Monday 22 July 2013

On the national pre-natal obsession

I find it all a bit weird, frankly, and my co-workers have taken this to mean I'm a republican. I'm not and it isn't the reason.

The constant media coverage of Kate Windsor's labour just sort of confuses me. The BBC, having nothing substantial to report, have been marking time until they can announce the birth. They even dragged an OB-GYN in to painstakingly go through how women give birth, which is hardly novel information. They sent reporters to Kate Windsor's hometown to interview people.

It can't be that slow a news day, surely.

As for republicanism, I simply don't see the point of it because as a country we've been here before, over a century ago. During the long years when Queen Victoria was basically a recluse following her husband's death there were serious debates about whether the monarchy should be abolished.

After Queen Victoria died the monarchy had a resurgence because the government were centralising a lot of things (the postal service, railway timetables and so on) and wanted a solid sense of national identity in the country. The pageantry of the monarchy served the government's purposes. I feel confident the same thing would happen again, one government would end the monarchy and then a decade or two later another government would find itself in a position where they needed a unifying sense of Britishness again.

They might need a figurehead for a war. The ruling political party might need a symbol of traditional values or national identity. The idea of an elected head of state might just fall out of fashion after just one or two bad ones. There are any number of reasons it might happen but I doubt monarchy would stay out of fashion for long.

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