Violence and the Queen

A collage of conversations around the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend

Are you doing anything for the jubilee weekend?

No, I couldn’t. I’d get too cross.

Are you being a grumpy old woman?

Well, I can’t stomach it. It would be like… riding a roller coaster on the Gaza strip. All that jollity and celebration, but something rotten at the heart of it that I can’t get past. I can’t put the context to one side.

I’m just going to see the boats – you never get to see a show like that.

Yeah, it’s true… I was going to go to my friend’s event, called Incitement. He was going to screen films that incite people to violence.

That’s nice! How fitting, this weekend.

Exactly! It’s very much planned for the jubilee. But he rearranged it. The problem for me is that whenever you get near the queen you have something at stake in behaving well, something you’re you’re meant to thank her for – like if she’s giving money to your charity or something – so you can’t be violent. Normal people don’t get to meet her unless we’ve got something that could be jeopardised.

You want to be violent to the queen?

Yes, I’d find it hard to stop myself.

You want to hurt a little old lady…

She’s more than that.

I know, but… Seriously, you want to be violent to her?

If that’s what it takes. When I say violence, I don’t necessarily mean hitting someone or setting fire to a building, more like an act that punctures or disrupts something. If I was in a room with the queen, I’d find it really hard not to push her, or shout, or chuck a glass of water in her face. Something that punctures the… fawning and admiration, I suppose. And something that doesn’t allow her to feel comfortable in this situation, wielding power supposedly over a population who consent to it – however passive that consent is. I don’t consent, I’d want her to know that – I think it’s really important. I want her to feel her position’s at risk, which it should be.

Why don’t you like her?

She’s a symbol of the massive social inequalities in this country. And theocracy, inherited entitlement rather than democracy. You know, the Guardian did a survey after the riots and one in 12 mentioned the queen – not all said directly that she was the reason they were rioting, but she’s a symbol of these inequalities, she reinforces them. It sounds vague, but I think arguments on the other side are vague too. Someone on the radio described her as “cultural glue holding our society together”. I have no idea what that means.

I guess I have nothing against the queen as an individual. You know, she’s been trained from an early age to do this role – she doesn’t know anything else. If there’s going to be change, I think it needs to be cultural, or political.

Yeah, that’s true, there does need to be cultural and political change. But I just can’t forgive her for being complicit in her situation. She doesn’t have to sign up to it. She could abdicate any time, say, “Actually, I’ve just realised this is all really silly, let’s put an end to the whole thing.” But she doesn’t, she carries on. She visits charities or whatever, but that’s the least she can do when she’s participating in a situation that’s causing harm to this country.