The Rhetoric of Republicanism Reveals it to be a Lost Cause
By Matthew Groves: BMS Blogger-in-Residence
Pity the British republican! Everything is against him: the public love their Royal Family more than ever, thanks to a recent series of family occasions and the Monarchy itself is exhibiting a new vibrancy through the marriage of a Prince of the Blood and heir to the Throne to Catherine who is now ennobled as the Duchess of Cambridge. Meanwhile, to the frustration of the political and media class the immediate heir, Prince Charles continues to express the concerns of the nation on a range of issues, while elected politicians remain tone deaf to their voters.
Mind you, perhaps part of the point about being republican is to be “against the system”, so that they derive some perverse pleasure from their animosity to our oldest and most unifying institution? Either way, republicanism feels like something of a lost cause in twenty-first century Britain. Even the unpleasant and nasty creed of Scottish Nationalism daren’t propose a breach with Scotland’s and England’s shared Royal Family. For that reason one is tempted to refer Republicans to Saint Jude, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes. However, Saint Jude’s teachings hardly chime with the spirit of Republicanism, for in the New Testament Saint Jude criticises those who “speak evil of dignitaries”, and yet speaking evil of dignitaries and undermining dignity in public discourse seems to be the overwhelming tone of Republican utterances.
One prime example of the disrespectful and downright rude tone of Republican comment is a recent article in the Daily Mirror by one Ms Carole Malone. The piece was entitled “William and Kate aren’t humble – they’re just a pair of spoiled kids wasting your money”. The tone and attitude of the article is disrespectful, sarcastic and rude. It attempts to win its case by feeding the worst sort of emotions – resentment, envy and laughing to scorn. And this paints for us a picture of the sort of world republicans inhabit and why they so dislike the concept of a Royal Family. Contrast this tone with the atmosphere and tone a Royal Family brings to the nation’s life – it fosters good manners, etiquette, respect and dignity. An interaction with a member of the Royal Family not only brings joy (why do the republicans so resent this?) but dignifies both people.
This is not because the person meeting a Royal is idolising the person, but because of all that Royalty represents culturally – history, tradition, respect and etiquette. It would simply be unthinkable that Prince William would ever utter public comments as rude about Daily Mirror journalists as those journalists write about His Royal Highness. Royalty edifies the tone of public debate; some parts of the tabloid press drag it into the gutter. Speaking evil of dignitaries actually speaks volumes about the people themselves. I would rather live in a world where the heart of the nation is the fount of manners, etiquette and tradition, in sharp contrast to what is often a celebration of ugliness and a pride in disrespect that we so often find today. For as long as republicans attempt to appeal to our baser emotions, rather than make the case for destroying an ancient and much loved institution, the question is left begging as to whether they have anything constructive to say.
This though is perhaps the heart of the matter: no national system of government can survive without an appeal to the emotions. One cannot sit down and draw up a rationalist constitution for a country and expect it to work unless it also appeals to the heart. This is a very worrying fact for Republicans, because they realise no one will feel love for a system devoid of history and organic growth. Therefore they realise they too must appeal to our emotions. Unlike the Royalists though, they cannot appeal to those better emotions of patriotism, loyalty and veneration of tradition. This is why they continually appeal to our negative emotions of resentment and envy. These appeals to our negative feelings show themselves through sarcasm, disrespect and mockery. So the British Monarchist Society lays down a challenge to Republicans – stop relying on rudeness and sneering to win your arguments and appeal to our better emotions to make your case. Prove to us that we should do away with an institution that brings joy and maintains tradition by real argument rather than simply by speaking evil of dignitaries.