Bickering princes. An unpopular, ageing king. A backstabbing ruling class, whose members scheme against one another. A restless labouring class. Empty government coffers. And a parliament filled with crooks and cronies.
No, this isn’t the plot of the next Game of Thrones series, but rather today’s deep crisis of British capitalism.
The self-exiled Prince Harry has heaped yet more dirt on the mounting pile of royal scandals and strife with his newly-released autobiography, Spare, which provides even more salacious smut for the press to plaster on their frontpages.
Alongside the Prince’s recent Netflix documentary, Harry & Meghan, and many interview ‘exclusives’, Spare has offered up a host of humorous insights into the lives of the royals.
But beyond the tabloid sensationalism and personal intrigues, the British ruling class is becoming increasingly concerned about the wider fallout from these revelations.
Above all, the establishment is worried about the declining effectiveness of the monarchy when it comes to fulfilling its primary role: to act as a reserve weapon that can be deployed in times of crisis to defend the status quo.
In many respects, the confessions and incidents outlined in Spare come as no surprise. Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. are commonplace – even habitual – when it comes to the Royal Family.
Recently, for example, Lady Susan Hussey, godmother to Prince William, was forced to apologise to black charity founder Ngozi Fulani, after the former lady-in-waiting persistently asked her in a meeting: “Where are you really from?”
Similarly, footage of King Charles’ petulant behaviour towards his servants, following the Queen’s death last year, helped to underline the arrogance and aloofness of Britain’s latest head of state.
Completely divorced from the lives of ordinary people, it seems that the Royals cannot leave their various palaces without making some kind of gaffe or causing offence to their ‘subjects’.
Letting daylight in
The Victorian constitutionalist and liberal writer, Walter Bagehot, once wrote that:
“Above all things, our royalty is to be reverenced, and if you begin to poke about it you cannot reverence it. When there is a select committee on the Queen, the charm of royalty will be gone. Its mystery is its life. We must not let in daylight upon magic.”
Alongside shows like The Crown, Harry’s various leaks have done precisely this: pull back the curtain and let daylight in on the shadowy, sordid world of Britain’s monarchy.
As the ostracised Prince himself noted in a recent interview, his family’s motto is “never complain, never explain”. But he has done the exact opposite.
By exposing the inner workings of ‘The Firm’, Harry has caused further damage to the monarchy’s already floundering reputation.
Coming on top of the ‘Megxit’ crisis and the allegations surrounding ‘Randy Andy’, the King’s younger brother, these latest royal injuries could prove fatal. In fact, Charles’ own biographer has suggested that Harry’s book could be the beginning of the end for the monarchy.
Harry’s accusations make any reconciliation between himself and the rest of the Royal Family almost impossible. This public feud, therefore, will not be disappearing any time soon, but will continue to chip away at the authority of the monarchy – a key pillar of the British establishment.
King Charles had hoped that 2023 would be a tranquil year, to mark his coronation. But optimism for a new era of Carolean stability has barely lasted as long as Liz Truss’ brief tenure as prime minister.
The new monarch wanted to put his family’s problems behind him; to turn a new page; to begin his reign with a clean slate. But this was always bound to be wishful thinking.
Instead, the King – as with the rest of the British establishment – will be thrown from one crisis to the next; stranded in an ever-deepening hole, from which they will struggle to extricate themselves.
The second Elizabethan age began at a time of economic growth and prosperity, at the start of the postwar boom. This sustained the monarchy for a long period, even as Britain lost its colonies and industries, and the Empire transformed itself into the Commonwealth.
All of this has now come to an end. The stability of the past is long gone, giving way to a period of storm and stress.
There is no way back for the Windsors. From now on, every year will be an ‘annus horribilis’ for the Royals – this reactionary relic.
All of this is causing alarm amongst the ruling class. For them, the monarchy serves as a reserve weapon, to be used in periods of crisis in order to defend their system.
But this weapon is becoming increasingly blunted and rusted by the torrent of sleaze and scandal that streams out of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Far from being a source of strength for the ruling class, another weapon in their arsenal, the crisis-ridden monarchy has become an almighty burden; a festering wound that will not heal.
On the other hand, the working class in Britain is reawakening and rediscovering its own weapons: those of strikes and struggle, as a tsunami of industrial action sweeps across the country.
These weapons should not be solely deployed against the bosses, but used to drive out the Tories; sweep away all the feudal rubbish that remains in Britain; and topple the whole rotten system.
That is why we say: Abolish the monarchy! Down with capitalism! Fight for a socialist republic!