yohn Oliver went nuts over the British monarchy on Last Week Tonight, as the royal family is ‘in transition’ after The death of Queen Elizabeth II At the age of 96 in September. “In the UK, the argument has been that in the aftermath of the Queen’s death, this is not the time to criticize her or the monarchy in general. It would be impolite,” Oliver explained. “But two months have passed since then, and Charles is now the king.”
Oliver argued that while for many, the Queen’s charm lay in her longevity and her “tendency toward silence — she didn’t really know what she thought of anything”, none of these things applied to her son.
Charles acceded to the throne at the age of 73 after a life in the spotlight, a messy divorce and several public gaffes. “He does not enjoy his mother’s obscurity, or enjoy a level of public affection, and his ascension to the throne comes at a time when the UK is facing a cost-of-living crisis,” Oliver explained.
Which led him to question what the monarchy was for, both for the United Kingdom and for countries around the world that the monarch still represents.
He explained that the king’s job is to be the head of state, which is a symbolic position charged with receiving ambassadors and heads of state arriving and departing, and carrying out official visits abroad. “Think of the royals as Mickey and Minnie at Disneyland — they don’t run the rides, but they are the mascot of the whole operation, and people love having their picture taken with them,” Oliver said.
Defenders of the monarchy will say that the ceremonial aspect is the point; The royal family’s website describes the monarch as “a focus of national identity, unity and pride” which “gives a sense of stability and continuity”.
“But this comes at a price,” Oliver said, referring to the 100 million pounds ($117 million) that British taxpayers pay each year in Sovereign Grant to support the royal family. Oliver pointed out the “asterisks” on the Sovereign Grant, as the royal family has other sources of income: private fortune whose details are a closely guarded secret, and the dukedom of Lancaster, a huge estate portfolio containing lands seized by the monarchy in the 13th century. century. (The purse paid the Queen $27 million in the year before her death.) There’s also the Duchy of Cornwall, another billion-dollar estate portfolio now in Prince William’s hands, which brought in $26 million last year.
“The wealth of the royal family, unlike their genes, is enormous,” Oliver said. The two duchesses are exempt from corporate taxes, and Charles pays no inheritance taxes, “and when you put all that into play, you’re sure to feel like they cost a hell of a lot more than a pound per person,” Oliver said.
Oliver has been vocal about his feelings for the royal family: “They are like the human appendix. We evolved long ago in need of it and there is a compelling reason to surgically remove it.” But he conceded that he is in the minority for the British people, with 67% of the opinion that the monarchy should remain.
But their role abroad is a more open question. Oliver succinctly summarized the royal family’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, established by royal charter. He said: “I understand that people should not be held personally responsible for what their ancestors did, but trying to talk about the British role in the slave trade without talking about the monarchy is kind of like trying to talk about Jeffrey Epstein without talking about the monarchy. They are inextricably linked, but they are They may find this fact uncomfortable.”
He also reminded viewers of “one of the most atrocious acts ever committed by the British”: a crush Mau Mau Rebellion by the Kikuyu people of Kenya, which is what happened in the early years of Elizabeth’s reign. Kenyan human rights commissions estimate that the British executed, tortured or mutilated 90,000 people during the crackdown, and detained 160,000 in barbed wire camps.
“We don’t know what the Queen knew – what she is briefed on is kept secret, very conveniently – but we do know what her government did in her name,” Oliver said. “If you are a symbol of a country, you represent what you do.
He added, “You cannot say that you are merely a symbol and bear no responsibility for the conduct of the institutions you run,” referring, among many examples, to the role of the Church of England in residential forced assimilation schools in Canada. for indigenous people.
He continued, “The royal family has refused to take into account or consider why so many Commonwealth countries left (Barbados) (Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda and Belize).” Instead, they continued to work hard to be seen as a mere symbol while they never put up. Responsibility for what is excused from this code, all while ignoring calls for a genuine apology and reparations for those who have suffered so deeply because of what has been done in their name.”
“You don’t have to hate the royal family personally,” he continued. “I mean, Google ‘Prince Philip’s racism’ or ‘Prince Andrew’s everything’ and see where you land, but you don’t have to hate them. You don’t even have to think that the establishment shouldn’t exist.
He concluded, “But if it is to go on, it is only fair to expect significantly more from them.” For they often hide behind the comforting shield of politeness and morality that often requires the silence of anyone who might criticize them or what they stand for.
Oliver wondered if his segment would be broadcast on Sky TV in the UK, which had previously cut Oliver’s jokes about the Queen during the week after her death. “But if they stop it for being disrespectful,” he said, “they need to think seriously about why.” “Why do they and everyone else do their best not to offend a family whose name has been branded into the skin of the people ‘during the slave trade’ and who sits atop a heap of stolen wealth wearing crowns adorned with the treasures of other nations.”