'The Monarchy' by Christopher Hitchens (1990)

The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish - Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish (London: Chatto & Windus, 1990), 42pp [electronic copy]


A short, sharp read by the master polemicist Christopher Hitchens. It is not quite as hard-hitting and comprehensive as I would have liked, but Hitch is always refreshing to read. It's a shame he didn't write a full-length book on the topic, but in a sense he did: his problem with monarchy is similar to his problems with religion (tawdry mysticism, illusion/delusion, retards social growth, etc.), which he has discussed at length. His argument revolves largely around the constitutional poverty enabled by the British monarchy, noting its obstruction and retardation of national social maturity. But he also has time to pour his measured scorn on the fetishism (his phrase, and an apt one) of the monarchy by the British people and the media. It is actually rather depressing that the issues Hitchens identified and railed against when writing this in 1990 are still just as relevant in 2013, and perhaps have even intensified. With the royal wedding and the birth of Prince George... the sycophancy is all but unbearable. In fact, on the day that I read this book the front-page story (the front page) in The Sun tabloid was that Kate Middleton - 'Princess Kate' as she is nauseatingly (and erroneously) dubbed - has a flat stomach months after giving birth. That's the entire story. The front page.