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It was all a con

By Andrew Klein

I remember that as a teenager we had to sing ‘God save the Queen’. This was done at school, in cinemas and public events. Often this was linked to stories of horrific battles and wars. I was told that it was a good thing to fight for ‘Queen and country’. I really did believe as a child that somehow it was the job of young men to save the Queen and once that was done, whoever was left would save the country. It always involved saving virtuous people from complete bastards. I once asked if the Queen had been involved with less savage projects, building farms or housing estates. Apparently not, she was our Sovereign a very abstract concept that meant that ‘God had anointed’ her and placed her over me to rule me.

I looked up what ‘anointed’ meant and found that involved senior clergy and holy oil. The process of anointed was not included in the films of the coronation. Turned out that the staff had forgotten the recipe for that oil and that new supplies had to be made in a hurry.

Here I was, 12 years old and discovering that my Queen was my ruler by right of birth and a concoction of manmade oils applied by men wearing flowing dresses and that she was attributed with all kinds of magic, least of all the ability to motivate large numbers of young men much like me to go forth and kill large numbers of men just like me and of course the people of her ‘dominion’ and selectively anyone who seriously annoyed her. There were cenotaphs (empty tombs) all over the countryside attesting to what appeared to be divine will.

By the time I was 19, the dream had worn off, in the reality of life it seemed that our Sovereign had little interest in the wellbeing of ordinary folk and that pomp and circumstance, catering for tourists and occasionally foreign wars summed up her imagined role. As a figure head she became more and more irrelevant. Killing foreigners seemed to be more of a state function designed to protect assets and investments, resources. Moral high ground was always found or created to justify what in hindsight was state sanctioned murder. Of course, wars and created chaos are ways of advancing a state’s plans, that is the sad reality.

I met, on my journey through life, many who were once the enemies of my Sovereign and when times were good, we became friends. It’s funny how you can wake up, feel the rising sun and see the blue skies above and then, in an instant, you find your mind’s eye looking at a cenotaph. If we had all been honest at the start, accepting of the fact that there was no more holy oil that created rulers and that all of this was in essence an arrangement by mutual consent, maybe we could have built farms and houses instead of cenotaphs.


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  1. uncletimrob

    My Mum – now deceased – was born in England, so was used the royals being venerated. She used to say of them “the royal family is nothing special, they eat sleep and go to the toilet just like everyone else”.

    On a more personal note, in the 1980’s, my wife to be and I refused to stand up to “god save the queen” at a piano recital at UTas, and were looked at askance by some other attendees. Petty? yes….. satisfying? ….hell yes!

  2. Douglas Pritchard

    I, too have been a victim of the great confidence trick.
    As a babe, I spent time in an air-raid shelter being bombed by the Nazis, the Hun, or the Germans, who i was told was the devil incarnate.
    It tends to colour your perspective when there is so much anger from the “enemy”.
    That situation was brought to a peaceful solution with the help of the Russians, and I recall our family befriending a Russian sea captain involved in transporting oil. Our friends obviously.
    It was only 18 years later I was in Germany, able to converse with the locals, who complemented me on being part of NATO forces protecting them from the Russians. My “nation Service”.
    Monty python could not have written a better script, but behind all this I was a sworn servant of the Queen, with the authority, and the means to kill.
    It was my father who influenced my thinking, explaining early in life, and after his service to the crown, that there are vested interests who benefit from war, and simply be aware of it.

  3. GL

    If they made the Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen” the national anthem I would definitely stand up for that. I’ve considered the royals a bunch of parasites for decades and still don’t see any need to change my views.

    Off to watch The Goodies “Royal Command” episode.

  4. New England Cocky

    The English people may be ”subjects” but in Australia we are ”citizens” and forelock tugging is a long forgotten practice. When the major political parties recognise this fact then maybe we will find there is another referendum to give Australian borne citizens the right to have our own Australian borne Head of State ….. rather than the titular head of the most dysfunctional family in Europe, thankfully half a world away from Australia.

  5. Clakka

    As young river rats, we were respectful of the sun and the darkness, and both begged for and cursed the rain. We shared the homes and sapience of ‘roos, wallabies and wombats, echidnas, platypus, goannas, blue tongues, snakes and all the birds. We sought the sparkle of gold and swam and fished and were glad of the tidbits, whilst at the same time being wary of invaders, like roach, rabbits and blackberries etc. – better to eat them quick so they may be turned to dirt. We shared myths and legends of rogues and bushrangers, and pretended.

    Whilst at school, and Sunday school we were exposed to their vain inculcations of alien bullshit. It deepened our frustration and sadness for the exploitation endured by our forefathers and their loved-ones.

    Then we returned to our reality.

  6. Canguro

    The Achilles’ heel of humanity, as a general (and correct) observation, is our innate willingness to believe the stories presented to us; whether from parents, peers, teachers, authorities or via other means – literature & public media – TV & radio – and this implicit aspect of our psychology has, obviously, both positive and negative consequences. Both children and adults can be influenced for the better or worse, and it’s not that difficult – Joseph Goebbels presciently observed that if you just keep repeating the lies eventually they will be believed. Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, also employed similar methodology in the pursuit of PR spin & propaganda, and these forerunners were the vanguard of the current deluge of misinformation that, as Steve Bannon would say, floods the zone with shit.

    Among the wisest words uttered by one of the wisest teachers to influence humans in the last century was his observation; “Believe nothing unless or until you verify it for yourself”.

    This marching off to war, or doffing your hat before the monarch, or voting for the conservatives because your parents did, or the myriad other examples of mindlessness that one could cite are front and centre in the ongoing tragedy that is the global human experience.

  7. leefe

    I don’t recall ever having to sing or stand for GStQ while at school (1963 to whenever). Some special events it was expected, but not a daily or even weekly occurence at school. Is that just a faulty memory?

  8. Fred

    Leefe: Maybe you have subconsciously deleted those memories, as I do remember singing GStQ in school in 1961. That stopped in high school.

  9. Baby Jewels

    Yes, Fred, so do I, at Primary School. By High School, it was reserved more for Special Assemblies but I do remember it in the Cinemas – how ridiculous is that?? Brainwashing at its finest. John Howard must have loved it. Now, we’re brainwashed by our mainly foreign owned media and I can feel another war coming on….if we don’t put a stop to it. Are we going to stand by and let the US concoct another war, with Australia as their Ukraine? Or are we going to make it loud and clear that we will not?

  10. Fred

    Im so glad to see people waking up to the hypocrisie of the Royal circus,they have done nothing for this country,maybe only managed along with the CIA and MI6 and the Governor General to get rid of Gough Whitlam,you now need to start to look at our new masters the Americans who have taken over this country and our governments,do not be fooled by their lies and propaganda they fully intend to use us as the British did,think twice before you send your children to fight a war for a country that is totally based on greed and corruption,they are not our friends,and your a fool if you ever believe this,don’t let this mistake happen again,do not allow ourselves to become another proxy for America,we need our Sovereignty back

  11. Michael Taylor

    On Kangaroo Island in the 1960s we all had to sing GStQ at school assembly every morning.

  12. Canguro

    In 1963 the royal tour of Australia included a pit stop in Adelaide. I was in my first year of being sent to boarding school after an isolated upbringing in a small country village, and we kids were all herded across the road to what was in those days the Victoria Park racecourse to join what seemed to me to be thousands of other school kids who’d been bussed in to greet Lizzy & Phil the Greek..

    They did the lap of the racetrack in the open top limo, accompanied by the sound of hundreds of cheering kids – a Mexican wave, washing around the track as the procession rolled by. I was totally flummoxed. I knew what was going on, but I couldn’t comprehend why she seemed to garner almost hysterical fervour. Years of accumulated knowledge tempered with historic understanding only served to confirm that initial reluctance to dive into the deep end of mindless group-think and action.

    Not saying she was a bad person, but she certainly was a woman who’d inherited enormous power & privilege along with wealth, much of which was obtained by less than transparent and acceptable means, and she used her privileged position to amass an even greater fortune throughout her reign. Sorry, but not for this little black duck the acceptance of affording the bend your knee acquiescence to these emblematic figureheads who sit astride cultures through no personal merit of their own.

  13. Roswell

    Nobody sings God Save the Queen anymore.

    They stopped singing it, suddenly, a bit over a year ago.

  14. Canguro

    Roswell, nobody sang God Save the Queen quite like the Sex Pistols. One wonders whether Her Maj was suitably impressed by this cavalier expression of British anarchism in 1977?

  15. Florence nee Fedup

    As a young child, attending a one-teacher school, I saluted the flag. Saw no sense in doing so. At 82, I am still of the same opinion.

  16. Clakka

    Couldn’t stand the droll GStQ at primary school; tedious, dull and constraining like a straight jacket. Absolutely love the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen, a masterpiece.

    But then, I’m not enamoured of any national anthem, because I find nationalism repugnant. The root of much evil, just like biased competitive sectarianism.

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