Monday, December 17, 2007

We Are Not Amused (By Constitutional Monarchy)

Tomorrow, Sotheby’s is putting up for auction one of the seventeen surviving copies of Magna Carta, the 13th-century document that provided basic rights to English citizens and served as the blueprint for the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights half a millennium later. Originally signed in 1215 by King John, Magna Carta didn’t become cemented into English law until 1297. The copy being auctioned by Sotheby’s was signed in that year by Edward I, better known to history as the bad guy in Braveheart. This pricey piece of political sheepskin is expected to go for $20 to $30 million. I don’t have the wall space for it, but Queen Elizabeth does. And after fifty-five years as a queen exempt from income and capital-gains taxes, she’s certainly got the cash.

If I were her, I’d outbid everyone for Magna Carta…and then revoke it. Yeah, Queen Elizabeth has a sweet life, living off money doled out by Parliament and getting to speak in the third person without ridicule. But no English monarch has held real power since Victoria—and what’s the point of wearing a crown without wielding absolute, unpredictable, crazy power? A revoked Magna Carta restores feudalism, neutralizes Parliament, and turns the Queen from a figurehead into a figure of dread. Personally, I suggest renewing English claim to Brittany, Anjou, Poitou, and Aquitaine. If the ancient wars between England and France taught us anything, it’s that they make for really smashing theatre. Then issue a royal edict that Led Zeppelin must go on tour—watching their recent one-off reunion on DVD with a bag of Cheetos ain’t gonna cut it for hardcore fans. And include in that decree that they have to play their obscure gem, “Poor Tom." I further suggest moving the capital from London to Land’s End in Cornwall. Let’s face it: the soul of English culture is fish & chips—the capital should be seaside, where this delicacy is freshest and most readily available. Fish & chips should also be incorporated into the union jack.

And most importantly, confer a posthumous knighthood on the late, great Benny Hill.

Sotheby’s, this Tuesday, Your Majesty. England is yours for the taking…

(Graphic enhancements courtesy of Dave.)

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