Queen of everything

Never mind the European debt crisis, or Syrians being shot in the street by their own government, the big news this week is a constitutional change in this country. What has been called “the biggest shakeup in the rules of royal succession in centuries”, ratified by the leaders of the 16 Commonwealth nations where the Queen serves as head of state, means that an elder daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would become Queen if they give birth to, as David Cameron put it, “a little girl”, whereas before, any masculine children born after this “little girl” would have leapfrogged their big sister to the throne, due to institutionalised sexism built in for 400 years. To which the natural response must surely be: WHO GIVES A MONKEY’S? I mean, we’re all feminists, right, but this is equality within a sphere of much more serious inequality.

Pardon my vulgar republicanism, but every time this story ran on TV or radio yesterday, I was engulfed by a wave of NOT GIVING A MONKEY’s. So, bad luck if you’re a “little boy” born to Wills and Kate if they have a “little girl” first; for the last 400 years you’d still have become King, but now you won’t. These sweeping constitutional changes also lift the ban on anyone in the line of succession marrying a Catholic. This is also big news, as Catholics have been well unpopular in the Royal Family for the last 400 years. We don’t burn them any more, but we might as well, eh? Again … WHO GIVES A MONKEY’S?

It might be girl and not a boy who becomes the ruler of the waves, but it will still be … someone who is by accident of birth related to the Queen. Who cares if it’s a man who would be king, or a woman who would be queen? It’s still going to be a Royal! It’s not a fair contest. And as well as “rule” us, he or she is also going to “rule” Australia, even though Australia is, well, another country, and one that’s quite a long way away. (They voted in 1999 to keep her; we’ve never been given that luxury.) The Queen, we are told – a woman lucky enough to become Queen because she didn’t have any brothers but was related to the King – signalled “her approval” of the changes by allowing her private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, to attend the meeting of the leaders of “her realms” in Australia. What language are we talking here? Realms? Succession? And is wealth really common in the Commonwealth? Or does most of it belong to a tiny fraction of people, as it does everywhere else. Common wealth: hmmm, sounds a bit like socialism to me.

If this isn’t the dictionary definition of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, I will be very disappointed. This country is going to the dogs; its welfare state is being systematically dismantled; we are now into three generations of jobless in some cases; the financial institutions that led us into this recession – or these recessions, if there really is a double-dip – continue to trade as if nothing has happened while ordinary people are laid off left, right and centre; meanwhile, we are ruled over (and the Queen, by the way, a sort of souvenir doll for tourists, does not “rule” and if she is not the dictionary definition of power without responsibility, I’ll be very disappointed) by a coterie of moneyed politicans so out-of-touch they make the Thatcher government look well hip and street-smart, not to mention timorous – after all, Thatcher only dismantled industry, transport, education and utilities, even she didn’t dare privatise the NHS. But hey, the Royal Family have had a bit of a think about the unfairness of the system by which they always get in, without election, and live off our money while they glad-hand around the world and expect us to have street parties when they get married. Let me just think … do I give a monkey’s? NO, I DON’T.

The immediate impact of this “royal shake-up” (I can think of a much better royal shake-up, by the way), will place the Princess Royal, the Queen’s daughter, fourth in the line of succession behind the Prince of Wales and his two sons. At the moment the princess is 10th. The Duke of York, who is fourth, will drop to seventh. Hang on … I DON’T GIVE A MONKEY’S!

The change will not affect the position of the monarch as the supreme governor of the Church of England, because Catholics will still be barred from the throne. The Church of England will remain as the established church. WHO CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARES? Legislation will amend laws including the Bill of Rights 1688, the Act of Settlement 1700, the Act of Union with Scotland 1706 and the Coronation Oaths Act 1688, Princess Sophia’s Precedence Act 1711, the Royal Marriages Act 1772, the Union with Ireland Act 1800, the Accession Declaration Act 1910 and the Regency Act 1937. Good. Can we instead just set fire to all these ancient acts – or photocopies of them, if they’re valuable – and help keep the old people warm during the predicted Arctic winter now that they’ve had their heating allowances cut because keeping old people warm: that’s a bit of a fancy luxury, isn’t it?

David Cameron paid tribute to the “60 years of extraordinary public service” by the Queen who opened the Commonwealth summit in Perth on Friday. He announced the creation of a Diamond Jubilee Trust, to be chaired by Sir John Major, to help people in need across the Commonwealth. I can think of a much better way of raising money for that cause, by the way.