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Apr 17, 2014

Razer's Class Warfare: Wills, Kate will never be royals -- but they can be celebs

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are in Sydney, and they will no doubt be on their blandest, most boringly dutiful behaviour. But that's not due to the dignity of their titles -- it's in opposition.


Wills kate

Last week, when giddy praise followed the grim loss of Peaches Geldof, my colleague Guy Rundle was on hand to bury the death. In a rather good piece for Crikey, he observed that Britain’s fascination for “It Girls” was made possible by the nation’s bygone attachment to nobility.

Geldof’s rule — more authoritative than a (Kylie) Minogue’s or a (Lindsay) Lohan’s — was permitted by the heredity of fame and maintained by a life apparently spent in the new sovereign leisure: gold teeth, Grey Goose, tripping in the bathroom.

She would never be royal, but she was, in the least figurative sense, a princess.

Guy is not the first to observe that the divine right once reserved for kings is now enjoyed by the famous. Just as monarchs were once held to be subject to no judgement but God’s, celebrities are above earthly law. Even if they’re done for DUI, their mug shots are not so much evidence of criminality but a promise of forgiveness for every weekend spent in blood stains, ball gowns, trashing the hotel room. Actual royals no longer enjoy the possibility of redemption.

If Guy, as is often the case, is right and drug-fucked celebrocrat princesses now inspire the best deference, then what of the changes to traditional princess employment? The Duchess of Cambridge, newly arrived in Sydney, has a purpose that is certainly diminished and probably distinct from those who once stood in her espadrilles.

Catherine and her husband are, I would argue, not part of an ongoing tradition as far as we, their future subjects, are concerned. Their lives are a new exercise in wholesome niche-branding — mildly less successful than One Direction’s, given the modest size of their audience in Sydney yesterday.

Royalty is no longer the business of royals. What we have seen on this tour — and from the time that normal dad William put normal son George in a normal baby capsule in a normal car in a normal act of normal as his normal wife normally displayed her normal baby bump — is an act of press choreography as bland as it is novel.

Monarchists, of course, will argue that tradition remains undisturbed, that the grandly dull young Mountbatten-Windsors are as conventionally inspirational as they will be one day constitutional. But monarchists forget their history, and accolades for an imagined ongoing practice of niceness continue. This rot in The Courier-Mail typifies the idea that the purpose of the monarchy is renewed by the couple. They are “fresh-faced, respectable people who have managed to restore the public’s regard of royalty to a level not observed for generations”. Although no generation ever esteemed its monarch for being fresh-faced and respectable.

“It is certainly true that the Duke and Duchess offer no hint of scandal in an age afflicted with it.”

Blah blah return to tradition. Blah blah role model. Blah blah we hunger for the steady dignity of a sovereign in an age dominated by reports of crank-fuelled blowjobs in the loos of the Chateau Marmont.

Such lavatory acts were the remit of Knights of the Garter for centuries. Those born noble were not required to act well and so, for the most part, they did not. It wasn’t so long ago that a blozzer-in-the-hotel-loo royal story would have been unsurprising. Monarchists seem to have forgotten a recent age of royal-celebrity fusion that featured toe-sucking, bulimia and tampon-fetish. The contention that William Wales is acting as his family always has is pish. Pop him in a Nazi uniform and into the arms of a transgender sex worker dressed as Anne Frank. That’s the royal tradition, now enacted by celebrities.

The Duke and Duchess represent a new habit of complicity with a press that finds moments of non-scandal are good for business.

Naturally, there were those prompted by old habit to greet them at the Sydney Opera House. But there were also those, including contemporary hit FM station Nova, which used the occasion as a branding exercise, who like the couple for precisely the same reasons they like Zooey Deschanel. Namely, they are “fresh-faced, respectable people” who have managed, unlike Deschanel, to secure what seems to be a fairly binding guarantee of uncritical press.

It is certainly true that the Duke and Duchess offer no hint of scandal in an age afflicted with it. But their decorum is hardly traditional. If we overlook Her Majesty, an unusually dutiful sovereign, the royal Houses have long and recently been staffed by adulterers and idiots. When one’s reputation is acquired by birth, there is no point in maintaining it. William’s parents certainly didn’t bother. Nor did his great-aunt Margaret, his abdicating antecedent Edward VIII, James I, Henry VIII and anyone called Charles. Profligate conduct has long been the royal rule and not its exception.

That the dreary Duke and Duchess are obliged to actively build and uphold the dignity once conferred by their titles is evidence that fewer of us give half a shit for the monarchy.

They will never be royals. But, if they continue their pact with the press, they just may continue to be impotent celebrities who are famous for being fresh-faced and famous. They will be judged by us here on earth while Geldof speaks to her maker.



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Competing in a crowded marketplace, Razor clearly feels authorized to pontificate upon the illuminated status of others scrabbling to be heard, seen, upon the ‘catwalk’ of life. In the real world, such inate frivolity exists solely in the present; has no relationship with or to, past or future.
So when Razor extends her frivolous analysis of Personalities, Celebrities to long serving, valued Institutions bridging centuries of community, societal service and relevance, she seeks to substitute substance with triviality. Undermining Institutions by linking, denigrating behaviour, fraility of human condition serves no one’s interest!

Venise Alstergren
GRAYBUL: Congratulations for utterly missing HELEN RAZER’S whole point. It takes real talent to miss the point of an article, but you’ve done it. Go to the top of the class. Helen’s point is 1) Today’s royals have, in their desperate quest for publicity, become mirror images of every two bit bint with a dress slit up to her fanny and a huge pair of sunglasses, aspires to become. Huh? Whoa tiger, not there yet? Relevance. 2) Everyone in the entertainment industry-especially the royals-aspire to ‘Relevance.’ Relevance! The poor bloody royals have no persona or, relevance, outside their ‘royalness.’ Isn’t… Read more »
Dan B

Or, they could simply, and legitimately, be fresh faced, respectable people sick of past generations, and literally trying to clean royalty up..

Kate Sommerville
I think the young Windsors (Cambridges?) are celebrities and that is purely typical of the times. Rupert Murdoch was actually responsible for commodifying William’s mother, Princess Diana. She was the first ‘celebrity of the modern era, was she not? I don’t mind one way or the other. What is, is, and I value our English background. We have changed that quite a lot over the last two centuries for the better, I think. If we were to have a republic I am not sure that the processes of electing a President would be free of political influence and corruption. I… Read more »
Kate Sommerville

Ooops – correction to second last para … “The monarch is shown to be witty, WISE and enduring”.

Apologies to the Queen. She would not mind, and has always been gracious and beautiful, as well as witty.

Venise Alstergren
GRAYBUL: You are to be congratulated for missing the point of Razer’s article. I am told that my comments are too rude to get published, so I’m making an special effort to be nice….. Back to my theme. I don’t understand why you arrive at the following conclusion…”Razor clearly feels authorized to pontificate upon the illuminated status of others scrabbling to be heard, seen, upon the ‘catwalk’ of life.” Perhaps it is a question? Should the question be as follows:- Helen Razer is a writer. This mean she is free to comment on a wide range of issues AS LONG… Read more »
@ BookishMisfit – “It is really the institution of the monarchy that is under question here, not the young Royals.” ..and thats why the Windsors are so well behaved these days, they know they’re still overpaid by the taxpayer thanks only to habit. “Could we maintain a connection with the monarchy and still be a republic?” Get them a cage at the zoo? A float at Moomba? “If we did not have this kind of royalty, people would create another and it may be worse.” As Razer points out we already have, and they are not very admirable. But isn’t… Read more »
Venise Alstergren
LIAMJ: Can you not see how easy it is for Australians to fall between two hard places? The monarchists will vote for foreign royalty and the Republicans will vote to stand on our own two feet. The real danger lies, as it did when John Howard was rigging the questions to make sure a republic didn’t eventuate, with any large group of people who decide to become spoilers. In the last referendum many people, including ones who should have known better, took the attitude, “Well if people aren’t going to vote for my template for a republic, I’m going to… Read more »
Kate Sommerville
@Liamj – I think there are worse things than the Royals or the institution of the monarchy itself. We don’t have to watch any of the TV coverage or read the newspaper reports. Many don’t. I don’t bother with other kinds of celebrity either. Why waste the energy? We managed to have strong elements of a social democracy despite being figuratively part of a monarchy. Some of the best social democracies in Europe developed in monarchical societies. Real social democracies care for everyone and it worries me more that the social democratic principles which underpinned out own country for decades… Read more »

Yawn. Second-rate media hacks tearing into the Royals has been a pastime for at least as long as unimaginative columnists have lacked any idea what to write for their weekly spray. Filed the same way I’d consign any dull razor.

No, I’m not a monarchist.



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