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Charles Bannerman: 'Council shouldn’t let coronation cost kids even more education'

By Charles Bannerman

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King Charles III. Picture: Mark Tantrum/Wikimedia Commons
King Charles III. Picture: Mark Tantrum/Wikimedia Commons

As coronation frenzy rises I expect a further rash of bizarre images like the one I spotted of a middle-aged woman curtseying deeply to a little boy called George.

Meanwhile, calling someone “Your Royal Highness” just edges “Your Majesty” as an absurd and obsequious acknowledgement of all-embracing superiority, given what this nonsense actually means.

Deferring thus to fellow humans would be ridiculous even if they were clearly of some exceptional merit, but royalty receive antiquated deference, status and much national wealth not on merit but through a contrived set of rules and random accidents of history. The notion of innate superiority is hence a complete myth.

They are imposed upon us simply because they and their often dubious ancestors were in the right place at the right time, so might otherwise have occupied rather more menial stations in life. The presumption that they are some cut above is therefore a completely baseless illusion.

Related: Charles Bannerman: 'Affairs of nations are far too precious to entrust to politics and politicians'

Until daughters gained parity a decade ago, the rules said that these titles were inherited by sons in order of birth.

Oh… and the British throne is barred to Catholics. The excuse is that the monarch is also head of the Church of England, an absurdity originating from Henry VIII divorcing Catherine of Aragon in the 1530s, so they must be a Protestant.

This was outright interference in government by religion but was legalised by the English Parliament’s Act of Settlement of 1701 and applied to Scotland too.

This legislation was invented when it became clear that Queen Anne wasn’t going to produce surviving progeny, so to ensure a Protestant succession they cooked the books by inventing this. But to find a Protestant successor, they had to go via James I’s daughter’s 12th child whose son George I and his predominantly German descendants have had the gig ever since.

Charles Bannerman.
Charles Bannerman.

In so doing, they sidelined 50-odd Catholics with stronger claims. Hence, but for the Act of Settlement, some currently anonymous car park attendant in Frankfurt might instead have been enjoying sycophancy, wealth and titles unbounded, while the current incumbents stocked supermarket shelves.

The British monarchy is a complete lottery.

For instance if women’s equal succession rights had dated not from the 2010s but the 1800s, Wilhelm II of Germany, better known as World War I bogeyman Kaiser Bill would, succeeding his mother, have become “British” monarch in 1901.

And if George V’s elder brother hadn’t died, the last five incumbents and their families would never have sniffed it. Neither would George VI, Elizabeth II or Charles III and progeny had Edward VIII not decided in 1936 that he couldn’t be bothered and married Mrs Simpson instead.

Stuff like this is legion, so royal succession clearly isn’t the right of an established elite at all, but the product of some dynastic roulette wheel where perfectly ordinary people get lucky breaks.

And since the Divine Right of Kings is long rendered fiction, they can’t claim it’s God’s will, because it’s simply pot luck – a blunt reality that completely undermines the mystique, the logic and the very concept of monarchy and royalty.

So where does that leave the bling-laden comic opera which is this coronation, featuring two ordinary people having the GDP of a small country parked on their heads?

Highland Council really should follow Shetland’s example and decline a public holiday so this pantomime doesn’t cost the kids even more education.

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