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The Micawberism of Monarchism

July 11, 2015


Mr Micawber, you’ll remember from David Copperfield, was always waiting for “something to turn up”.  His precarious finances which always left him slightly but fatally in the red never dented his faith in futurity.

Monarchism is a species of Micawberism insofar as the recurring and structural problems with monarchy are answered by looking to another generation.  The Elizabethans who cannot bring themselves to transfer the same degree of loyalty to a future King Charles talk of Charles maybe stepping aside to make way for  the next generation (he won’t).  Yet Charles himself was a dashing young pilot once – at least in the public imagination.

Given the extreme longevity of very rich people, by the time William succeeds to the throne, he’ll be a grumpy looking bald man.  Except that he’s already a grumpy looking bald man.  If Charles lives to be 90 then King William will be a frustrated bald man in his late fifties.   Assuming of course that Charles does not give up real medicine altogether and insist on homeopathic remedies – in which case he may go sooner.

When Charles was William’s age – younger than William in fact – Mike Yarwood did impressions of him.  Charles was a public figure.  We knew his voice, his mannerisms.  No impressionist to my knowledge has ever performed a Prince William impression, because he’s never spoken long enough or memorably enough in public for his voice to lodge in the collective public memory bank.  Indeed he gives every impression of hating public appearances.

Is it not a species of singular cruelty to force anyone to do a job for which they have no aptitude or enthusiasm?  Anyone with a particle of love or respect for this man should surely want to proclaim a republic and set him free to run a riding school in Norfolk or something.

And now of course there’s George and Charlotte.  Now William is much younger than I am, so under no circumstances will I ever get to see a King George.  Even if sanity and republicanism take a few more generations to prevail.  But I wish them all the best.  And the best is for them to escape the cruel warping of family life that the hereditary principle imposes.  I hope they can be real people, judged on their own qualities, rather than breeders whose job is to wait and reproduce.  The monarchy does not train people from birth.  It traumatises people from birth.

Even the unpopular Charles is a victim of sorts.  With a distant mother and a very scary father – he sought the mentorship of Lord Mountbatten – a vainglorious brute with an unerring knack for getting people killed and one of the most internationally hated people of the twentieth century.

Perhaps, say monarchists, the younger royals will buck the trend of marital betrayal and parental cruelty that has characterised this dynasty ever since it arrived in 1714.  But if you keep rolling the dice and keep getting the same results even the most irrepressible and shrill variants of Micawberism start to look a little desperate.


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