28 October, 2015

Down with the Royals by Joan Smith

If you are a royalist this is not a book for you. The author, Joan Smith, is an English novelist, journalist and human rights activist (and obviously not a royal supporter).

In this book she tries to look objectively at the position of the royal family in the British establishment, and also at the general environment of the royals in the British media. She refers to the monarchy as “an aberration in the modern world” and queries why the heads of state in Britain for possibly the next hundred years have already been decided; they will be males probably in the twilight of their lives (very much over the hill when they become king), will not be elected nor have any democratic basis for appointment.  She notes that at birth Prince George became the third in line to become head of state, when he had no understanding of the requirements and consequences of this, and in fact was not yet able to talk.

Ms. Smith notes that in addition to this undemocratic process of leadership, there is a deep process of underlying support to maintain the status quo.  The media typically report positive stories of the benefits of, and widespread public support for, the monarchy - such as the proportion of the population who support the royals, and the royal family’s influence on tourism.  Joan Smith says they are not objective and states that the reported figures are often adjusted or misrepresented, and the tourism factor is far from positive compared to other similar countries.  She is critical of the ‘royal correspondents’, whom she likens to cheerleaders.

This is a small book, but Ms Smith fills it with her strong views and detailed background facts. As a last comment on ‘God Save the Queen’, she says “… in the 21st century we shouldn’t still be imploring an imaginary deity to save an inherited head of state.”

Title: Down with the Royals
Author: Joan Smith

Reviewed by: Ana, Central Library

Ana enjoys reading and listening to music, travelling and many other things. She reads fiction, non-fiction and from genres, only crime: the Scandinavian crime writers, Patricia Highsmith and any new and good writer.

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