Rejoice! Let the bunting fly, for Betty Windsor is to address us. Well that solves all our problems, said no one ever. The BBC and assorted other crawlers, sychophants, and brown nosers insist on telling us how unusual it is for Mrs Mountbatten to address the plebs when it’s not Christmas, as though this should somehow make us think that we’re in for a treat as we watch an elderly and extremely privileged and wealthy woman mouth some platitudes in a plummy accent.
It would be nice if she apologised for the behaviour of her son, who buggered off to rural Aberdeenshire after the Scottish government had expressly said that people shouldn’t travel to their holiday homes in rural areas of Scotland. In doing so he spread the virus locally, and in his entitlement deprived the local population of the services of a much needed acute respitory infection team who had to travel deep into the countryside from their usual place of work to test him and his retinue – a test which is still denied to most NHS workers and the public. In the process they were not available for patients who could well have been considerably more ill than Charles was. But don’t go holding your breath for any acknowledgement from his mother that a family whose entire purpose is to sit on a throne of entitlement should apologise for the harm they cause to others by depriving them of resources.
Things are so bad that the NHS has had to source some much needed equipment from an online sex fetish shop. No, I am not making that up. So frankly, unless Elizabeth Windsor is going to use a significant part of that massive fortune of hers to buy some ventilators and a couple of thousand shed loads of personal protection equipment for NHS workers, she’s wasting her time – and more importantly ours. Apart from essential workers, the rest of us have some serious business to get through, like lying on the sofa in our underwear and binge watching The Tiger King on Netflix. It’s a show which is full of stupid, selfish, greedy, and self-absorbed people. So it’s very much like the Royal family, but is considerably more entertaining and with a touch more self-awareness.
Being brought up in a household by West of Scotland Catholic parents with a genetic aversion to all things monarchical, it’s my proud boast that I’ve made it into late middle age without ever once having seen Liz Windsor address the UK. It might not be much in the way of virginity, but it’s all I’ve got and I’m quite determined that it’s a cherry which will remain firmly unpopped.
We live in a time when parliaments, the courts and tribunals are suspended, when government is by decree. The police can stop you in the street to determine whether your presence in a public space is legitimate. We live in fear while the media acts as unthinking cheerleaders for the government. We’ve learned from this crisis that democracy is a fragile thing, that all the things we took for granted so recently can vanish overnight – but it’s hard to be reassured about the future of democracy when the head of state is appointed for life on the basis of who her dad was. We get Liz Windsor on our TV screens, but what we don’t get, heaven forfend, is anything that might tell the people of Scotland that they belong to a country in its own right, a country with a history, constitutional tradition, and identity of its own. A country where the role of the monarch was always tightly circumscribed by a deep rooted belief in the sovereignty of the people, not the crown.
We live in a Scotland where the 700th anniversary of the foundation document of the Scottish nation is not being celebrated by the broadcast media or that British government which is pleased to tell us that we’re a part of a glorious union. The good news is that no state led commemoration has had to be cancelled. The bad news is that that’s because there weren’t any.
Think on that for a second. It’s like the 200th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence passing unremarked in the US media. It’s like the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses of Martin Luther not being commented upon by the Lutheran Church. It’s like South Africa not marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. It’s like France forgetting the 200th anniversary of its revolution. Even the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Union in 2007 got a coin.
It’s exactly like the British state not marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta – an event which was marked with a special £2 commemorative coin, a set of commemorative stamps, specially commissioned BBC documentaries, and a series of events throughout the whole of 2015 including events in the Westminster Parliament. Yet for the equivalent for Scotland, we get nothing. Not a whisper. Tell me again how the British media and the British state do a good job of representing Scotland.
Where is Scotland’s commemorative coin and set of stamps? Where are the BBC documentaries? Where is the year long series of commemorative events at the British – or for that matter the Scottish – Parliament? You’d almost think that the establishment was afraid that Scotland might be reminded that it’s an ancient nation with its own constitutional traditions, traditions which are founded in the absolute sovereignty of the people of Scotland, not of the crown.
But this is Scotland in the UK, where Scottishness is to be reduced to tartan bows on a shortbread tin, kilts at weddings, and the condescension of English sporting commentators. Don’t dare get above yourself Scotland, at every turn, at every opportunity, you will be reminded of your own lack of importance. Stand to attention for God Save the Queen, Betty Windsor is gracing the TV screen in your locked down hovel with an address to the nation – the nation that doesn’t know Scotland’s name. We’re just an unspeaking silent extra providing a bit of background colour in the Betty Windsor Show.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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