Since Brexit, the UK has become one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. Energy prices are soaring, national inflation is in double digits, wages, and living standards have dropped to among the lowest in Europe. So why do they need a king?
You can't have escaped the news that yet another English royal was fitted for a jewel-encrusted magic hat recently.
Prince - now King - Charles had to wait 74 years for the appointment, so perhaps the novelty wasn't quite what it could have been for him.
“No other country in the world can do this,” said one British commentator on CNN, referring with pride to all the pantomime dress-up and golden coaches and weird traditions filling the screen to mark the coronation of Charles Windsor.
But does any other country in the world still want to do it? You can't get a doctor's appointment in the UK one year out from the date of requesting one. It has, since Brexit, become one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. Energy prices are soaring there, national inflation is in the double digits; wages and living standards have dropped to among the lowest in Europe.
The royal family is bankrolled by an annual taxpayer-funded payment known as the Sovereign Grant, which in the 2021-2022 financial year weighed in (in American money) at $108 million dollars or roughly $1.61 for every person in the UK. That's a tidy annual sum for a country facing a financial crisis.
What was striking to outside observers was all the ostentatious wealth in a time of need. The golden coach pulled by fancy Canadian horses, the over-the-top robes and gowns, the diamonds stolen from once-subject nations, the palaces that were funded by the international bank robbery that was British colonialism.
You might think, given how long he had to wait to get his hands on the crown, that Charles Windsor might have been in a rather buoyant mood. But actually, he looked like he was waiting in a slow-moving line at Whole Foods, just one second away from tossing his shopping basket on the ground.
Lip readers picked up his irritation in the golden carriage in front of Westminster Abbey, where he apparently was complaining of how long it was taking to move events along, grousing about the late entry of his son William and daughter-in-law Kate Middleton, and assuring his wife Camilla that the TV coverage must look boring.
King Charles carriage lip reading 🤭#KingCharles #KingCharlesCoronation #Coronation #lipreading pic.twitter.com/n2FAbZzQzj— Mrs. SpaceX ™️ (@anuibi) May 10, 2023
I wouldn't argue with his assessment. It was dull when it wasn't mystifying and the pomp and pageantry looks hopelessly outdated and even insulting pre-medieval in the modern world.
We need this, said another British commentator on CNN. Without this, we are just another nation and not a particularly prosperous or happy one. The coronation will remind us who we are and what we stand for and it'll be a shot in the arm.
Wasn't Brexit supposed to be that, though? Weren't the public promised sunlit uplands and a renewed investment in the National Health Service? Weren't they promised lucrative international deals and a roaring economy? Weren't they supposed to have their cake and eat it too?
"I remember as a child in South Wales swimming in sewage"
Conservative MP @DamianGreen says water pollution from sewage dumping has always been an issue, but it used to be perceived as more acceptable #Peston pic.twitter.com/386v3pltuJ— Peston (@itvpeston) May 17, 2023
Ask the Democratic Unionist Party how all that worked out. After years of smoke and mirrors and political kabuki dances, they have presided over the biggest self-inflicted wound of a political lifetime, where each solution made more enemies and made the problems worse.
The Murdoch press has learned no lessons from the decision by Prince Harry to cut his ties with the whole tottering edifice. The only person filmed smiling on the day (both his bother Willam and his wife Kate had a blazing argument in the car before arriving energy).
Harry was blasted for the shortness of his visit, but all of Murdoch's media Horcrux had it all wrong. The best people in life are the ones that make the effort to show up for your red letter days, which in this case included both the coronation and the birthday of his son back in the United States. He made it to both on time. That's a good man.
What the cameras actually revealed, often despite themselves, is an unhappy family who hold mixed feelings at best about their goldfish-like existence, where there is no privacy, no refuge from intrusive press cameras, and no real purpose to their lives other than to be figureheads for a lost empire.
Fighting over the best seats on the deck of the Titanic is funny at first and tragic at last. The royals, like Brexit, are just a flashy distraction for a nation that still doesn't have the stomach to look at itself, its lamentable history or its current reality.