Once we had anarchy in the UK. Now all we have is monarchy in the UK on the Gaurdian for some reason
The Queen's diamond jubilee points up just how divided socially the country still is
People often yearn back to more innocent times, but more and more, as I get older, I find myself hankering after more jaded days. Surveying the simpering smorgasbord of crooning cretins queuing up to play the Queen's diamond jubilee concert in June, I long for the relative scepticism and sophistication of the mop-top Beatles.
It was back in 1963, at the start of their ascent, performing at the Royal Variety Performance attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, when John Lennon said: "For our last number I'd like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewellery." Yes, it was mild enough, but it did draw attention to the fact that, historically, the posh were only ever day-trippers in the world of popular culture. And, like the rich bitches who went to Harlem in ermine and pearls to get high on the sound of "le jazz hot" played by impoverished junkies, the monarchy was only really relevant to the purveyors of youth music as figures of fun. John Lennon would go on to boast about how the Fab Four had smoked dope in the bogs at Buck Pal and later even returned his MBE.
These are desperate dog days indeed when this otherwise arch-hypocrite – asking us to imagine no possessions while apparently keeping a separate apartment in the Dakota building just to keep his and the missus's vast collection of furs at the "correct" temperature – seems like a beacon of integrity.
"You're still f*****g peasants so far as I can see" – that was another good bit from Lennon's "Working Class Hero". And never are the peasants more revolting than when tugging their forelocks – with such enthusiasm you'd think they were teenage foreskins – to their self-appointed betters. June's sumptuous show of all-singing, all-dancing syncopated sycophancy is just another step in the re-peasanting of this country when it comes to the monarchy – the fall of Great Britain and the rise of the United Kingdom. It is the soundtrack to the reversal of social mobility – and the new dark ages of social unrest that such a failure to launch inevitably heralds.
Being a monarchist has never been more mindlessly popular in my lifetime as it is now. When I was growing up in the 1970s, we had Willie Hamilton, MP for Fife, a man repeatedly and solely elected by his constituency to insult the Windsors, it seemed; Princess Margaret was "a floozy", Prince Charles "a twerp" and even the normally blameless Queen was branded "a clockwork doll". There are no such hardline and rude republican public figures these days; even an allegedhomme sérieux such as Andrew Marr acts like a knicker-wetting teenybopper who has just glimpsed One Direction – as Jonathan Dimbleby did before him – at the drop of a royal biography.
Characters such as Vivienne Westwood take a break from designing boxes for £90 Fortnum and Mason Easter eggs to drool over this profoundly mediocre family with the same brainless fervour with which they once espoused anarchy. And every time I witness such self-abasement, it makes me feel once more that patriotism and monarchism are actually the opposite of each other – or at best a duplicitous marriage of convenience, such as the one the heir apparent inflicted on his innocent first wife, rather than the love match they pertain to be. Monarchists frequently declare that without the royal family, Britain would be "nothing". What a woeful lack of love for one's country such statements express.
Being a monarchist, and fawning over those "above" you, you must naturally despise those "below" or on the same socioeconomic level as yourself, because that is how hierarchy worship works. It's also about despising yourself, for how could anyone with any self-respect look up to someone who holds their position purely by an accident of birth?
Being a monarchist – saying that one small group is born more worthy of respect than another – is just as warped and strange as being a racist. Yet no musician would dream of playing a benefit concert for the BNP. When we look at the social composition of the music charts these days, though, it's hardly a surprise that rebellion is off the set list.
Fewer than one in 10 British children attends fee-paying schools, yet more than 60% of chart acts have been privately educated, according to Word magazine, compared with 1% 20 years ago. Similarly, other jobs that previously provided bright, working-class kids with escape routes – from modelling to journalism – have been colonised by the middle and upper classes and by the spawn of those who already hold sway in those professions. The spectacle of some smug, mediocre columnista who would definitely not have their job if their mummy or daddy hadn't been in the newspaper racket advising working-class kids to study hard at school, get a "proper" job and not place their faith in TV talent shows is one of the more repulsive minor crimes of our time.
The hereditary principle being on the apparent rise in every area of life, it makes total – if depressing – sense that the biggest inherited scam of all is going from strength to strength. For quite some time now, the new, self-made rich have been our favourite hate-figures, while the old rich have slipped completely under the hate radar. At a time when disillusion with elected politicians is at its highest ever level, according to a recent YouGov survey, melting into the oceanic embrace of the monarchy seems an enticing prospect to a certain sort of halfwit.
In a classic case of turkeys voting for Christmas – or at least the Queen's speech – some politicians agree. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, said last month that Prince Harry was worth "a thousand politicians" after he ran a mile for Sports Relief and played beach volleyball in Brazil in the course of promoting the Great Britain campaign for trade and tourism.
Maybe this is the way things are going to be, now the New World Order and the rise of the Bric nations leave us in the margins of time and tide, treading water in the shallow end of global power. Those nations that got rid of their monarchs, then brought them back, always looked a bit mad, a bit crazy and sad, but that's what we've done, in a way. When the pop stars queue up to kiss the ring of the monarch in June, they will be burying a phenomenon – the youth music explosion of the 1950s – which briefly ushered in a brave new world of social mobility and disappearing deference. Once the Sex Pistols sang that there was no future in England's dreaming – but increasingly our Ruritanian dream seems to be all we believe in. Albeit a Ruritania with riots in the streets.