The last week has been described as the worst crisis for the Royal Family since the death of Princess Diana. In an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle revealed that one family member had been concerned about the colour of Archie’s skin and that she had been refused help when she said she was suicidal.

Serious questions are now being asked of the Royal Family, especially in America. But in the UK, support for the Queen seems to be as strong as ever. In fact, it’s the Sussexes popularity that has taken a hit.


So why are Brits sticking by the Royals?

After all, it is not the first time that the family have given the impression that they are cruel and heartless; look no further than their callous response to the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

But the Royal Family seems resilient in a way that few politicians are. Rather bizarrely, people in this country argue that it would be dreadful, just dreadful, to have an elected head of state. The fact that Germany, France, the US, Ireland, Italy and Portugal all have elected heads of state seems of little importance.

Some argue that the Queen and the Royal Family maintain such strong support because they attract tourism. The monarchy is one of Britain’s unique selling points and part of the country’s ‘brand’. But it goes deeper than that.
I think that the British, and particularly the English, like being run by the upper classes. During a by-election in Crewe and Nantwich in 2008, Labour campaigners wore top hats when David Cameron went to the constituency to campaign. They were making the point that the ‘posh’, Eton-educated, Conservative leader had little in common with the working class. In the end, Labour lost the by-election, with a sixteen per cent swing to the Tories. This would suggest that the ‘but-he’s-a-toff’ attacks did not have quite the impact that the Left had hoped for. And it might have escaped their attention, but our current Prime Minister was educated at — wait for it — Eton! Yet he largely has working-class, ‘red wall’ constituencies in the North and Midlands to thank for his premiership.

The English mentality

A common Labour attack line against the Tories is that the ‘toffs’ in the Party don’t understand what ‘ordinary’ people have to deal with. But I think this fails to understand how much of England thinks.

During the Labour leadership election at the beginning of last year, Channel 4 ran a focus group of ‘red wall’ voters. One of the participants said something about Jess Phillips that struck me. He said she came across as ‘too working class’. This man was himself, of course, working class. The point is that many English voters have a very particular idea of what a leader ‘looks like’ — preferably someone from the upper or upper-middle class, with no regional accent.

This peculiarly English reverence was captured perfectly by Kazuo Ishiguro in The Remains of the Day. This novel is told from the point of view of an English butler (Stevens) in the 1930s, just before the outbreak of World War Two. Stevens serves Lord Darlington at Darlington Hall. Darlington becomes a Nazi sympathiser and tries to make a peace deal between Britain and Germany. But even when Darlington hosts conferences between diplomats, with the aim of appeasing Nazi Germany, Stevens never once questions the integrity of his master. He is loyal to a fault. In fact, when Lord Darlington orders him to sack two Jewish girls, he obliges. Stevens says ‘… when you think of a great butler, he is bound, almost by definition, to be an Englishman’. The character of Stevens clearly sees reverence for those of a higher social class as a virtue. Others might see it as rather bizarre. Either way, I think this reflects how parts of England think today. After all, why else do we still subsidise an unelected Royal Family and consistently elect prime ministers who were educated at elite schools?

But the Left still do not seem to understand this. Recently, the Labour Party released a video attacking Rishi Sunak for his ‘lavish celebrity lifestyle’. I guess we are saddled with public-school-educated Conservatives for the foreseeable future. That’s democracy for you.