December 4, 2022

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John Oliver on the British monarchy: ‘Like the appendix. We evolved long ago in the past we need it ‘| John Oliver

yohn Oliver went into the British monarchy at Last Week Tonight, as the royal family is ‘in transition’ after The death of Queen Elizabeth II At the age of 96 in September. “In the UK, the argument has been that in the wake of the Queen’s death, it was not the time to criticize her or the monarchy in general. It would be impolite,” Oliver explained. “But two months have passed since then, and Charles is now king.”

Oliver argued that while for many, the Queen’s charm lay in her longevity and “her penchant for silence – she didn’t really know what she thought of anything”, none of these things applied to her son.

Charles ascended the throne at the age of 73 after a life in the spotlight, a messy divorce and several public gaffes. “He does not enjoy his mother’s obscurity, or a level of public affection, and his ascension to the throne comes at a time when the UK is facing a cost-of-living crisis,” Oliver explained.

Which led him to question the purpose of the monarchy, both for the United Kingdom and for countries around the world in which the monarch still represents.

He explained that the king’s job is to be the head of state, a symbolic position charged with receiving incoming and outgoing ambassadors and heads of state, and making official visits abroad. “Think of the royals as Mickey and Minnie at Disneyland – they don’t run the rides, but they are the mantra of the whole operation, and people love having their picture taken with them,” Oliver said.

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Defenders of the monarchy will say the ceremonial aspect is the point; The royal family’s website describes the king as “a hub of national identity, unity and pride” which “gives a sense of stability and continuity”.

“But that comes at a price,” Oliver said, referring to the 100 million pounds ($117 million) British taxpayers pay each year in the form of a sovereign grant to support the royal family. Oliver pointed out the “stars” on the Sovereign Grant, where the royal family had other sources of income: private wealth whose details are closely guarded, and the Duchy of Lancaster, a huge property portfolio containing land seized by the monarchy in the 13th century. century. (The wallet paid the Queen $27 million in the year before her death.) And there’s also the Duchy of Cornwall, another $1 billion real estate portfolio now in Prince William’s hands, which brought in $26 million last year.

“The wealth of the royal family, unlike their genes, is enormous,” Oliver said. The two duchesses are exempt from corporate tax, and Charles pays no inheritance taxes, “and when you factor all that into consideration, you sure feel like they cost a hell of a lot more than a pound per person,” Oliver said.

Oliver has been vocal about his feelings for the royal family: “They’re like the human appendix. We’ve evolved long past our need for it and there’s a good reason to have it surgically removed.” But he acknowledged that he is in the minority for the British people, with 67% of the opinion that the monarchy should survive.

But their role abroad is a more open question. Oliver briefly summarized the role of the royal family in the transatlantic slave trade, which was established by royal charter. He said, “I understand that people should not be held personally responsible for what their predecessors did, but trying to talk about the British role in the slave trade without talking about the monarchy is kind of like trying to talk about Jeffrey Epstein without talking about the monarchy. They are inextricably linked, but they are They may find this fact uncomfortable.”

He also reminded viewers of “one of the most atrocious acts committed by the British”: the crushing Mao Mao’s Rebellion by the Kikuyu people in Kenya, which is what happened in the early years of Elizabeth’s reign. The Kenya Human Rights Commissions estimate that the British executed, tortured or mutilated 90,000 people during the crackdown, and detained 160,000 in barbed wire camps.

“We don’t know what the Queen knew – what she is told is kept secret, very conveniently – but we do know what her government has done in her name,” said Oliver. “If you are a symbol of a country, you are what you do.

“You cannot say that you are just an icon and have no responsibility for the conduct of the institutions you run,” he added, referring, among many examples, to the role of the Church of England in residential forced assimilation schools in Canada. to the indigenous population.

He continued, “The royal family refused to take into account why so many Commonwealth countries (Barbados) left or consider it (Jamaica, Antigua, Barbuda and Belize).” Instead, they continued to work hard so that they were seen as a mere icon while never putting up with Responsibility for what this icon excuses, all while ignoring calls for genuine apology and reparations to those who have suffered so badly because of what has been done in their name.”

“You don’t have to hate the royal family personally,” he continued. “I mean, Google ‘Prince Philip’s racism’ or ‘Prince Andrew everything’ and see where you land, but you don’t have to hate them. You don’t even have to think that the establishment shouldn’t exist.”

But if it were to go on, he concluded, “it is fair to expect significantly more from them.” For so often they hide behind the comfortable shield of manners and morals that often demand the silence of anyone who might criticize them or what they represent.

Oliver wondered if his segment would be broadcast on Sky TV in the UK, which had previously cut Oliver’s jokes about the Queen during the week following her death. “But if they stop doing it for being disrespectful, they should think seriously about why,” he said. “Why do they and everyone else do their best not to offend a family whose name is stamped in the skin of the people ‘during the slave trade,’ and who sit on top of a heap of stolen wealth wearing crowns adorned with the treasures of other nations.”