There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between monarchy and religion, both are clearly happy to rule in the absence of democracy and both, despite being rather archaic principles, are still adored by a substantial number of loyal followers.
In recent UK history we have enjoyed both a fairly benign monarchy in Queen Elizabeth II and a relatively benign religion in the Church of England.
When the Church is quietly presiding over our weddings and carol services, most of us enjoy the sense of occasion, tradition and ceremony it provides. However, when it starts imposing its more irrational beliefs and pious perceived superior morality on modern society, many of us become less tolerant.
The rise of scepticism and the recent popularity of the new atheism is undoubtedly in part a reaction to the more fundamentalist end of the religious spectrum. When the religious are telling their children nice old stories about arks and floods on a Sunday morning, no one really gets too excited, but when they start trying to impose anti scientific creationism in main stream education or seemingly ordinary zoo’s, critical thinking people start getting pissed off.
While the Church of England generally remains a nice cosy bastion of traditional English summer fetes, home made jam, Victoria sponge cakes and cucumber sandwiches, we don’t need to look too far to see the consequences of taking their teachings more literally.
Like the Church of England, the Queen provides a similar cosy sense of traditionalism. Many enjoy the pomp of state occasions and the old dear is very reliable at official openings; she’s always very nicely turned out, and more importantly she doesn’t give us the benefit of her personal wisdom. Bearing in mind her thoughts on homeopathy, this is just as well.
But the public's clear preference for vacant looking emotional bimbo princesses over the current Queen suggests that the Royal Family needs to tread carefully to ensure it remains in public favour. However, Prince Charles’ recent declaration of jihad on the enlightenment suggests that he will perhaps be less good at keeping schtum than mummy.
The effective, focused and cohesive criticism we have seen against less benign religious behaviour suggest a potential similar reaction against a less benign monarchy. A backlash that the monarchy might struggle to survive.
Oh and just in case this post seems contrary to my frequent support for free speech, I have no desire to legislate against Charlie being able to speak his brains, just musing on the cost.