Because Queen Elizabeth is 92 years old, and because her son Charles is already 70, England will most likely have a new septuagenarian monarch right as the old one shuffles off. That sucks for him, but it rules for his son, who’s going to be king for a normal amount of time. The queen doesn’t really get to do anything, and her heirs won’t either, but they thrive as the mascots of England, while sometimes accidentally inventing punk rock. It’s not a bad life.
The older grandson will be king; the other one, not the one who gets to be king, merely gets to be hot. For a time, the Hot Prince was a “wild child,” which in royal parlance means he got caught drinking and smoking weed and had to go to rehab. He cleaned up his act and did a bunch of boring stuff while getting slightly less hot, and the world sort of forgot that he was a thing. But then, he got married to Meghan Markle, one of the stars of the USA Network show Suits. While people don’t care about Suits, and the Hot Prince will never get to be the Hot King, their wedding seemed like a nice excuse to have a big to-do and put it on TV.
I did not technically watch the Royal Wedding, which is not something you admit in an essay about the Royal Wedding. However, I did watch the entire thing on Twitter, which was even better. The gist, according to the Royal Wedding Twitter Commentariat, seemed to be both that it was very fun to watch two good-looking rich people get married, and also that it was fucked up that we live in a world where kings and queens and their ilk are real.
This is true, inasmuch as we’re forced to read meaning into their opaque statements about catastrophic world events, and think about their relationship with their dads, and catch up on Suits. But if they weren’t allowed to be in charge of anything? Really: anything? Well, then it might be good.
Not to go all galaxy brain on you, but more anarchists should be monarchists. If you want to live in a voluntary society based on free will and equality, having just a single person serving as some sort of figurehead whose only job it would be to go on TV and make people happy while not actually doing anything seems kind of nice. My ideal king would be a dog. For example, this one, whose name is Reese, and who I’m currently dog-sitting.
There is actually is vague precedent for having a dog for a king. In Norse mythology, a guy named King Eynstein the Bad sent a dog named Saur to rule over the recently conquered territory of Throndhjem as punishment for murdering their previous king, who just so happened to be Eynstein the Bad’s son. Instead of a crown, Saur got a golden collar and leash, and he ruled his kingdom with an iron paw from atop a doggie-sized throne. Sadly, King Saur the Dog King died while valiantly defending his territory from a pack of wolves. But the point of the story, I’m pretty sure, is that kings don’t really do anything so there’s no point in them. On the other hand, if kings don’t really do anything, would having one really be that bad?
In Britain, the nobility seem to serve as a group of default famous people. If I had to guess, the British public doesn’t really care that Nicholas Knatchbull, the 36-year-old former drug addict/current actually not that bad ambient electronic musician, is the godson of Prince Charles, they care that he’s a rich idiot covered in tattoos who whose entire life goal seems to be an extra in a Trainspotting sequel about chavs in recovery. There will always be a subgenre of the media that breathlessly covers privileged fuckups who get addicted to weird drugs and develop unfortunate music careers seemingly to spite their parents, and the knowledge that these people will always be able to go to rehab and live out their days riding horses on some country estate makes all schadenfreude-fueled coverage seem a hair less cruel.
Sometimes, they do other stuff besides embarrass their families. For example, Drummond Money-Coutts, the amazingly named star of the new Netflix show Death by Magic, is a minor noble who decided to become a world-class magician for some reason. But otherwise, you don't really have to do anything. If your family’s coffers are feeling a bit light, there are a bunch of ways to exploit your social station for fun and profit, most of which involve selling your extraneous noble titles for a quick buck or using your family’s large tracts of land to justify getting a generous handout from the British government. Is it “fair” that these rich people are subsidized by taxpayers to do nothing? Of course not, but nothing is.
Prince Harry might be a sentient set of cheekbones dragging a trail of scandalous headlines behind him for perpetuity, but I watched his wedding with Meghan Markle play out secondhand, each controversy sublimated into an integral plot point in a state-sanctioned reality show called Hot Prince, as important to Britain’s culture as The Bachelor is to ours.
And besides, anyone who doesn’t think America has royal families at least sort of a little bit is kidding themselves. America is an oligarchy in democracy’s clothing; the reason we declared independence from the British wasn’t to make everyone equal, but so that a handful of rich families could take turns being in charge of America. While the actual families have cycled in and out throughout the years — most normal people are not turning to the newest scion of the Rockefeller family to fix America for us, after all — we tend to think in terms of political dynasties nonetheless. Think about Chelsea Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Joe Kennedy III, all of whom have been floated by the pundit class as people who might want to think about running for President in 2020, despite their lack of experience and seeming disinterest in the job.
On the lower end of the nobility tier, America has a never-ending cadre of influencers who hawk tooth-whitening laser beams on Instagram. These people are either famous because they are the beautiful dirtbag children of people who became famous for doing an actually significant thing, or they are zombie-celebrities who once did cool stuff but now just exist in a liminal state between fame and unremarkability. Whether they are Donald Trump Jr. conspicuously shouting out gun brands and fly fishing outfitters on Instagram, or Rookie Magazine founder Tavi Gevinson accepting a sponsorship to live in an apartment complex, or any of the terribly beautiful, beautifully terrible members of Vanderpump Rules, our culture is full of people who make money by simply being themselves. If the logical end of this symbiotically capitalist cycle is a pair of Post Malone-branded Crocs that are currently selling for $800 on eBay, I would probably trade them all for Drummond Money-Coutts.
No matter whether we toil under the branded aristocracy or the noblesse, however, it remains true that celebrity and spectacle will absolve you of your sins. Prince Harry might be a sentient set of cheekbones dragging a trail of scandalous headlines behind him for perpetuity, but I watched his wedding with Meghan Markle play out secondhand, each controversy sublimated into an integral plot point in a state-sanctioned reality show called Hot Prince, as important to Britain’s culture as The Bachelor is to ours. Given that he will never become king, this world spectacle might have been the most important thing Prince Harry will ever do in his life, but simply by dint of his birth and cheekbones, he fulfilled his duty admirably.
It is deeply insane, if you think about it, but if you think a little more about it, it's kind of fitting for our times. The only logical next step is to patiently await the anointing of our glorious Dog King, who will surely lead us into a new era of prosperity and grace.