This Friday, unless Prince William is jilted at the alter (currently a 100-1 outside bet according to Oddschecker), the second in line to the British throne will marry Kate Middleton. Half the country will watch, and half the country will be doing everything they can to make sure they don't watch. Along with the non-republican half of the country I will be hanging up the bunting, eating cucumber sandwiches and cream cakes, and drinking tea out of my William and Kate mug. Despite my near-communist beliefs, and a general distaste for inherited privilege, I am (at least for the present) a Royalist.
Wealth and opportunity are extremely unevenly distributed in the UK, and whilst it may appear unfair for the head of state to be based on the luck of the womb, most of the people who 'have done well for themselves' have in fact done well in their 'choice' of womb. There are far better places to start if we want to root out inherited privileges than doing away with the Royal Family; let us impose 100% inheritance tax, abolish private schools, do away with jobs and interns through the old boy network, nationalize industries rather than subsidize corporations. When we bring about a real socialist utopia, then let us deal with the rather minor point of the royal head of state.
It's not just about wealth and opportunity, people will argue, it's about the right for people to choose our own head of state to represent the country around the world. Putting aside the fact that the British public aren't even allowed to choose the Eurovision Song Contest entry these days due to their appallingly bad taste, let us suppose for the moment they have the right to choose a head of state. It seems the options are either to have a ceremonial head of state, or combine the post with the head of government. Neither sounds particular appealing.
A ceremonial head of state either promises a future where the British public recognizes the post's non-political role and elect one celebrity candidate after another, or alternatively recognizes the gravity of the role and vote for more politically minded individuals. I do not want a political head of state, whether ceremonial or combined with the head of government, if for no other reason than when they represent this country I don't want to confuse the person and their politics with the office.
Having a political head of state necessarily brings forward confusing allegiances. It was interesting to read some Democratic bloggers when the Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at George W. Bush. Whilst they disliked Bush, they couldn't help but see the shoe being thrown at the office of President. If someone takes a pot-shot at David Cameron I don't want to see it as a shot at the British way of life represented by the British head of state, but rather see it as the death of nothing more than a crap Prime Minister. As long as would be assassins leave the monarch alone, I promise not to take it as a personal slight.
When I watch the royal wedding this Friday I will be watching the continuation of the British tradition. I will be celebrating the fact I am not French with tea and sandwiches. If the monarch of the day starts to abuse their royal privileges, or a socialist utopia is built on these shores, we can revisit the situation again, but until then, as long as the Queen and all who follow her continue their current apolitical position, I will continue to wave my union jacks at the appropriate national occasions.