Plaid V Royals – Turn Up For the Fight

The Royals are back in town again, next week at least, and already the ranks of Plaid Cymru are lining up to put forward, very vocally, their intended absence from the so called ‘state’ opening of the Senedd. There is a slightly desperate feel to the protest, making sure to shout loud enough so that everyone is aware that they will not be in attendance and that everyone knows why. It almost smacks of a feeling that should Plaid representatives not shout about their absence, then very few people will take notice. Boycotting the Queen just doesn’t hold that much political oomph these days, and is slightly sad that an issue is being made out of it again. After all, in terms of royal popularity, this is probably as bad a time as ever for Plaid to be bleating about republics and abolishment. Following the almost unimaginable success of the Queen’s visit to Ireland, and the hoopla of the Royal wedding, the royal family have probably not had it so good in terms of public relations, for a very long time.

Having said that, I would like to make my views on the subject clear, I am not a royalist, I have no particular allegiance to the English crown (for English it is), nor am I in any particular mood to bark for its survival and continued funding. However, I like to think I am also a pragmatist, and realise that the royals have a certain popularity with many who call themselves British, they also have an unequalled ability to raise a nations profile, and have a significant impact in terms of tourism driven economies. Now none of this should be seen as a justification for their continued ‘rule’ over Wales, just a recognition of the practical benefits that can be derived from this obscure remnant of the pre World War era.

I for one would though be happy to say that the royal family are not Welsh, have no tangible connection to the country, and should not be recognised as having any sovereignty over the land. But let’s be practical about it. Do we really address the issue by hiding away from ‘state’ openings? After all, what kind of message does that send to those outside Wales? That the second a member of the royal family steps into ‘our’ Assembly chamber, we run for the hills? This is what Plaid must remember, the Assembly, Senedd, Welsh Government, whatever we are calling it these days, is ours, the property and product of Wales. Plaid does that sentiment an injustice by cowering away from the presence of a visiting dignitary. At the ‘state’ opening, you have an opportunity, a platform on which you can project you opinions to the world; say what you like about the royal family but they bring, the Queen in particular, profile, something Wales could dearly do with tapping into.

And if we are to be stuck with the Royal family (which so long as prominent republicans think that by not turning up to functions will achieve anything, is the way it will remain), why do we not confront this ‘institution’ to do more for this country, to warrant the tax payers surplus, to promote the nation as if they were monarchs or it (there would be a refreshing change, as opposed to the occasional drop in to check on the manorial lands)? It’s time for Plaid to grow up and face this issue head on, demand more of them, or demand they go, but do it by facing the issue, not by shying away. You achieve nothing by leaving the chamber empty of your presence, empty of a Plaid and a Welsh Nationalist presence, surrendering our democracy with such ease for a headline none shall read.

Turn up next week, and do your duty. Show the royal family that Plaid is here, the Assembly is Wales’, and if that they are not to be made welcome, tell it to their faces!

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