Flat White

Kate and Will’s fabulous Caribbean journey?

30 March 2022

12:00 PM

30 March 2022

12:00 PM

Well, Kate and Will’s ‘Horrible Caribbean Journey’ is at an end and I now have a chest full of newspaper cut-outs to add to my Royal holiday souvenir file that will permanently remind me of every facet of their fun.

I was particularly impressed by the number of outfits that Kate took along on her voyage, and my respect for the entourage who carried the bags multiplied proportionately.

I was also impressed by the depths to which journalists were prepared to stoop in order to gush over Kate’s outfits. While the English press do it so much better than anyone else, even Australia’s republican gallery was happy to bend the knee and neck to kiss the ground on which she walked.

‘£35,000 (A$62,000) Caribbean Wardrobe,’ reported Harriet Johnston for the Daily Mail, complete with a daily (no pun intended) itemised price list of clothing and accessories worn; and multiple photographs. It was a newspaper publisher’s dream; a beautiful, smiling woman, an unlimited budget, and an opportunity to wear them all.

Unfortunately, we were often reminded that not everyone thought the tour piffing good fun; Jan Moir for that same Daily Mail was happy to oblige. Despite defining herself as ‘a royalist like me’, Jan saw only bad things coming from the tour, which she was – with impeccable women’s logic – able to blame on heightened Caribbean sensitivities ‘over matters of republicanism, slavery, and the possibility of reparations’.

No doubt you will have read that some people from that Caribbean paradise protested the arrival of these British colonialists – whom they equated with the 18th century British slave holders. The current citizens of the Caribbean are overwhelmingly descendants of that horrible trade in humanity; but we need to recall that the British slave trade was ended in 1831, with the last slaves liberated by 1834. Most of them were settled in the Caribbean and have built that tropical wonder into a haven of happiness for the wealthy.

Despite her professed royalist sentiments, Jan Moir’s feminist baggage could not be hidden and she revealed that she thought the Will and Kate tour was an outdated instrument of colonialism: ‘William in the tropical dress of his old regiment, trundling around a field in a jeep with his medals on his chest, his wife in a hat by his side and a ceremonial sword in his hand.’

The rest of Moir’s article is a grovelling appeal to her left-wing readers, a mea culpa on behalf of the royal family whom she considered too blind, too privileged, and too arrogant to give personally. But I would like to counter Ms Moir’s tragic and depressing story by suggesting that, like most journalists, she has a very narrow, morning-TV opinion about the concepts of which she speaks.

Imagine, if you can, living in a nation that is ruled by a government of one man or woman and their relatives and friends. You are not a citizen because you do not and are excluded from sharing in the powers of government. You are not a citizen because you do not have any right to elect or choose representatives who will form the government. That was Great Britain before the 19th century electoral Reform Acts. Sure, some people did have the vote; and to ensure the result, the propertied class had the right to vote multiple times.

However, until the 1832 Reform Act, the vast majority of His Majesty’s subjects had no political rights at all and even that increase was small fry until the proper reform of 1867. Men women and children were obliged to work sun-up to sun-down by sheer economic necessity that we call poverty. Let’s call those people, all of whom were white, slaves to necessity.

Every time a government made foolish economic decisions – always referred to as ‘recessions we had to have’ – the slaves of necessity lost their jobs, their houses, their businesses, and any independence they might have had.

Kate and Will’s wonderful Caribbean journey was never about colonialism. It was all about rekindling Caribbean allegiance to an idea of civilisation for which, despite its undemocratic roots, the United Kingdom is noted. People might refer to Edmund Burke, but the great democratic movement that swept America and then Britain and Europe owes everything to the English philosopher, John Locke.

A scene in the Monty Python movie Life of Brian captures the irony of British journalism’s self-loathing when a Palestinian revolutionary asks, ‘What did the Romans ever do for us?’

It is a question answered in so many ways without altering revolutionary opinions.

Jan Moir and her band of Fleet Street revolutionaries need to spend more time reflecting on the sources of the political wisdom that came in response to those horrible moments over which she languishes, but which brought us to where we are. It is not because of those horrible moments that we are now happier, but in spite of them.


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