Performativity is rife in the royal family, says writer Urooj Chaudhary.
Queen Elizabeth II is set to celebrate 70 years of her reign on the throne and is to distribute special medals to commemorate this occasion in June 2022. As part of the Jubilee, about 400,000 medals are to be given out to frontline workers such as the Armed Forces and Emergency services. Amongst this, several medals will be awarded to royals to commemorate them for fulfilling their royal duties. One of the royals set to receive this honorable medal is Prince Andrew, the second son of the Queen, who has recently been served with a civil lawsuit against allegations of sexual assault. Yes, you read that correctly. Prince Andrew, who has stepped down from royal duties for the past two years, is to receive a medal to recognise his service. Does this make sense? In what way does he deserve this medal?
Over the past two years the prince has been in the news with regards to his association with Epstein, causing him to be asked to step back from his royal duties for the foreseeable future; this is still the case today. More recently, he has been seen in the media due to the lawsuit brought forward by Virginia Roberts Giuffre. The sexual assault allegations are something of which the Duke of York himself has denied on several occasions, although I think his denial seems suspicious. While re-watching Prince Andrew’s interview from August 2021, I found myself thinking that his statements seem to be full of obvious lies, leading me to believe he is guilty of the allegations against him. However, my focus here is not about whether or not Prince Andrew is guilty, but instead to consider the responsibility the Royal Family has.
It was recently revealed that the Queen herself is actively involved in Prince Andrew’s sexual assault case as she has agreed to privately fund his lawsuit defence. Not only is she paying millions out of a private estate but has stated that it is a necessity for Buckingham Palace to fund the Duke as he is “thought not to have a discernible income”. Many would see this act as simply a concerned mother helping, but I argue that this is also a way for the Queen to exert her power to help diminish this case. This situation seems like a great exercise of privilege, showing yet again how the Royal Family are not held responsible for their actions.
Considering his behaviour, does Prince Andrew deserve an award? Does he fit the description of those who should receive the Platinum Jubilee award? Let’s consider how an average person from society would be treated if they had similar allegations against them. This would not only impact their reputation, but also affect them significantly with regards to their employment; it would be very unlikely that they would be given an “employee of the month” award. Consequently, it doesn’t seem appropriate to award a medal to a member of the royal family who has not fulfilled any royal duties for the past two years, and who has damaged the reputation of the country he represents. I can’t help but ask: what does this award say about the Monarchy itself? Thousands of people online argue this award to be purely commemorative and not based upon service. The fact that they are willing to award this medal to a person who has done nothing beneficial for the United Kingdom clearly shows the lack of responsibility the royal family is held to. This really makes me question the character and purpose of the Royal Family. Are they simply just a show of power?
The reputation of the royal family has tarnished due to these several incidents, strengthening the case for abolishing the monarchy altogether. They are simply just there to shake hands and invite over high-class individuals for tea. They do not care about how the citizens of their country feel or consider the unfairness behind their actions. Awarding Prince Andrew with this medal is beyond inappropriate, and the backlash received online accurately represents the fury felt by citizens within the United Kingdom.
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