Combing the many phobias listed on the internet, I’ve been unable to find one that specifically defines a fear or dislike of royalty – the kind of regal pomp, pomposity and subsidised privilege we associate with the British royal family. The closest I could manage was the word, tyrannophobia, generally used to describe a fear of tyrants and autocracy. Can we extend its meaning to include not only a pathological dislike of royalty but the tyranny of the media in serving up such endless drivel about their shallow and anachronistic existence?
In Australia, there’s seldom an evening TV news program these days that does not include some totally inconsequential story about the British royals – most of it carefully generated by the Palace’s own PR department. Add to that the mass of print space they constantly occupy in the gossip and women’s mags as well as a tsunami of internet clickbait, and the saturation is unavoidable.
If you are a monarchist or simply somebody attracted to the Royal soap opera, you no doubt delight in this coverage. Even the scandal associated with a sleazebag like Prince Andrew offers a kind of gratuitous thrill, balanced of course by the goodliness of the Queen and the arrival of yet another Royal baby. On the other hand, if you are a Republican or somebody who believes in an egalitarian society, then the British Royal family is an anathema – particularly from an Australian perspective.
So for tyrannaophobics like myself, any scandal, illegality, disruption or dysfunction associated with the Royal family is griss to the classless mill. We stamp our commoner feet in joy as Prince Andrew is verbally disembowelled in a BBC News Night interview and exposed as the arrogant twat that he really is – even though we know justice, in this case, will probably never be served. When the ageing Duke trashes his Land Rover and injures two women, we know only too well he will never be charged with dangerous driving. That he is back behind the wheel a few days later only emphasises what Royal privilege really is.
You would think that it would take something of extraordinary significance to push the horrific bushfires off the front page of our daily newspapers. That was not the case with the Daily Telegraph last week who could not resist the “MEGXIT” banner, in announcing Harry and Meghan would be distancing themselves from the Royal circus. Our own national tragedy took second fiddle to the full page announcement that two of the Palace’s star performers would be opting for a more private lifestyle.
Such a terrible sense of betrayal, not only from the Royal family itself, but from the myriad of professional royal watchers, commentators, sycophants and tabloid rags who have built an industry around the couple. Not to mention the anguish suffered by the millions of Australian Harry and Meghan fans who are now left with only the adulterous and buffoonish Prince Charles, the balding and way too serious Prince William, the disgraced Prince Andrew and the increasingly disenchanted Queen to provide their daily feed of regal forage.
No doubt those with a vested interest in maintaining and profiting from media coverage of the Royals will look to quickly fill the vacuum left by “Megxit”, if in fact Harry and Meghan can effectively insulate themselves from constant tabloid surveillance. For true tyrannophobics, any disruption of this kind is welcome news. Firstly it encourages public debate as to just what the role and obligations of the Royals are, given that much of their lifestyle and security are taxpayer-funded.
It questions the whole relevance of the Royal family today, obviously more so in the UK, but certainly for Australia as well. Britain has chosen to hang on to its aristocrats, its monarchs, its lords, its knights and dames and other vestiges of a class defined society. Here in Australia we still seem partly subservient to that tradition – albeit in a strangely voyeuristic way.
Finally, I suggest the more militant tyrannophobics would agree – you have to hand it to the French. They had the enviable foresight to decapitate their aristocracy when that kind of barbarism was still acceptable.