Is there a more consistently hilarious sight in Britain than the endless parade of slavering monarchists trying to convince us the Windsor family is the embodiment of virtue and hard work? Today is the 90th birthday of Philip Mountbatten. Ordinarily, I would wish him a happy day, as I would any other 90-year-old, and then let the event pass in silence – if only the monarchists were not so relentlessly using the event as yet another propaganda tool for their snobbery-soaked institution. But we can’t let yet another bout of their myth-making pass without answer.
Today, you are being encouraged to celebrate a man who merrily visited a genocidal dictator and used the occasion to sneer at British democracy. A man whose political interventions even prompted complaints from the far-right Enoch Powell. A man who, at the height of mass unemployment, mocked the unemployed, while complaining his own family of multi-millionaires was financially deprived. A man who has shot countless examples of endangered species – and then sought praise for his protection of wildlife.
But let’s start with the myth. Monarchists feel the need to claim that the Windsors are somehow more worthy than the rest of us, but this is difficult, since they consist merely of whoever randomly emerges from a royal womb, and whoever that package of DNA and unearned privilege then chooses to marry. Windsors are thrown up by chance, and must have imaginary merits thrust upon them. You can see how hard this is by reading the moist panegyric written by the conservative commentator Peter Oborne last week. He said Philip is “colossally important” because… um… Well, he said, he represents continuity. That’s true. If you gave my father a job for life from which he couldn’t be fired and a slew of golden palaces to live in, he’d represent continuity too. So would yours. So would literally anyone in Britain
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