By Kyle | April 27, 2011
Amusing that George Orwell’s take on the monarchy was “an idea almost as old as history, the idea of the King and the common people being in a sort of alliance against the upper classes.” Ha. That about says it: We need the royal family because who else can we put on our tea towels and souvenir plates? I can’t imagine the average BMW driver in London cares about the royal nuptials. This passage from a 1944 essay is also fairly astute:
Nothing is harder than to be sure whether royalist sentiment is still a reality in England. All that is said on either side is coloured by wish-thinking. My own opinion is that royalism, i.e. popular royalism, was a strong factor in English life up to the death of George V, who had been there so long that he was accepted as “the” King (as Victoria had been “the” Queen), a sort of father-figure and projection of the English domestic virtues. The 1935 Silver Jubilee, at any rate in the south of England, was a pathetic outburst of popular affection, genuinely spontaneous. The authorities were taken by surprise and the celebrations were prolonged for an extra week while the poor old man, patched up after pneumonia and in fact dying, was hauled to and fro through slum streets where the people had hung out flags of their own accord and chalked “Long Live the King. Down with the Landlord” across the roadway.
“Long live the king, down with the landlord” deserves to be a familiar quotation. It should be as famous as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
A few months ago I read “Coming Up for Air.” Last weekend I took a stroll on “The Road to Wigan Pier.” This week I’m on “Keep the Aspidistra Flying.” Casual acquaintances of the writings of Eric Arthur Blair may not realize how funny he was, in addition to being among the pithiest of writers.