THE WAY I SEE IT #22 : By Darren Murphy

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THE royals have been grabbing all the headlines this week with the announcement the Duchess is expecting. One newspaper, The Daily Mail, even printed a 14-page royal pull-out, which came in handy for cleaning my paint brushes while doing a spot of decorating the other day! To understand how big this news is to the British media, Tuesday’s edition of The Sun was perhaps an accurate barometer, as you know it’s hugely important when the page three girl gets shunted to page seven! Okay, I’m being a bit sarcastic, but to put it bluntly, who actually cares if Kate is cooking a royal bun?

Not me, that’s for sure. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’ve no personal vendetta against Wills and Kate. No, not at all. It’s great news for them, a young couple starting a family, but let’s face it, that’s all it is. It happens all over the world, twenty-four-seven. Why should this pregnancy be different to any other? How is Kate, sorry “The Duchess”, any different from a young pregnant woman living on state benefits? She isn’t really, as we are paying for them both, the taxpayer that is. It’s just the benefit package the royals receive is much larger than the welfare ordinary new mothers have to survive on. After all, Kate and William’s offspring will be born with a hereditary right to one day be our head of state. That’s not going to happen if you’re about to give birth and living on a council estate, your child just isn’t as special as a royal baby. What’s democratic about that?

You might have guessed I’m not too fond of the monarchy, but I have my reasons, one of which is the estimated £202.4million the royal household costs the taxpayer annually. Couldn’t that money be used elsewhere given the UK’s current financial problems? The exact cost of this year’s Jubilee celebrations is unknown, but my guess is it ran into hundreds of millions. And this just goes to prove how out of touch the Queen actually is when much of the population is unemployed, underprivileged and unable even to afford simple necessities such as food, heating and electricity.

Inequality in Britain will never be relinquished while the monarchy is in place, and some will argue the latter’s tradition and history is too important. But history is exactly what needs to be created and the monarchy needs to be abolished. “Oh but they bring so much money in tourism” is the argument many people have. Believe me, I’ve researched my figures and the amount the royals contribute to British tourism is miniscule. And I’m confident if the royal residences were vacated and opened to the public, the figure would be considerably larger.

Britain is supposedly a democratic society, and if this is truly the case, should there really be a hereditary head of state? Shouldn’t we all be seen as equals and hold a freedom to participate in government, accountability and transparency? Yes we should, but at present the monarchy is undermining our right to democracy. Maybe I should pay more attention to what happens regarding the new addition to the royal family, after all I’m going to be buying his or hers shoes and clothing. And just for the record so are you!

I’ve got a Heckler!

I received a bit of stick from a reader recently who claimed I never wrote anything meaningful and I should get a job. This is highly understandable as I’m writing an opinion column I’ve got to expect that some people aren’t going to agree with or like some of the things I write. On reading my detractor’s comments, I immediately had the urge to react like a comedian who’s just been verbally abused by a drunk in the crowd, before settling to take the criticism and use it constructively. It did occur to me, though, that I’m a damn site braver than my nemesis who posted on a recent column, late at night under a pseudonym.

My heckler may not like my writing, but just for the record I’ve never been out of work and I’m extremely proud that my ugly mug appears above my blog each week. That takes a bit of courage, believe me, and at least I’m not hiding behind a fake name.