By Jessica Ings and Charlie Williams
And so it goes on. St. James’s Palace announces Kate Middleton is expecting a baby, and Britain braces itself for another barrage of royalist propaganda and media celebration. Union Jacks abound at the news that the Windsor seed remains potent, bringing the prospect of a royal child who will galvanize a new generation of crown loving proletariats.
On a recent visit to New York City, we were often asked, “What’s with your queen? How come you guys still fall for that shit?” They’re good questions. Stray anywhere outside of the Commonwealth and few people understand how this antiquated system, which costs the taxpayers 41 million pounds ($66 million) a year, was not ousted long ago. One might be forgiven for believing that the monarchy has been dying a slow but dignified death. It certainly endured a rough patch. The “fairy tale” marriage of Prince Charles and Diana was overshadowed by scandals that exposed the more brutal forces in the royal aristocracy, which were further agitated by the conspiracy theories and media scrutiny after Diana’s death.
But the truth is, royalism is back and bigger than ever. The family has been restructured and rebranded, with a handsome young couple poised to take the helm carrying a healthy baby in their womb. The infant is not just a symbol of the continuation of this system; it also provides the final brick in the road to royalist adoration renewed in the hearts and minds of the British population.
Sovereign celebration in the U.K. has been unrelenting over the last two years. In 2011 millions of Brits cheered, gushed and wet their knickers at the sight of two privileged newlyweds snogging on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The motherless Prince William married a beautiful “middle-class” girl named Kate from the Yorkshire countryside. With tight bums, trendy threads and youthful vigor, the two have infused the royal family with a fresh and rejuvenated sex appeal. Media coverage surrounding this most sacred of weddings was uncompromising. Everyone was cashing in. Commemorative crap spewed from shop windows as homes all over Britain made space for souvenir tea cozies, HM embossed doilies and Union Jack toilet rolls. For the die-hards who felt the endless TV coverage was not enough, there was Will and Kate the movie: “Let Love Rule.” And for those who felt the coverage wasn’t sexy enough, there was Will and Kate the porno: “A Royal Romp.” (See VBS TV for a fantastic portrait of the nutcracker royalist and anti-royalist responses to the wedding.)
Just as we thought marriage mania might be starting to peter out, we were faced with the prospect of the queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The nation watched closely as the 86-year-old monarch tottered out to smile glumly at the 1.3 billion pounds ($2 billion) spent celebrating her six-decade reign. Remarkably, this acted only as a public reminder that perhaps the queen wasn’t as stern and austere as we always thought. Additionally, how could anyone be opposed to a woman who produces such beautiful and respectable grandchildren? The Olympics provided further opportunity for the royals to strut their stuff on a big stage. Her majesty was even crazy enough to cameo alongside James Bond. And let us not forget that lovable scamp Harry, the liquor-liking, strip-billiard-playing rascal who serves to show that we Brits aren’t so stiff after all.
All this royal celebration brings added benefits. Extra public holidays invite boozy four-day weekends, street parties and an excuse to wave a Union Jack flag without being accused of having an alliance with the extreme-right British National Party. Royalism is perhaps the only palpable form of unity left in modern Britain, and the population feeds off it like a gnat to a rash. The royal family is as sacred and protected as it is wealthy. We complain incessantly that our politicians are earning too much and abuse their expense privileges. Yet we are happy to let plutocrats eat caviar coated swan breast while sitting in gilded chairs and living in castles, so long as they reward us with the occasional royal wave in return. They are, after all, members of the perfect family, and only a newborn could make them more attractive.
Babies are notoriously popular, and the British population will watch attentively as the royal progeny develops into the perfect little child: never shitting, never whining, always waving. Boy or girl, it will undoubtedly receive the unconditional love of millions. Now that we have the ideal family, British royalism looks set to sail far into the future. God save the queen.
Jessica Ings and Charlie Williams are young British writers from Norwich who grew up uncritically accepting the monarchy in which they live.
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William greet the public during a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne.