England Without the Monarchy:

What Would It Be?
Paul V. Hartman

Portugal. That is what England would be without the monarchy.

One of the frequently heard statements among all the insipid silliness surrounding the Princess Di reportage is something to the effect that "this will finish off the monarchy." In other words, it wasn't Diana that was the foolish one - she was "as one" with "the people" - it was that callous, arrogant Charles and the whole prim and proper family that was responsible for her tragic life.

Well, we covered that in the Princess Diana essay. The question now before the bar is: how will England fare if its people really go ahead, as the egalitarians would love them to do, and abolish the monarchy?

The plain fact is that the monarchy IS England; that, and the History of the monarchy, and the trappings - oh the trappings! - of that history: castles, jewels, portraits, armor and weaponry, burial vaults, and etcetera. Absent these things, why would anyone visit that tiny island, cold and damp, or eat the food there with French cuisine only a tunnel ride away? Or drink warm beer?

I know not what price the British people pay for the royal family, except that I am confident that whatever that figure, it is more than covered by the tourist trade from America and the rest of the world which comes in hope of a glimse of one of them, or to be immersed in the pomp and ceremony. The royal family constitutes a permanent theater group, a set cast on a set stage, reliably "present" even if unvisualized. The whole business is a Disney World, reliably familiar, seemingly eternal, unique, and unreliant on special effects, but with the additional feature that, long before Disney World was, this was. Long before Hollywood discovered King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Guineverre, Camelot, Merlin, Launcelot, the Virgin Queen, King Harry, Richard the Third, Cromwell, Sir Thomas Moore, Richard the Lion Hearted, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham - they were here in England; climb the curving stone steps of the Tower of London and you will hear them whisper to you.

England without the monarchy? A sentence of doom. We would sooner visit Lebanon.