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An Open Letter to John Oliver: Get Real About Monarchy

John, let me begin by saying how much I enjoy your show, Last Week Tonight. Your political satire is absolutely hilarious. You
are one of the best satirists in the business, and with that comes a lot of power to influence the discourse in the United States 640px-Royal_Standard_of_the_United_Kingdom.svgand abroad. We agree on many things, such as how utterly asinine pennies have become (and nickels for that matter). From Puerto Rican statehood, to lead in municipal water supplies, to US colonies… I mean “territories” having unequal rights, to for-profit judicial monitoring, credit reports, televangelists, tobacco marketing, and elected judges, we agree on most everything. You have even educated me on important issues of which I wasn’t even aware. Here is the “but”. Your views on monarchy are not funny, not in the least because I disagree with them, but they seem to be based on an animosity toward the person of the Sovereign.

Calling The Queen of England “decorative” demonstrates a lack of knowledge with regard to the royal prerogative, not to mention that Queen Anne was the last true Queen of England since the Act of Union 1707. Why does an American have to tell you this? Also, in 1975, the Australian Government was dismissed using the royal prerogative because they were behaving similar to how the US Congress behaves when they fail to fund the government. “Decorative” is not a word that I would use to describe Her Majesty. I think “self restrained” is a far more accurate description.

Saying that Game of Thrones has more impact on the lives of her subjects than she does is also ludicrous. The existence of Game of Thrones doesn’t net the British taxpayer a refund on their income taxes. According to Brand Finance, the monarchy netted the British economy £1,155 million during 2015. Assuming 29.3 million taxpayers in the UK, that’s a £39.4 per taxpayer per annum profit. Now take that money and go buy yourself a season DVD pack of Game of Thrones and thank The Queen. Republic’s counter-analysis should not be given any serious consideration because they don’t understand that the revenues from the Crown Estate, which belongs to the… you guessed it… Crown, is essentially taxed at 85%. The remaining 15% goes to the Sovereign Grant, which is money that is used to fund the Royal Household and its employees. In other words, the Crown pays for itself to work.

Saying The Queen serves no practical purpose in the modern era is ridiculous. The Queen’s purpose is to provide a nonpartisan check on the elected House of Commons, which has unlimited power without a codified constitution. Would you really want an elected Head of State? Heads of state, like judges, function better when they are not subject to a popularity contest. You said it yourself, “Elections are inherently compromising, because campaigns costs money, and that money has to come from somewhere.”

When disabled Syrian refugee, Noujain Mustaffa, 16, said it was her dream to meet The Queen, you made an off-color remark about The Queen not being “a real human with feelings.” A little too personal, don’t you think? Why don’t you have respect for her personally? I’m not asking for deference, just basic courtesy. Is a 90-year-old great-grandmother, who still works full-time, and a World War II veteran something not to be respected or admired?

Do you understand that there’s more to the trappings of monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II lived a middle-class existence before she inherited a job whose intrinsic stress slowly killed her father. She is one of the last great examples of permanent indentured servitude. She is serving a life sentence in a gilded cage, just so that she can continue to serve her country until her last breath. Talk about sacrifice.

I respect your position as a republican, but really John, you should lay off The Queen. Or at least get your writers to come up with some better jokes other than the Donald Trump-ish insults you lob her way. If you want to have a discussion on how failed monarchies ultimately failed their subjects, or whether absolute monarchism is more unstable than constitutional monarchism, then let us have that discussion. As far as I can tell, the British monarchy is one of the most successful institutions of state in the world. It has fostered a political environment which has given the British people the National Health Service as early as the 1940s, something that the American republic has failed to do to this day.

And speaking of an American republic… it’s not that republican. Bush, Adams, Rockefeller, Clinton, Kennedy, Paul, Cuomo, Daley… do those names sound familiar? They’re all American political dynasties that have been elected. Without a strong hereditary head of state, the American oligarchy is free to acquire as much power as it wants, which ends up negating the democratic process. That was the chief cause of the War of the Roses, but I digress. Perhaps you and the rest of the United States should get real about the institution of constitutional monarchy. I would be thrilled to take Queen Elizabeth II any day over my two choices this November.

  • a French Chef

    Well written, thank you. I believe that Her Majesty and the Royal heritage is attacked (in part) because they are above Oliverian sniping and back and forth. The lilly-livers in the media refuse to attack the Muslim domestic terrorists, or the Black Panther domestic terrorists out of fear – in fact the liberal media holds the door for them.

  • Emmalein

    Nicely articulated. You could also add that HM The Queen has for 70 years kept a promise made when she was just 21. How many people of any walk of life can say that?

  • Chris Fourie

    Well said! Her Majesty is a shining example of what is still good in this world. Long live the queen!!!

  • Martha Clark

    Hear, hear! Truly well said!! I’d trade Hillary and the Donald for HM the Queen in a New York minute! What does worry me is what will happen when the Queen passes away. I wonder if the heir has the substance, commitment and sense of duty to fill even the tiniest slippers QEII ever wore… May the Queen live forever indeed!

  • Nelson Sparks

    I was watching the BBC one morning in June 83 and saw the Queen riding to Trooping the Colors. Somebody in the crowd pulled out a gun and emptied it at her from just yards away. Her horse tried to buck her off but she got it under control and got it back in line and rode on without even a glance back. Turned out it was a starter pistol but even if it had been a real gun and she was wounded, I have no doubt she would have tried to ride on and perform her duties. One of the truly bravest things I’ve ever watched.

  • Thomas

    John Oliver is a nobody Brit in his own country that wormed his way onto gutter American TV by way of his whiny Brit accent. He’s not even funny. Piss off Oliver. You are a no talent hack that barely makes it in America, catering your stupid humor to the narrowest slice of the US TV audience. Your own country thinks your a tw*t, not funny and a panderer for the US Big Bucks. Take your sh*tty remarks about the Queen back home to England and see the audience’s reaction there (do I her crickets?). What a wanker!

    • Grow Up

      A little over dramatic today??

  • Thomas

    Nicely put Sir. Very gallant of you to offer such a gentlemanly rebuttal. This fellow Oliver is not very bright. He’s a media parasite, not really funny and grasping at straws to be funny in Jon Stuart’s (real name Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz) wake.

    • j2saret

      At least he has a last name. Your poverty of soul mimics your poverty of mind and appellation.

  • Stephen Wigmore

    John Oliver is a cheap comedian and should be generally ignored by anyone of sense. Nothing he says should be taken seriously. It’s worth a cheap laugh at best.

  • KWB

    It is palpably absurd to have someone whose power is inherited through a bloodline – with no other innate qualifications to have the power to dismiss a government and de-select an elected head of government. To compare that situation with families who have shared an interest in the same line of work (true of many families) but who we can refuse to vote for is also fallacious. There is much wrong with the democracy on both sides of the channel but at least it is open to improvement. The monarchy itself is a block to such improvement. It is entirely subjective as to whether the British Monarchy have been successful – it may well have been instrumental in perpetuating the injustice in the world and the anger and frustration that then ensues and cannot always find a constructive outlet. Personal insults directed at the Queen don’t get us very far – but at the same time she buys into the idea that she and her family are intrinsically and innately superior to others. That’s a fairly unattractive quality.

  • Not impressed

    Canada is still tied to the monarchy. All they do is cost our tax payers money with their royal visits. They should be paying for their own expenses.

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