13 May 2011

for richer, for richer...

This might seem a bit irrelevant now, I wrote it ages ago, but never mind...

I resent the need to tick a ‘Mr’ box when filling in a form, I resent even more that women are bullied into ticking a box that denotes not only their gender identity but also indicates whether or not they are shackled in marriage. I resent that anyone should feel obligated to a title that only relates to them as an individual because society dictates that we should be shoehorned into vague and meaningless subcategories. The only titles that have my approval are those that are earned; Doctor, Professor, at a push Reverend (but don’t get me started on that...). That said it is probably unsurprising that the royal family is an institution I don’t hold in very high regard.

If a Tory government-induced class war and a sea of mass employment hasn’t done it, then April’s royal wedding certainly reminded us that we are living in the 1980s all over again, but this time we don’t have The Smiths to document our melancholy, and extreme make up and skinny jeans are so common place now that it is difficult for our rebellion to be a visual one.

With bland upper-class heteronormativity rammed down our parched throats, I can’t help but beg the question: were we really expected to care about this? I am stunned that even well rounded and forward thinking people seemed to be over-awed with blind jingoistic hyperbole over the importance of the wedding that stretched far beyond the desire for an extra day off work. I would happily have attended work that day and seen the royals flock out in market-stall civvies and concede that they are a superfluous institution that has no place in our beautiful, diverse and progressive country in 2011.

Some would argue that the royal family is an imperative part of our tourist trade, this I don’t doubt, but no one visits London to actually physically see the queen. If the royals all spontaneously evaporated the history would still remain. What’s more, Buckingham Palace could be opened as a public heritage site, which would become a tourist attraction of world wide importance. The queen could perhaps work in the gift shop, so that she could contribute more effectively to the country as a tax payer. As it stands, we perch on eager tip-toes in vain attempts to peer through a far distant and well-guarded window because a cocked flag informs us that an elderly woman who we’re told is of importance and worthy of our affections and attention is in residence.

The very same dangerous right-wing red-tops that, when taking a break from blaming immigrants, gays and New Labour for AIDs, climate change and cancer, berate our benefit system and those who abuse it, seem rendered gooey-eyed and overcome with syrupy sentimentality for the royals, a family that, essentially, do not work and are living off the state.

Their various charitable commitments are purely obligation, partly because they have little else to do with their time but also because they have to justify their existences somehow. Diana broke this mould by investing her heart as well as her face and time to worthy causes, including controversially challenging the taboos surrounding AIDs.

No one should be applauded or celebrated just because of who they are. You will not have seen me lining the roads waving my St. George’s flag like a raving nationalist, more likely was I at home screaming into a pillow at this bizarre royal fever that seems to be contagious. As it happens, I cranked Kate Bush up full volume and had a large scale spring clean of the flat and garden, I didn’t leave the house, I didn’t switch on the TV and I didn’t read a newspaper, I successfully avoided it.

As someone who works in Higher Education, fearing for the implications of the Tory cuts and barbaric fee increases whilst struggling to make ends meet, and as a proud member of the LGBTQ society for whom equal marriage rights with our heterosexual brothers and sisters are denied, was I genuinely supposed to feel enthused about this wedding? Am I expected as a British citizen to feel that a man born into gross and unearned privilege and a woman (who has patronisingly been referred to as ‘common’, which in this case simply means ‘not yet royalty’) tying the knot to induct her into an archaic, patriarchal and irrelevant institution at lavish and unjustified expense is cause for me to celebrate?

I will take a lot of convincing.

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