Saturday, December 9, 2023

Quote of the Day (Max Beerbohm, Hoping to ‘Lighten the Yoke’ on Royalty)

“Gaiety, wit, beauty, some measure even of splendour, may be compassed in the salons of a republic; but distinction comes not in save with one who must be received at the foot of the staircase. In fact, royalty is indispensable; we cannot spare it. But, you may well ask, are we justified in preserving an institution which ruins the lives and saps the human nature of a whole family? What of those royal victims whom we sacrifice to our expediency? I have suggested that royal functions could be quite satisfactorily performed by automata made of wax. There, I think, lies the solution of our difficulty. Perhaps, even now, did we but know, it is the triumphs of Tussaud at whose frequent sight our pulses beat with so quick an enthusiasm. If it is so, I do not blame our royal family for its innocent subterfuge. I should welcome any device that lightens the yoke that is on their necks. I should be glad if more people would seriously examine the conditions of royalty, with a view to ameliorating the royal lot.”—British essayist-critic-caricaturist Max Beerbohm (1872-1956), “Some Words on Royalty,” in The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm, edited by Phillip Lopate (2015)

I have been a lifelong anti-royalist. But I couldn’t help chuckling at the wry wit of the great essayist nicknamed “The Incomparable Max.”

Over the last three decades or so, the British royals have certainly taken their lumps in the court of public opinion. His puckish “solution” to their dilemma would certainly home in handy these days.

You can imagine my excitement, then, when I saw the image accompanying this post. It shows some members of the British Royal Family (notably, the late Queen Elizabeth II) at Madame Tussauds, London, July 17, 2019, and was taken by Schweiz41.

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