David Bouchier: A New Royal Family

Jan 22, 2018

I sense a growing nostalgia for the idea of monarchy. It’s everywhere on our television screens with popular series like The Crown, Victoria, The Coronation, and something called Game of Thrones, which I haven’t seen but which I presume to be a documentary about monarchical politics. Journalists can’t get enough of Harry and Meghan, Kate and Andrew. The British royals are fully-fledged celebrities, at least as popular as Justin Bieber or Jennifer Lawrence, and with the added advantage of longevity. The average mega-celebrity is forgotten after a few years or a few months, while the royals hang on to the spotlight for hundreds of years. They represent stability and a kind of stubborn pride that lots of people find appealing.

The Presidential system, by contrast, is not looking too healthy on television (consider the series House of Cards, for example) or in real life. There must be a better way. 

There are forty-four monarchies still functioning in the world. Most of them are constitutional – that is the king or queen rules with the more or less willing cooperation of an elected congress or parliament. In fact most modern monarchs have far less power than our President has accumulated in the past few decades, so we’re already halfway back to the politics of the Middle Ages.

The main advantages of a proper monarchy would not be its efficiency, which would probably be no better or worse than the system we have now, but its stability, and its relative simplicity. The ludicrous and expensive charade of elections every four years would be unnecessary, and we the people would no longer suffer from the illusion that we can choose between two potential leaders we know nothing at all about. In a single stroke, we could get rid of the political party machines, the primaries, the party conferences, the debates, the ghastly advertising campaigns, the tedious and tendentious speeches, the election itself, and the legal battles afterwards. Instead, we could have a proper royal family, with all the tabloid entertainment that that implies.

But here’s the catch: how do we choose them? We wouldn’t want accidentally to appoint another George III or Caligula. King Zog of Albania, who reigned from 1928 to 1939 essentially chose himself, and crowned himself, and was a great success. But this is a risky game. Just imagine which of our great leaders might crown himself king in 2020 if he had the chance. No, that won’t do.

The younger British royals, as well as Prince Charles, are all unemployed at the moment. They speak English rather well, and might be persuaded to consider a transatlantic career. There are several claimants to the throne of France, including Prince Louis Alphonse, the Duke of Anjou, and Prince Henri d’Orleans, the Count of Paris, who might jump at the chance of reclaiming their lost colony, and improving our cuisine at the same time.

But that’s all in the realm of fantasy. Real life happens only in Hollywood, and that’s where we should look for our new royal family. Hollywood alone can manufacture the illusion of style and dignity that we need, with the right background music, and a script that makes at least some sense.

Copyright: David Bouchier