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The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Hitchens

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'Why, when the subject of royalty or monarchy is mentioned, do the British bid adieu to every vestige of proportion, modesty, humour and restraint? '

This is not a call for the monarchy’s abolition by fiat; illusions cannot be abolished. This is an invitation to think.

In this scathing essay, Christopher Hitchens looks at the relationship of the press and the public to the royal family, unpacking the tautology and contradictory arguments that prop it up. In his inimitable style, Hitchens argues that our desire not to profane or disturb the monarchy is a failure of reason and a confusion of reality. Fealty to the magic of monarchy stops us looking objectively at our own history and hinders open-minded criticism of our present. It is time we outgrew it.

With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee upon us, during a time of recession, high unemployment and national debt, Hitchens’ 10,000-word critique is even more relevant today than when it was first published in 1990.

Part of the Brain Shots series, the pre-eminent source for high quality, short-form digital non-fiction.

'Christopher is one of the most terrifying rhetoricians that the world has yet seen.' Martin Amis


This is a proposal for the admission of republican principles into the narrow, national debate. The author examines the Royals as a national fetish that encourages servile attitudes on the one hand - and snobbish ones on the other. Taking care to delineate and discredit certain vulgar and pseudo-republican claims, Hitchins goes on to call for constitutional and political reform that the Royal phenomenon currently impedes.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 797 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 64 Seiten
  • Verlag: Vintage Digital (29. Mai 2012)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B0082BA7H0
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #111.780 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Es gibt noch keine Kundenrezensionen auf
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.1 von 5 Sternen  29 Rezensionen
25 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen great little book 13. August 2000
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Considering it's only 42 pages long, Christopher Hitchens gets a lot done here. He thoroughly trashes the British monarchy by examining five arguments in its favour and striking them down accordingly, not to mention pointing out how some contradict each other. Most impressively, he shows how the common argument that the monarchy lends tone but not interference in politics is pure rubbish, drawing from many examples of British monarchs butting into politics when they didn't need to. He also lampoons the ridiculous number of invented traditions giving legitimacy to the monarchy, including the silly investitures of the Prince of Wales in 1911 and 1969.
Instead, Hitchens argues, Britons should draw upon their own 'solid and honourable republican tradition' - one that was at its height in the mid-nineteenth century - and finally give themselves some permanent political rights (as opposed to merely traditions).
His argument, however short it is, is convincing and a worthy read.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Jolly good read ... with a Hitch. 15. Januar 2013
Von Aureliano B - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I really ... no, really don't care about the British Royals. But I've always enjoyed reading Christopher Hitchens. After his sad demise last year, I decided to read everything I can get my hands on from him, just because he wrote with such passion and style and like the saying goes (sadly) "they're not making any more like this". If you similarly enjoy his kind of writing, then "The Monarchy" will not disappoint. Hitch savages the absurdities that make this anachronism an specially comical peculiarity of the Brits -- yes, Diana gets the royal treatment too; her death was tragic, but she was little more than a vapid serial poser. About time someone said it, only so much better than I.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Growing up 15. Juli 2012
Von Sam Quixote - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Christopher Hitchens invites you to think about the Monarchy in Britain, or the United Kingdom - emphasis on the Kingdom - and ask yourself: do we really need it? Shouldn't we, as modern peoples, abolish it? Why do Britons define themselves with the Monarchy and why does it play such a prominent role, especially today? This is Hitchens' persuasive and interesting essay on why he believes the Monarchy should be abolished and I for one enjoyed it.

Yes, I'm a Republican (though not as Americans define the term) and have long wondered at friends and family who feel so strongly about the Queen and her family. Hitchens' essay reinforces my views but goes far deeper into exploring them than I ever have. He talks about how we rely upon invented tradition and how history is sanitised to favour the Monarchy - that the unsavoury parts are "edited" out when convenience calls (you know, the madness, the murders, the endless wars, slavery, etc.). He claims the Monarchy is a "state-sponsored superstition" that everyone in government must take part in if they are to have a career in politics. I think the BBC is party to this as well, broadcasting pro-Monarchy programmes so that vast numbers of the British population are transformed into supporters of the Queen.

I found it a brilliant read and a thoughtful, well written, and eloquent essay on our "national fetish" (excellent observation). As always Hitchens has produced a work that deserves as wide an audience as possible to provoke much needed discourse in our public sphere. The very fact that this is still a national conversation that needs to be had in the 21st century is astonishing. I'll leave this review with the ending sentences of his essay:

"A people that began to think as citizens rather than subjects might transcend underdevelopment on their own... Only servility requires the realm (suggestive word) of illusion. Illusions, of course, cannot be abolished. But they can and must be outgrown."
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen We are citizens, not subjects, aren't we. Aren't we? 3. Juni 2012
Von Patrick Sherriff - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
As Our Man started this last night and and finished it this afternoon, he couldn't help but think how dated this argument is. Not that anything Hitchens said is not still true, it is, it's just that why are we still having this debate now? Weren't these questions settled in the 18th Century?

Then as Our Man saw on Twitter today on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee, apparently not. The monarchists are out in force with their asinine excuses for servility: well, the monarchy doesn't have any real power; it's not really political, it's harmless, it's a force for good; it's better than an elected president, it's British... STOP.

If you entertain any of those thoughts, please allow Hitchens a few moments of your time to appreciate his eloquence, and accept a chance to set the record straight. Our Man supposes that only the converted will read Hitchens, but he'd like to think a wavering monarchist or two might read this polemic and get up from their knees and join with the 18th Century traditionalists and repeat after Our Man:

We are citizens, not subjects.

Our Man can dream.
4 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Thorough Destruction of Traditional Hereditary Rule 19. Juli 2011
Von Wurm - Veröffentlicht auf
While a long-standing fascination and adoration of the British Royal Family seems to maintain it's standing, the author argues that it is not harmless, nor impotent, nor necessary. This pamphlet is a short but thorough polemic against the ideas of tradition, ceremony, hereditary rule, and religion in government.

This is one of Christopher Hitchens' earlier works, but the writing style and vocabulary leave nothing to be desired, much in the tradition of his latter works. It is witty, well-thought, and inspires the inner desire of absolute freedom. Perhaps the most telling quote from the book comes from Walter Bagehot:

"As long as the human heart is strong and the human reason weak, royalty will be strong because it appeals to diffuse feeling, and republics weak because they appeal to the understanding."

This is the perfect summary for Hitchens' au contraire screed against the Windsor institution. The idea that the British Royalty is solely for purposes of ceremony and tradition is fallacious, as the Royals have always held sway with allies in the various sectors of government. The author gives several examples of this, as the piece is well-researched. Furthermore, the notion that a head of state would also be head of the church reminds this reviewer just how precious the separation of church and state must be, and how absolutely this idea must be protected. While a portion of the British government is nonetheless elected, the marriage of the Queen, the Anglican Church, and the institution of government should be viewed with contempt.

Contempt is exactly what the reader will get whilst enjoying the utter thrashing of Britain's favorite fetish (And America's too!). The author has laughably written before that a land mine is the perfect metaphor for Princess Diana, in that it is easy to lay but difficult and expensive to get rid of. The reader can expect no less in the way of polemic and distaste for the Monarchy, with a laugh thrown in to quell the vitriol that lack of total freedom can inspire.
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