Why does the world always wait for a member of a royal family to validate an issue before acknowledging its gravity?
Countless news headlines lead with comments from a random royal on social issues, and photos of royals are splashed across websites even though the royal played no part in the event or speaks with no authority on the issue.
Royals are propagandists
Royal families are the world’s most gifted propagandists. They have used propaganda for centuries to maintain hegemony. They have used propaganda to convince their subjects that they rule by divine right, through the mandate of a chosen deity.
When royals attend an event, they do so for propaganda. Their marketing arm, which is large, arranges suitable photo opportunities which maintain the positive public image of the family and the very institution, in the same way that marketing teams present a positive, and inaccurate, image of politicians.
Propaganda is powerful.
In many countries, royalty is the government and the government controls all media. This certainly explains the positive coverage of the Sultan of Brunei, and explains the reaction to his decrees. The Sultan is known to issue a ‘titah’, or an address to the nation, whenever he feels the need. Every person in Brunei must get off the streets, close their shops, cease classes and other non-essential tasks, and tune into the address.
The Sultan will lecture his subjects on any topic. He might tackle the issue of obesity among Bruneians. The very next day, every government employee, school and university student will be forced into a government mandated health check and fitness program, which normally lasts until everyone loses interest, or until the next ‘titah’ is delivered on a completely different topic.
Bruneians are forced to get healthy because a royal commented on the issue, despite the fact that countless doctors, nurses and health experts had been advising Bruneians to get healthy for years.
But who are royals in reality?
What authority do they hold?
They’re simply born or marry into a particular family.
They’re not scientists, so they speak with absolutely no authority on the issue of climate change. Despite this, Australian news networks devoted much column space to a meeting between the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prince Charles of England. The article implied that Morrison had to justify Australia’s climate policy to Prince Charles. The same news networks rarely, if ever, show Morrison meeting with environmental organisations, Greens politicians, victims of climate events or renewable energy corporations. Morrison is not shown justifying his (deplorable) environmental policies to those who are experts in the field or victims of climate change. Yet somehow the issue of climate change becomes real when a royal speaks about it.
Furthermore, Queen Elizabeth II spoke at COP26 in 2021. The world has ignored expert scientists, conservationists, ecologists, renewable energy advocates and other environmental authorities for years and years, but the moment an unqualified royal speaks about climate change, the media endorses the Queen’s call to protect the environment, as if now we must start to tackle climate change.
Lecturing the world on democracy
Royals are not immune to lecturing the world on democracy, especially when it is under threat. Prince Charles of England brought this to the world’s attention when he commented on the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.
Prince Charles was reported in the mainstream media criticising the attack and claiming that the values of democracy were under attack.
“In the stand we take here, we are in solidarity with all those who are resisting brutal aggression,” he was quoted as saying. Even his son and daughter-in-law, Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, said they stood with the people of Ukraine.
Thus, the royals claimed they stood in solidarity with all those resisting brutal aggression, except when that same brutal aggression saw countless territories stolen from indigenous people in the name of king and crown and led to the creation of the British Empire.
Rugby World Cup
Prince Harry made headlines when he entered the dressing rooms immediately after South Africa won the 2019 Rugby World Cup and congratulated Siya Kolisi and the team. The victory was significant because Kolisi was the first black captain of the Springboks to win a world cup, not so long after black South Africans were barred from even playing the sport. Kolisi was a story in himself having overcome many obstacles to captain the winning team. And yet, It was as if the victory was not real until Prince Harry personally congratulated the captain.
This is despite the fact that the British royals are certainly not experts on race relations and the rights of oppressed people. They are the oppressors, even in the case of South Africa. The English government, headed by the royal family, colonised South Africa and oppressed and murdered Indigenous South Africans. It is largely the fault of the British royal family, and the Afrikaaners, that it took so long for a black South African to captain the ‘Boks.
Proof of their poor record on race is British colonisation, as well as the tabloid news stories about a leaked message from within the British royal family decrying the racial background of Meghan Markel and the colour of her child’s skin.
Harry and Meghan made news for other reasons.
In January 2022, news outlets reported their concerns over the spread of COVID misinformation on Spotify. This is a worthy statement. But, again, why did media networks devote so much space to the concerns of a pair of royals, when health experts, media experts, governments and other authorities in this field had been raising the same concerns, with much more authority, for months and months prior to the royal statement.
Royals are celebrities
Royal families these days are nothing but celebrities. Celebrities create clickbait. This explains some of the attention given to royals in the media. But most articles and headlines do more than note the presence of the royal. They are written in such a way that the presence or comment of the royal validates an issue or event that was hitherto less important.
Interestingly, articles about a royal calling for an end to world hunger often run beside an article about which royal wore a designer-label dress better.
In all of the examples listed above, how much actual work had each royal devoted to each issue?
How much time had Prince Harry spent trying to encourage and welcome black South Africans into rugby union. How much work has he done in this sphere since sneaking into the dressing room?
How many meetings had Harry and Meghan conducted with Spotify before demanding an end to COVID misinformation? How many meetings have they had since issuing that statement?
What has any royal family, anywhere in the world, done to alleviate world poverty. What have they done in any real sense? Many of them could start by offering some of their enormous personal fortunes and wealth to those in need.
So why is it not real until it’s royal?
Perhaps we can blame the Spanish, or speakers of other Latin languages. In Spanish, the word ‘real’ means both ‘real’ and ‘royal’. Thus, Real Madrid is not the ‘authentic’ Madrid football team, but the ‘royal’ Madrid football team.
Finally, the world is still waiting for a royal to condemn the actions of Raphael Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.