Why do we celebrate one person’s right to a job for life when they never interviewed for the position asks Matthew Lacey.
Wednesday this week, upwards of 1000 people stood patiently at Tweedbank railway station in the Scottish Borders. Not crowding onto a platform to make their way to a work place cubicle, instead in a car park to catch a glimpse of an 89 year old grandmother (and lest we forget, great-grandmother). She was here to open a new railway line. She had also become Britain’s longest standing monarch.
At around 5.30 p.m. on the 9th September, Queen Elizabeth II surpassed the 63 years, 7 months, 2 days, and handful of hours that Queen Victoria was on the throne to obtain the longest reign in British history. An occasion celebrated here and around the world with well wishes from prime ministers, presidents and others from the Commonwealth and beyond. The love for QEII felt almost omnipresent.
The position she occupies brings with it a £40m a year paycheque and wealth through an array of assets; from property up and down the kingdom to marine land, art and fine jewellery, through to the worlds largest stamp collection. Her property value via the Crown Estate has more than doubled to £11 billion since the global financial crisis in 2007; QEII seemingly has benefited from the ongoing inflation of the housing bubble.
But at a time when the number of people on zero hour contracts has reportedly risen 19% in a year to 744,000 and unemployment is rising, should we be revering one who has never been held accountable for her position that brings with it such immense wealth – especially when that wealth is predominantly at the hands of her subjects?
The answer depends on your view of democracy.
As is the case in many countries that hold onto their royal stock we are told (by the monarchy) that the monarchy gives us a ‘focus for national identity’ and ‘a sense of stability and continuity’. One can argue that it is positive for the British brand overseas, as even in the Middle East she is apparently well liked. The Royal family stimulates tourism and makes economic sense – its estimated that it lands the UK somewhere in the region of a £26 billion benefit annually; whilst the number of tourists in the UK just to see if the Queen is at Buckingham Palace is hard to pin down, no doubt many make a trip to London for this reason. Based on income, the monarchy is a doing a great job.
But herein lies the issue that runs rampant through our free society – nowhere is there the moral imperative considered. Almost nowhere beyond the balance sheet do we ask the question is this right? It is merely the way we have done things before and so it shall remain. It seems that if the monetary measure is positive, nothing else is relevant.
At some point in the very near future the crown will pass onto the heir apparent, the Prince of Wales based purely on his bloodline. Unlike his mother he has seemingly abused his position and attempted to influence numerous political interests and when he becomes king, he will be the only British citizen who can appoint a prime minister, can declare war or peace and sign bills into law, as well as become Commander-in-Chief. Many of these roles are of course considered ceremonial, but that makes the arrangement all the more objectionable. That it is considered part of a ritual to be the one person able to outwardly select our head of government or be the leader of our armed forces adds to the ridicule. It is appalling that we continue to tolerate an environment whereby regardless of qualification, those at the top remain there.
Unlike most, the Queen has never had to interview for her job or justify why she is the right person to be looking over us from the peak of the pyramid. Yet she has been there longer than anyone in history. Add to that the only people eligible to take over on her retirement are her immediate family, and this lauding could be construed as a rather warped piece of satire. If a Windsor is the right person for the job, then a vote to vindicate that is nothing to fear.
Instead, this is the dichotomy we are presented with; a system that ensures that the ‘haves’ are celebrated and applauded for their good fortune without the burden of competition, whilst the have ‘nots’ are discarded and disregarded, all the while the illusion of a united identity and big society being pressed upon them from on high. This convivial deception is rampant and bleeds down every avenue of our society. We should recognise that too many aspects of our system give credence to the feeling that we cannot effect change, only change can affect us; precisely the inverse is true.
Matthew Lacey is a Renegade Inc. contributor
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