Monday, October 09, 2006

The Queen and the Cassandras

The air seems to be thick with recanting republicans. Helen Mirren has made much of her new found admiration for the Queen since portraying her in the much-praised film The Queen, and Jeremy Paxman has been publicising his latest book, the rather messy and repetitive On Royalty, by talking of his conversion from republicanism to at least a feint type of monarchism.

Should we care? Not really. Anti-monarchism is hugely disproportionately represented amongst the media and cultural establishment. For example, take the London Evening Standard: its most high profile regulars -Will Self, Jonathan Freeland, Johann Hari and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – are all avowed republicans, and frequently allude to the fact in their columns. Yet, despite the power and influence of this metropolitan cabal, it has really failed to move the country at large in a republican direction. According to Mori, the percentages in favour of a monarchy, or wanting a republic, have barely changed over thirty years: an average of 72% versus around 18%. Indeed according to Mori, it’s the steadiest ever trend they’ve monitored. This has remained so even after the implosions and explosions which hit the royal family during the 1990s.

It’s quite a different response however when people are asked whether they see the monarchy surviving this century. Then, the percentage plummets. But this is not to say that they don’t want it to survive; it’s simply that the endless ridicule and wish-fulfilment prophesying of the self-appointed intelligentsia creates an atmosphere where abolition seems inevitable.

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