue is the residual power of a monarch, combined with the official and undemocratic nature of the monarchy. Unelected officials should not exist, but do even in many secular democracies. Great Britain is a good example, where the House of Lords is comprised of bishops in the Church of England and life peers who are appointed by the monarch. As I understand it, the House of Lords has less power than the House of Commons (the Parliament), which is an elected body. However, the House of Lords – and thus the monarch – does have political power, which is an absolute travesty. Political power should neither be lifelong nor unelected. And no religious institution should have political power either; it is a violation of church-state separation.
Other than the political power, limited as it may be, the monarch in his or her official capacity represents the nation. They do this, again without being elected. They are simply chosen because they were born to the correct family – a "royal" bloodline. In addition to this, as I mention in point two, immunity from prosecution is another privilege of monarchs. The ruling monarch of Sweden, for example, has complete immunity. While I do not think the "King" would commit murder, he can do it without any legal repercussions. He can speed all he wants. Or perhaps punch someone he does not like. Whatever. He does, of course, have an image to protect, but it is still fundamentally wrong to exclude citizens from the weight of the law, while also giving them additional privilege and power over other citizens.
Finally, we get to the third point. Many people seem to like having a royal family, and essentially wish to keep the monarchy alive on life support, because it is tradition. Many also love their history and celebrate past monarchs in one way or another. One extreme example is the political party called the Sweden Democrats – a far-right, nationalist party in Sweden. They think true Swedes must pledge allegiance to the ruling monarch. While it is immigrants' citizenship they wish to delegitimize, even I do not meet all their requirements for "true Swede." However, even normal people use "tradition" as a go-to argument against anything challenging the status quo.
I do not see the tradition of monarchy or past monarchs in quite the same light as said people. Monarchy is but a fancier word for dictatorship, and monarch for dictator. By celebrating our past monarchs, we are essentially celebrating a history of dictatorship, oppression, and, in many cases, genocide. It is a bit like celebrating Christopher Columbus: considered okay by traditionalists, but quite perverse if you stop to think about it.
By preserving the royal families, we are also in a sense saying that there are people who are born special and others who are mere lowborn. As a person of generally leftist persuasion, one of my core values is that all human beings are of equal worth; nobody is inherently worth more than any other person. In agreement with this core value, many people condemn caste systems, slavery, and dictatorships, but they still celebrate the remnants of oppressive feudal societies in which the masses were considered inferior than the God-chosen monarchs. I feel that a history of monarchy is nothing to celebrate and the monarchy is not worthy of preservation.
I know that most people may not agree with me on this and it is just a humble, lowborn opinion, but I for one am ready to let the monarchy be systematically and completely dismantled in the coming years. Our history will not disappear, buildings and art of historical significance will still attract tourists, and elected officials can represent their nation just fine, without the need for any monarch. It is past due for western democracies – as well as the rest of the world – to transcend the regressive values of systems of monarchy.
Oh, and happy ninetieth, Elizabeth.