Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A Sponge And A Rusty Spanner...

I sometimes wonder what it must be like to be Prince Philip. I mean – how would you feel knowing that a couple of million people lick the back of your wife’s head on a daily basis? I’d certainly feel a bit self-conscious in public for a start.

OK – with self-adhesive stamps slowly replacing the old calorific versions this is less of a problem – but you still have to wonder what goes through his head when he gets his renewal documents through the post from Horse & Hound Magazine and there’s a picture of his wife right there on the envelope.

There are those in the UK who say that the time of the Royal Family is over and done with – that they cost too much too maintain (as if they’re an old car that we know we should trade in for a new, more sporty model) and we should just get rid of them and have a duly elected representative. Because clearly having a President to vote for and maintain would be far less expensive… (hmmm…)

And OK, most of them aren’t actually British anyway. I mean sure, Elizabeth can trace her ancestry back to the time of Henry VIII, but her family is mostly German (quietly dropping the surname Saxe-Coburg during the War for the more politically correct Windsor) and all her children are half-Greek – so many would argue that they have little right to be there in the first place.

At least in the USA when they vote for a President they have to be (as Springsteen would say) Born In The USA (we should be eternally grateful for this rule, thus stopping the prospect of Governator Schwarzenegger ever getting control of The Button and turning the Oval office into a pancake)

I have to say that whilst I quite like the royal family in an abstract way I do feel that maybe we could root out a few of the more useless ones and save ourselves some tax expenditure. I mean sure: we need the Queen and Philip to wave at the masses from their pearly carriages, but Zara Phillips has a successful career as a dressage rider so surely she can earn her own keep now?

But various things do concern me about their Royalness – like are their waving hands insured against Repetitive Stress Injury and if so for how much? Do they have removable legs so that they can all fit into those carriages? Has she ever been tempted to chop off someone’s ear when knighting them? Does the Queen secretly skateboard around Buckingham Palace, listen to Hip Hop and wear VW signs around her neck when she’s off duty (you’ve got to admit – if you lived in a house with that many steps and banisters you’d be looking to pull the odd vertical lift or so) - and has she ever sat down at a four-course meal and just announced “Actually, one is only in the mood for Spam and Baked Beans today”?

Most important of these worries is the Royal Seal of Approval. On certain products in the UK you will find the Royal seal. IE Cornflakes – next time you are in England ask for a box of cornflakes and look on the side – there it is: the royal seal.

The thing that worries me about this is exactly what does a company need to do to get the seal and how does the Queen go about checking that said product is still up to scratch? Is there, perhaps, a monthly task where she goes to a special Cornflake Testing Room, sits quietly at a table with nothing more than a bowl, spoon and a fair portion of Kellogg’s finest before scoring them out of ten? Does she ever send any of the lesser royals to do this for her? If so does this explain the relevantly low public profile of Princes Andrew and Edward in recent years – are they locked in a cellar under Balmoral forever quality testing Assorted Wheatie-Flakes?

Sadly the rather dull answer to this question is that there are no corridors full of footmen and conveyor belts brimmed with products for the lesser royals to wear, eat, make or wipe their backsides with (if there is a man/woman who is paid to do this for them then I do NOT want to know) and award marks – anything that is used by anyone in the royal household (yep, even the bloke who lets in the milkman) automatically gets the seal.

Sometimes this world just doesn’t live up to expectations!


The Clandestine Samurai said...

Or, perhaps they pay the Queen for the Seal of Approval? Even if she does check the product and affirm her liking, I can't really see her caring to continually check if the product is up to par. If people don't like something her name is on, I don't think it'll hurt her rep by much.

And I, on the other hand, would like to know if someone is being paid to wipe her behind. If they still have their dignity, they'd get the seal of approval from me.

And yeah, they rule the country and aren't even British? Get them out. That's just ridiculous. I think I spoke on this in one of my posts, but by this definition, none of the American Presidents had any business being American Presidents.

As a matter of fact......the people who started Parliament here were British, weren't they?

pohanginapete said...

Years ago (the '70s sometime, I think), the queen visited New Zealand and one of the university students' unions presented her with a mechanical hand which allowed her to wave almost effortlessly from the inside of her car as she was whisked past the proletariat lining the footpaths. Actually, the union reps could only present it to an aide, but who knows? Perhaps she uses it still? Perhaps she's given it the Royal Seal.

Honour said...

freaky. i just watched a documentary last week on the royal family and was wondering what you would think about it, being one of their "loyal subjects" and all.

the documentary was part of a series, i think. it was focusing on the queen's visit to the USA for some kind of centennial celebration ... and how the last time she had visited "officially" it was like 25 (or was it 50?) years ago. Then, they talked about how much we (north americans) love the royalty because we don't have them, and how it reminds us of the days gone by ...

i found it quite fascinating, really. you know, how the hotel in Virginia bought new towels and washed them five times over before they went into Queen E's room and all.

she has a weekly visit with Tony blair doesn't she? does she really have political influence, you think?

Gattina said...

Lol about your post ! We have the same "problem" in Belgium with our royal family (they also all have German ancestors and therefore cousins to the queen !) Philip btw wasn't that much greek, he also was more german, his name was Battenberg which had been translated into Mountbatten. Anyway I prefer a royal family by far (not always ALL the children) then a president ! look what he have for presidents on our globe ! One worse than the other ! and they cost probably much more !
Vive le roi (or "la reine") !

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

samuria - people working in care homes do far worse for a living, but the difference is that the people there generally can't do it for themselves...but how would you make it sound positive on your resume? Excrement Attendant to the Queen's Privvy?

pohanginapete - i love the idea she uses a mechanical hand. It fits in with my theory that the Queen Mother was replaced by a robot in the 1970s (hence we never heard her speak in public for 20 years)

Honour - i believe the Queen has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister, but not Tony Blair anymore, as Gordon Brown is in charge now. Theoretically she has the right to come up and knock on your door and demand entry (in the UK), so it's always a good idea to have a serviete handy just in case.

Gattina - hi there and thanks for commenting. Despite this post i do quite like the major royals in an abstract way and I think we would miss them if we got rid of them though...

Thanks for the background on Prince Philip. Strange as it may sound i wasn't really aware of this...and yes, when you consider we could have someone like George W Bush i guess we should count ourselves lucky

Michael said...

Cecil Beaton took some great photos of old Betty when she was younger. Very elegant and surreal in there class separation from the ordinary world. A living character from an ancient novel.

I think the Queen is alright. I wonder what she's like? Really like? Does she ever have an ironic thought I wonder? Or is she thoroughly trained by her role.

She's all over our Canadian money, so we're probably forking over a bit for her upkeep.

And who do we have to replace her? No one. At least the Americans have Arnold.


Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Michael - yeah Queen Elizabeth seems ok. Unlike Prince Philip, who is famous for his gaffes, we don't really know much about what she really thinks - even her Christmas speeches are written by someone else.

Actually it must be one of the hardest jobs in the world, because you are never, ever off duty and you can never retire.

Still - she got to have her portrait painted by Rolf Harris, so it can't all be bad :)

Lydia said...

I was thinking about the tainted milk scandal in China as I read your post. Even at the end where you burst the bubble as to how something warrants a Royal Seal...if that were the case in China perhaps they'd have taken the health of their babes more seriously. But maybe those old farts in control surround themselves with other old farts and there aren't any babies in the inner circle to have been concerned about harming.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

lydia - interesting point. If those in control were actually affected more by their decisions maybe they'd think a bit more carefully...

There is an argument that politicians shouldn't receive pay and should have to live in council housing - how can they represent the public when they live in nice comfy buildings and constantly award themselves above inflation pay-rises?

Captain Steve said...

I've always liked the idea of a royal family, but what do they do, really? It's kind of nice to have a president that's really just your own damn fault for being in power. I think the whole thing is very interesting.

Jenny Bah said...

A very amusing entry :)
It's the same with the royal family here. It's a mix of different nationalities, for example German.

Monarchy has its charm though. If we didn't have the royal family here, who would the Swedish gossip-magazines then write about? xD