Alex Hilton: Royalty thrives on media circus

The Royal Family this week launched a 'shot across the bows' of the media, demanding their privacy is respected over the Christmas holidays.

Alex Hilton

There were veiled threats of legal action should telephoto lenses intrude on their revelries.

This week also saw the Labour Party deselect a council election candidate for suggesting the Royals were 'vermin' and 'parasites'. The language might be poorly chosen, but are we still in a country where republican sentiments are a bar to public office? I have heard politicians talk about Muslims, immigrants and young people in similar language without losing their positions over it.

So why is the monarchy such a sacred cow? Why does Prince Charles have the power to veto major planning applications, such as the Chelsea Barracks, on a regal whim no more valid than that employed by Louis XVI? The consequences of such interventions are measured in jobs, homes and economic output.

And these consequences exist all year round. If you have no job because a prince has kyboshed a major development, then that affects your Christmas. If you pay taxes to maintain the Royal Family's lifestyle, then you do not get some of that money back because the Royals want some time off.

The Royal Family are a symbol that the people of this country are not sovereign. They are a symbol for young people to limit their ambitions and know their places, that their birth defines their prospects in life. They are a symbol that children cannot aspire to the highest office in a democratic state.

The media have been reminded to respect 'reasonable expectations of privacy'. But surely being royal means they are paid compensation for this? Isn't the loss of private life balanced with the benefit of public position?

The Royals fail to understand the extent to which they need media attention to maintain their existence. In an age where the reality of monarchy is exclusivity, privilege and bigotry, bunting-bedecked nostalgia in the Daily Express and The Sun is the best strategy for securing their future. The monarchy is doomed when the media cease caring enough to send the paparazzi.

Alex Hilton is a Labour parliamentary candidate and founder of political blogs Labourhome and Recess Monkey

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