Monarchical Musings from a New French Republican


It was a quiet family wedding. None of the usual state pomp – just a few close family members, a smattering of celebrities and public figures, several thousand cheering well-wishers, lining the streets of Windsor and a few hundred million millions watching it all on TV across the globe

Low key? Well, yes, in royal terms at least, yet, scanning social media after the event, the wedding of Meghan and Harry has still moved many people to voice their anti-royalist sentiment in their usual four-lettered eloquence.

So, I am not about to make a case for the monarchy, I am an indifferent royalist, but in our fractured society, I think that the current UK monarchy plays a key role in uniting us all, however fleeting this unison may be.

Key to the success is the Queen herself, at 92 years young, Elizabeth II seems to have unintentionally taken on the mantle of the nation’s « grandmother » – who doesn’t like the queen? She’s a nice old lady.

For sure the monarchy will change at the end of this Elizabethan age. It will increasingly become, the « peoples’ » monarchy – more low key, self effacing, self-financing but with all the pomp and ceremony ready to be rolled out on great state occasions.

I think this is often where we miss the point – the monarchy is public property – a small, but key state industry – a good advert for the UK.

If we were a republic, with a president, would it cost more or less? I don’t know, but the tourists would still be rolling into Britain to lap up the country’s royal past.

Yes, the Queen is a recognizable and credible figurehead that people rally to.

Last week, I attended my citizenship ceremony at my local town hall, and I was finally handed all those official papers that officially make me French. We had a short film and a long speech about France and the nation’s republican values – liberty, equality, and fraternity. A local official stressed the secular nature of the republic and … well the Brits get Queen and country and in France we subscribe to values. These values unite us whereas in the UK it seems to be the institution of monarchy.

The French are fascinated by the UK monarchy. In the weeks heading up to the royals wedding, there were many friends, colleagues and students asking incessant questions about the monarchy, whilst also voicing their « chagrin » that in France we have no kind perennial figurehead – someone to represent and symbolize the nation, someone who rises above politics, someone who can unify our diverse and at times divided society.

Should France restore her monarchy?

Do we need a new Napoleon?

What about an elected and popular celebrity to fulfil the role as a national ambassador?

Why don’t we make Emmanuel Macron an emperor?