Monday, 11 April 2011

Throne up

The artist and designer Lydia Leith has come up with a very handy invention for the upcoming royal wedding on 29 April: a sick bag. The issue is not whether Prince William is a “nice guy” (as opposed to his idiotic younger brother with his predilection for historical fancy dress) but whether a hereditary head-of-state is defensible in the twenty-first century. The problem for Britain is that an obsession with royalty, and celebrity culture more generally, infantilizes public life and reinforces divisions in society. Lacking a modern constitution renders us subjects rather than citizens so that real political change becomes subsumed in an obfuscatory swamp of tradition. The failure of the last “progressive government” with its huge parliamentary majority to complete its reform of the House of Lords is a case in point. The recent revelations of vast tax avoidance by the rich with their multifarious offshore holdings at a time of tightening fiscal austerity exposes the chimera of a unified national culture willing to clutch ice creams and flags in the spring sunshine.

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