This afternoon I am not watching the Diamond Jubilee Pageant. In fact if I didn't have Sunday responsibilities I would be at the republican protests.
The idea of a hereditary head of a state seems entirely irrational to me. The idea that somebody should have the job of head of state for life for the simple reason that their parent was also the head of state is, well, just silly.
But what offends me most is the language of monarchy. Our language reinforces ideas of hierarchy and class divisions - when we say "your highness" or "your majesty" we are explicitly saying that Elizabeth Windsor is a better human being than the rest of us. As Will Self said in a recent piece I heard
, "while our society may pay lip service to equality of opportunity, our fundamental values remain those of inherited wealth and privilege... Yes, deference is the key - and with each bent knee, each ma'am and sir and Your Majesty, we reaffirm that this is the way things are meant to be."
This seems very clearly to me contrary to the idea of the inherent worth and dignity of every
person. Unitarianism has always had a foundation of spiritual equality leading to a belief in democracy. Given this it surprises me how many Unitarians seem to want to celebrate the monarchy.
I have a constitutional allergic reaction to anything resembling sycophantic hero worship, whether it's to the latest boyband, the queen, or even Jesus. It seems terribly unhealthy to me to have the sort of investment in others, reinforcing a sense of your own inferiority. Jesus seemed to agree, warning against special titles and privilege. The wealth, privilege and inherited power the country seems intent on celebrating this weekend couldn't be further away from the teaching of Jesus if they tried.
Practically I'm not entirely sure what I would replace the monarchy with. I'm actually not convinced it needs to be replaced with anything/one. One of the phrases in the Will Self essay
interested me: "The difficulty for the monarchy is thus not that they are symbolic - but that unlike the transcendent God of the great monotheisms, they are not symbolic enough."
The monarchy is not symbolic enough. Actually I think I would like to keep all the symbolism of the monarchy, and just remove the human being. I would still have "the Crown" - and the Crown could become symbolically the centre of the nation. I would have the Crown (literally) arrive in a stately carriage for the state opening of Parliament, there just wouldn't be a person underneath it. We could hold One Last Coronation where we would crown the nation, crown us. The Crown would sit on all our heads, and be a symbol of The People. How about the royalty of every citizen as a foundation for our nation? That's something I would happily celebrate.