Editorial: The Alternative Queen’s Speech
(A text to be read before the real thing on Christmas Day)
I’m speaking to you today from Sandringham — or is it Balmoral? No matter, it’s one of the big houses or palaces I own and every Christmas Day I intrude on what enjoyment you might be having to foist a boring speech on you which is supposed to strike a thoughtful, humane note among the celebrations. I’m sitting in a sort of study and behind me is a window which opens onto the lush estate where my house stands.
I own these places because I’m a very rich woman – I’m worth about £3,340 million. Although I was born into this wealth and have never known what it is like to be poor, I shall be talking to you as if I’m the sort of ordinary, everyday grandmother you’re likely to have a chat with in the bus queue or the doctor’s waiting room or at the supermarket check-out. Except that I am the mother of the nation (for my recent ancestors it was of the Empire) unless Margaret Thatcher manages to take that bit over as well. So for this broadcast I compose my face into this maternal expression—calm, caring, perceptive, wise.
A lot of people seem to believe that it’s my speech, all thought up by me. Well I do have a say in it but it’s really what the people I work for tell me to say. I’m what is called a constitutional monarch — I do what the government tell me — and if I kick over the traces I’ll end up like my Uncle Edward.
Whatever is in my speech the media people will report it as if its really profound, earth-shattering, historical. They’ll dredge through the frigid platitudes in the hope of finding some small nugget of humour, or controversy or intelligence. Then they’ll blow it up into a big headline —“Queen Says War’s A Killer”, that sort of thing. I don’t blame them; media people are like everyone else — except those like me — they have to earn a living.
In case my speech comes over as too boring and trivial I try to touch on some real problems which you might be experiencing. Like being homeless or struggling with life in a slum or in a high rise or battling to keep up with the mortgage on a regimented semi somewhere. This is a bit of a cheek, coming from someone who owns these big houses but I can’t let on about the real housing problem — like shopping at the supermarket or having to queue for the doctor its part of the wider poverty of all who work for their living.
This being Christmas I have to say something about children, to fit in with all that schmaltz about little faces aglow around the tree and so on. I drop hints that childhood is not all like that — about violent, broken families, drugs, crime, dead-end years in comprehensive schools. It wasn’t like that for my children; they had the best of everything, their schools carefully chosen and their whole lives based on the confidence that they would never want for anything. Perhaps that’s why I get so upset at all those news items about Koo Stark and so on . . .
I often refer to problems abroad which, I say sadly, are casting such a blight across the joys of this great Christian festival. Like war, famine, epidemics — always easy to talk about because they are going on somewhere all the time, wiping out millions every year. I pretend they’re like social quirks which would go away if the Christmas spirit — peace on earth, goodwill to all and so on —were allowed to last all year. Some people might be awkward and ask about these problems being knit into the fabric of a social system which awards these great privileges to me and forces degradation onto you. But they’re obviously suffering from a lack of that christmas spirit.
And that brings me to Christmas itself. All those singing cash registers. All that rubbish being sold. All that nonsense spouted from pulpits and in programmes like this one. I try to forget that Christmas is only a short break in the routine, year-in year-out, exploitation, poverty, conflict and insecurity which you endure and the wealth and capital accumulation which keeps me so cosy. That’s what destroys people’s hopes, distorts their lives, represses them, kills them. And I’m one of its most prominent figureheads.
But I mustn’t go on like this. My job is to encourage the most massive diversion of your attention from reality into a circus world of noise and colour. Remember my wedding? My coronation? The jubilee? The weddings of my children? You loved them all, they made you forget where you really stand in the social order, what your lives are really like. And that is what I’m supposed to do, in this Christmas Day broadcast for example.
Well it’s been nice getting this off my chest — a change from the usual twaddle. Oh, there’s something else . . . Merry Christmas. Suckers.