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UK: The Monarchy, the State and the BBC

UK. The wall to wall coverage of the death of Prince Philip highlighted the role that the royal family plays in the maintenance of the system.

Originally published by Anarchist Communist Group.

Over 110,000 people lodged protests with the BBC over its grovelling coverage, before its Director General Tim Davie, a supporter of the Conservative Party, ordered the complaint form to be taken down, to avoid further embarrassment as the figures rose.

Boris Johnson underlined the key role that the monarchy plays in maintaining the status quo and as an adhesive in preserving the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, praising Philip in suitably sycophantic style: “Like the expert carriage driver that he was, he helped to steer the royal family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.” This view was echoed by the leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn. Starmer was to say “The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in Prince Philip”. Meanwhile the Trades Union Congress (TUC) tweeted “The UK’s trade union movement sends our condolences to the queen and the royal family on the death of the duke of Edinburgh.” Some “left” Labour MPs, who have made a show of their republicanism in the past, were also eager to grovel, as were the leaders of the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. Both Sian Berry, present leader of the Green Party, and Caroline Lucas, its former leader praised Philip, a notorious killer of creatures, both big game like tigers and smaller creatures like grouse and pheasants, over his concern for the environment and the World Wildlife Fund.

Philip’s well-publicised racism and sexism were portrayed by the media as lovable quirks, the Sunday Times stating: “Prince Philip was the longest-serving royal consort in British history – an often crotchety figure, offending people with gaffes about slitty eyes, even if secretly we rather enjoyed them.” This referred to comments he had made about British students studying Mandarin in China.

The “We” used by the Sunday Times illustrates the peddling of the One Nation idea as a uniform, confirming mass. Responding to this legitimisation of racism, a group of east Asian journalists responded in a statement signed by 17,000 that “Portraying the nation as a collective ‘we’ that ‘secretly’ enjoys racist and derogatory slurs at the expense of ethnic groups is insensitive at best, and encouraging racist violence at worst”.

The over the top coverage of Philip’s death marks a cranking up of an ideological war against any sign of rebellion or dissent. Witness the horror of the establishment at the toppling of statues in last summer’s Black Lives Matters protests. It responds with attempts to control the school curriculum even tighter, by praising the “benefits” of the British Empire.

Against this culture war the so called “left” has been spectacularly spineless, rolling over to have its tummy tickled if it keeps quiet about the monarchy, about the racist heritage of Britain and about police brutality.

Philip comes from a family which ruled Greece. The Greek population decided they did not want a monarchy anymore. His sisters all married top German Nazis and Philip’s own contempt for the masses was sometimes revealed as witness his remarks when he visited the dictator of Paraguay, where he said that it was a pleasure to visit a country not ruled by its people.

Philip’s funeral attracted 13 million viewers. The future death of Elisabeth will be used to drum up another frenzy of brown nosing. Calls for the abolition of the monarchy and a consistent campaign to expose it as an essential tool used by the ruling class in this country to preserve the status quo are imperative. Despite the “We” used by the establishment, it can be seen that there are considerable numbers opposed to the monarchy, as witness the 110,000 complaints to the BBC and the crash in viewing figures for ITV of 60% with significant falls in viewing of other channels during the carpet coverage.

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