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'Diamond jubilee: a vapid family and a mirage of nationhood. What's to celebrate?'

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Three cheers for Polly Toynbee (for once at least)

'If the very idea of monarchy diminishes us, the living reality is much more humiliating and damaging to our country'

The more outrageously glorious the performance, the more preposterous its purpose. There at the heart, in the dead centre of all this pomp and circumstance, is the great emptiness, the nothingness, the Wizard of Oz in emperor's clothes. The louder the bells, the more gaping the grand vacuity. What are we celebrating? A singularly undistinguished family's hold on the nation, a mirage of nationhood, a majestic delusion.

How close to religion it is, with all the same feudal imagery, God as Lord and sovereign, sovereign anointed by God, knelt before in a divine hierarchy of power ordained by laws too ineffable to explain. The tyranny of the monarchy lies not in its residual temporal power but in its spiritual power. It subjugates the national imagination, infantilising us with false imaginings and a bogus heritage of our island story. For as long as they rule over us, we are obedient servants, worshipping an ermine-wrapped fantasy of Englishness. (Despite the kilts, the monarchy was never really British.)

Every country needs its founding myths, its binding identity rooted in a valiant story that rarely stands up to historical scrutiny. What matters is the nature of that story, and ours is as pitiful as our embarrassingly shoddy national anthem: no US "land of the free", just "long to reign over us".

But if the very idea of monarchy diminishes us, the living reality is even more humiliating. What are we doing paying homage to the unimpressive personages invested with this awe? They are the apogee of celebrity culture, because there is nothing there but empty celebrity. Ah, say the royalists, it's their very "ordinariness" that is their mystique. But they are not ordinary like next-door neighbours, only ordinary like all the other dull and talentless plutocrats with nothing remarkable about them but their bank balance. That the very rich are mostly very dull, lacking enterprise, initiative or inspiration is small solace.

The long line of royal nonentity is the ultimate lesson in the damage that inherited money and privilege does, the reason why inheritance tax – which the monarchy doesn't pay – is a way not just to collect funds for the Treasury but to stop the stultifying social effects of inherited wealth. How well the royal family illustrate the aristocratic phenomenon where those who have had the very best education and the greatest opportunity for intellectual enrichment emerge with so little to show for it, generation after generation.

Hunting, shooting, horses, nightclubbing, none of the long royal line since time immemorial has exhibited much spark of intellectual curiosity or originality.

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Typical Polly Toynbee sociological blather and rhetoric.

WTF does that first paragraph acutally mean?

"But if the very idea of monarchy diminishes us," - who said it does? And why?

And I'd rather have the monarchy than President Thatcher or President Blair.

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What you'd rather have an old soak like Charles, or a spoiled brat like William, over someone democratically elected that you can kick out?

Monarchy obviously diminished us, because unlike France or Germany we are not Citizens but SUBJECTS who have to bend the knee to people whose only claim over us is because of who their parents were. So obvious it goes without saying.

Typical Polly Toynbee sociological blather and rhetoric.

WTF does that first paragraph acutally mean?

"But if the very idea of monarchy diminishes us," - who said it does? And why?

And I'd rather have the monarchy than President Thatcher or President Blair.

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And I'd rather have the monarchy than President Thatcher or President Blair.

Exactly - just imagine First Lady Cherie, mind you Dennis at the inauguration bottle of gin in hand would have been a hoot!!!!!

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who have to bend the knee to people whose only claim over us is because of who their parents were. So obvious it goes without saying.

No it doesn't because you don't have too go on bended knee. In fact there is far less allegiance to the State in UK than there is USA.

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Oh here we go again......... let's pick on the Queen.

Good luck to her I say, she's a damn sight more honest and less slimy than the bloody politicians.

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I would rather elect a President than have an unelected PrimeMinister with nigh on unfettered power and patronage. As for the Royal family, an anachronism designed to keep the masses happy and the establishment content. On another tack I could equally say that raising the next monarch from childhood is tantamount to abuse, howw we criticise those parents seen to be forcing their offspring down a particular path, but the Royals are forced into doing this by us....so unfair.

There would be nowt stopping Charlie boy standing for President, but I doubt he would get eleceted. Once they are gone we can then start the process of land redistribution long overdue since the Enclosures Act.

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Exactly - just imagine First Lady Cherie, mind you Dennis at the inauguration bottle of gin in hand would have been a hoot!!!!!

You really think the Royals are any better? Remember the recording of (married) Charles being played on the world's media, wanting to be Camilla's tampon? William breaking RAF rules to buzz his fiance in a helicopter (try that if you are Joe Bloggs, got into pilot training thanks to straight A*'s from a state school - you'd be out on your ear, even supposing those round about you didn't stop it even happening)? Princess Margaret, a permanently pissed old junkie? Not to mention Philip's numerous gaffes.

This is preferable to an elected head of state?

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Monarchy obviously diminished us, because unlike France or Germany we are not Citizens but SUBJECTS

So because I am a 'subject' in UK I feel less a part of a nation than I would as a 'citizen' in US, France or Germany? That is nothing more than semantic claptrap and wordsmithing used to justify a view that in principle a republic is better than a monarchy.

Are you telling me that if you had a president as opposed to a monarchy your feeling about yourself and your role in society would change?

Please tell me what power the monarchy has the I am beholden to.

old soak like Charles,

Old soak?

spoiled brat like William

I am not sure what he has done to have that term applied to him

over someone democratically elected that you can kick out

And in the years he was in power, Blair was totally impotent and self-serving wanting to be loved by everyone. And you can't vote himout for 5 years once he gets in. Tell me - how is that better? The Royal family know that nowadays they are there because they have not pissed people off - even Tony Benn has admitted that in the last 50 years there have been times that the Queen has been the main institutional barrier that has stopped more power-seeking elements of Government (of both parties) making a massive power grab.

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Annual appraisals should be brought in:

Charles, full of good intentions. Could do better if he tried. 5/10*

Andrew, clocked up loads of air miles and had lots of free dinners. 2/10*

Anne, does stuff I think. Should raise her profile, but only a bit. 4/10*

And you know, the other one, err.......whatshisname, errrrr Edward.

Does absolutely feck all. 0/10.

Write out 1000 times "I must stop being a complete & utter total waste of feckin space.

* I admit to being massively generous with these scores.

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I'm in favour of the monarchy - good for tourism, better than politicians, and cheaper than presidential elections every 5 years (and bodyguards for life, and massive pensions, and replacement official residences, and and and).

Provided that they don't start wielding the power that they still (legally) hold; if Charlie were to try to block a law passed by parliament (for example), I'd be fully in favour of heads rolling.

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If you don't like it - move on plenty would like to come her in your place.

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