If every single high-profile journalist, politician and priest is currently expressing heartfelt devotion to Britain’s deceased, 96-year-old monarch, it is not because she ‘served’ her country diligently in doing her ‘duty’ for 70 years. The powerful interests that determine Britain’s political and media agenda are not sentimentalists; they do not impose ‘managed democracy’ as a kind of game. Propaganda blitzes are always pragmatic.
It could hardly be more obvious that earlier propaganda campaigns defining the Iraq war, the Libya war, the Syria war, Jeremy Corbyn, and now NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine, were shaped to serve those same interests.
It is no accident that damning claims – many of them simply fabricated – relentlessly target enemies of state from the front pages of every newspaper, from every TV and touch screen. And it is no accident that corporate editors and journalists are united now in expressing deep affection for the late Queen. When everyone clearly feels obliged to say the same thing, it means they are deferring to a key requirement of elite control.
This latest blitz should be no surprise, because wherever there is royalty, there is militarism, organised religion, bipartisan political agreement, patriotism and, of course, concentrated wealth. After all, as Peter Oborne reminded his readers, the Queen was ‘head of state; head of the Anglican Church; head of the judiciary; head of the armed forces, head of the Commonwealth; and ultimate fount of honour in the British state’.
All of these roles rest on a series of interlinked, mutually supportive deceptions. The monarchy roots autocratic rule in esoteric ‘tradition’ which, lost in the mists of time, presents elite control as ‘the natural order of things’. Organised religion extends the same illusion to a cosmic King sanctifying His earthly representatives who thus rule by ‘divine right’. Military power, swathed in the same esoterica, protects this system in the name, not just of the monarch, but of God. Who would dare challenge the will, not just of the King, but of God Himself?
As Harold Pinter liked to say, these deceptions are almost ‘witty’ in their audacity.
The new king said of his mother:
‘She set an example of selfless duty which, with God’s help and your counsels, I am resolved faithfully to follow.’
The ideal, endlessly repeated, is not to discover Truth, Happiness and Freedom for ourselves as creative, free-thinking individuals. Rather, it is to reject our personal needs and interests – rejected as ‘narrow’ and ‘selfish’ – to focus on ‘service’, on performing a ‘duty’ pre-defined for us by the mumbo-jumbo of patriotic ‘tradition’. Tolstoy captured his moment and ours exactly:
‘All these people do what they are doing unconsciously, because they must, all their life being founded upon deceit, and because they know not how to do anything else… Moreover, being all linked together, they approve and justify one another’s acts – emperors and kings those of the soldiers, functionaries, and clergymen; and soldiers, functionaries and clergymen the acts of emperors and kings, while the populace, and especially the town populace, seeing nothing comprehensible in what is done by all these men, unwittingly ascribe to them a special, almost a supernatural, significance.’ 1
Thus, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said:
‘Her Majesty showed us that when we build our lives on God’s faithfulness, we are on the solid ground of eternity that cannot be shaken.’
There is indeed nothing comprehensible here. Alas, human folly is such that many of us find these comments all the more impressive for that reason – we are surely in the presence of truth so profound that it escapes our feeble understanding.
‘The Moment History Stops’
It is ironic indeed that a classic feature of the Western propaganda system involves depicting citizens of Official Enemies as having succumbed to a Cult of Personality. We, in the West, are encouraged to scoff at those poor lost souls who glorify leaders with hagiographic portraits and statues; and militarised patriotic festivals and grand commemorative events.
These countries are identified as belonging to their respective heads of state. It’s ‘Putin’s Russia’, ‘Xi Jinping’s China’, ‘Kim Jong-un’s North Korea’, ‘Gaddafi’s Libya’, ‘Saddam’s Iraq’.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September was a salient reminder that ‘our’ propaganda system is a vital cog in the British social machine that upholds elite privilege and domination over the majority of the population.
BBC News runs continuous live-streams on its channels, its website is draped in black, featuring ‘news’ stories with titles such as:
- ‘Nation mourns Queen with flowers, gun salutes and address from new King’
- ‘Obituary: a long life marked with a sense of duty’
- ‘Queen Elizabeth II: World leaders remember a “kind-hearted Queen”’
There was even a BBC News piece titled ‘Death of Queen Elizabeth II: The moment history stops’. The power of the British monarchy is such that history itself stops!
‘Royal correspondent’ Jonny Dymond gushed:
‘This is the moment history stops; for a minute, an hour, for a day or a week; this is the moment history stops.
‘Across a life and reign, two moments from two very different eras illuminate the thread that bound the many decades together. At each a chair, a desk, a microphone, a speech. In each, that high-pitched voice, those clipped precise vowels, that slight hesitation about public speaking that would never quite seem to leave her.’
The BBC purple prose continued:
‘One moment is sun-dappled, though the British people were suffering through a terrible post-war winter. A young woman, barely more than a girl really, sits straight-backed, her dark hair pulled up, two strings of pearls around her neck. Her youthful skin is flawless, she is very beautiful. A life opens out ahead of her.’
Newspapers ran full, front-page portraits with forelock-tugging headlines:
- ‘A life in service’ (The Times)
- ‘Our hearts are broken’ (Daily Mail)
- ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’ (Daily Telegraph)
- ‘Thank you’ (Daily Mirror’)
- ‘Our beloved Queen is dead’ (Daily Express)
- ‘We loved you Ma’am’ (The Sun)
The Sun’s headline adorned one of the most brutal, cynical, loveless, soulless gutter tabloids on the market. Does The Sun have any idea what the word ‘love’ means?
As for the Telegraph’s declaration, ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’; this is a paper that reflexively supports every blood-drenched Western war going, that waged merciless propaganda war on Corbyn, incinerated Assange, and mocked the climate crisis threatening all humanity for decades. But their hearts are full of love for the icon of unlimited wealth.
Anyone still harbouring illusions that the Guardian might offer a modicum of republican scepticism would have been disabused by the acres of royal-friendly coverage on display. The day after her death, the print edition of the paper led with fully 19 pages on the Queen plus a 20-page supplement. By painful contrast, a news piece titled, ‘World on brink of five “disastrous” climate tipping points – study’, was buried on page 25. The following day, the Guardian published a 40-page special supplement on the Queen. That paired example captures exactly the imposed insanity of the ‘mainstream’ media that are leading us to disaster.
High-profile Guardian columnist, Gaby Hinsliff, wrote a piece packed with references to ‘grandmotherly manner’, ‘female power’, ‘rare trick for a woman’, ‘a woman in charge’, ‘“ultimate feminist”’, ‘a legacy for women’, ‘ultimate matriarch’, ‘Matriarchal power’, and so on.
We tweeted in response:
‘Ok, ok, gender matters! But so does medieval authoritarianism, militant patriotism and 0.1% control.’
As we noted, Hinsliff’s dismal piece garnered 12 retweets and 71 likes in the first 16 hours. Six days since publication, the tally stands at just 14 retweets and 72 likes.
As for the Labour party, any hint of republican sentiment has long been well and truly expunged from statements issuing from its corporate HQ. Sir Keir Starmer, Knight Commander of the Order of Bath and the Leader of the ‘Opposition’, declared:
‘For seventy years, Queen Elizabeth II stood as the head of our country. But in spirit, she stood amongst us.’
Party managers have clearly been working hard on Keir’s ‘compassionate’ facial expression, but his delivery is still devoid of genuine human feeling. He continued in his now trademark robotic delivery:
‘Queen Elizabeth II created a special, personal relationship with us all. A relationship based on service and devotion to her country.’
This is the standard narrative being rammed down the throats of the British, indeed global, audience.
‘And as the world changed around her, this dedication became the still point of our turning world.’
Our world revolved around the Queen? Really?
In glaring contrast to the obsequious royalist coverage elsewhere, the Morning Star’s front page ran with:
‘Truss’s energy boon – for the fuel fat cats’
‘The fact that every single newspaper and broadcaster in the country is united in waving though the accession of an unelected head of state makes the “no one tells us what to write” stuff all the more embarrassing.’
The Unquestioned Institution Of The Monarchy
Former diplomat Craig Murray also highlighted the absurdity of the notion of media ‘impartiality’ when press and broadcasting are so blatantly pro-monarchy:
‘Think seriously on this. 29% of the population want to abolish the monarchy. Think of all the BBC coverage of the monarchy you have seen over the last decade. What percentage do you estimate reflected or gave an airing to republican views? Less than 1%?’
‘Now think of media coverage across all the broadcast and print media.
‘How often has the media reflected the republican viewpoint of a third of the population? Far, far less than a third of the time. Closer to 0% than 1%. Yes, there are bits of the media that dislike Meghan for being black or are willing to go after Andrew. But the institution of the monarchy itself?’
‘There can be no clearer example than the monarchy of the unrelenting media propaganda by which the Establishment maintains its grip.
‘The corporate and state media are unanimous in slavish support of monarchy. Thailand has vicious laws protecting its monarchy. We don’t need them; we have the ownership of state and corporate media enforcing the same.’
In 2015, author Irvine Welsh observed that:
‘The UK is now a pointless entity, existing solely to protect entrenched privilege and continue the transference of the country’s resources to a global elite.’
The Queen sat atop this unjust system of extreme inequality, just as her eldest son, King Charles, does now. She was the figurehead of an unhealthy and divided British society, corrupted by hereditary wealth, degraded by the racist and exploitative legacy of Empire, and scarred by a highly-stratified class structure in which most people are struggling to obtain a decent standard of living.
Journalist and political analyst Jonathan Cook encouraged the public to scrutinise the media’s subservient behaviour:
‘Please take this moment to study, really study, the journalists working for the BBC, ITV and Ch4. Do they seem like fearless, independent, objective observers of the world, or more like fawning courtiers? This is the moment when the mask slips. Drink it in deeply…’
Australian political analyst Caitlin Johnstone observed:
‘British media are even more servile and sycophantic than American or Australian media, which is truly an impressive feat.’
And, indeed, live coverage in particular was, at times, hugely revealing of the mindset and priorities of these ‘fearless’ journalists. Shortly before the Queen’s death, BBC News presenter Clive Myrie declared that the crisis in rising energy costs ‘is, of course, insignificant now’ given ‘the gravity of the situation’ regarding the Queen’s health. Even Myrie’s colleague, Damian Grammaticus, reporting live from Buckingham Palace, felt compelled to respond:
‘Well, certainly overshadowed, Clive’.
Anna Soubry, former Tory minister, revealed a similarly bizarre mindset as Myrie when she tweeted:
‘Everything pales into insignificance as our thoughts and best wishes are with Her Majesty the Queen and her family.’
Everything? Climate breakdown? Rising energy and food bills? Poverty? War?
This is a form of fanaticism that would be ridiculed in the West if it had come from a former member of government in Russia, China or North Korea.
The Forgotten History Under The Royal ‘Legacy’
There have been reams of cringing rhetoric about the Queen’s ‘legacy’ after seven decades of reigning the UK and the Commonwealth. The deeply-scrubbed and sanitised version of history was highly revealing. BBC News Africa tweeted a clip lasting 4 minutes, 35 seconds, taking ‘a look back at Queen Elizabeth II’s longstanding relationship with Africa.’ It was imbued with patriotic sentiment throughout:
‘Queen Elizabeth visited more than 20 countries in Africa. She developed a close relationship with the continent during her reign.’
As a South Africa-based Twitter user pointed out, the BBC was essentially:
‘rebranding colonialism as long-standing relationship.’
‘In 1952 Churchill argued Kenya’s fertile highlands should only be for white people and approved the forcible removal of the local population. Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans were forced into camps.’
‘Britain carried out a covert war in Yemen which led to 200,000 deaths between 1962-70 and killed with impunity in Aden.
‘Today Britain arms advises and oversees Saudi Arabia bombing Yemen.’
‘In 1953, Britain under Churchill ordered the overthrowing of the democratically elected leader of “British Guiana”. He dispatched troops and warships and suspended their constitution, all to put a stop to the [British Guianan] government’s nationalisation plan.’
‘On 19th August 1953, Britain leads a coup d’etat that overthrows democracy in Iran known as Operation Ajax which overthrows democratically-elected PM Mossadegh. Coded messages were put on the BBC to let the Shah know democracy was overthrown.’
‘On 30th Jan 1972, the Bloody Sunday massacre was perpetrated by the parachute regiment of the British Army who killed 14 civilians at a peaceful protest march. Following the massacre the British lied about the victims.’
‘Britain under Blair invaded Iraq and killed over 1 million people, displaced millions more, brought unknowable depths of suffering to the Iraqi people & gave birth to ISIS.’
‘Pictured here is Prince Harry, Elizabeth’s grandson who boasted he killed in Afghanistan. He flew Apache helicopters and coordinated jets to drop 500lb bombs on people he called “Terry Taliban”.’
‘Pictured here is what Libya was transformed into after 6 months of NATO bombing which assisted thousands of terrorists backed by Britain. The British gov played an integral role in ensuring the most developed country in Africa as per the UN’s Human Development Index was crushed.’
In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland opined that the Queen ‘made scrupulous neutrality appear easy’ with ‘vanishingly few intrusions by the monarch into politics’. John Pilger made a nonsense of these claims:
‘The dark power of royalty. In 1971, the Chagos Islanders were expelled by the British to make way for a US base. This was made possible by a meeting of the Queen’s Privy Councillors (advisers) and approved in person by the Queen. Using the same power, Blair invaded Iraq in 2003.’
In 2014, Freedland’s own newspaper reported:
‘The day after Prince Charles donned traditional robes and joined Saudi princes in a sword dance in Riyadh, Britain’s biggest arms company announced that agreement had finally been reached on the sale of 72 Typhoon fighters sold to the Gulf kingdom.’
The Guardian cited Andrew Smith, spokesman for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade:
‘It is clear that Prince Charles has been used by the UK government and BAE Systems as an arms dealer.’
According to the Guardian, Prince Andrew has performed a similar role.
You will be hard pushed to find ‘mainstream’ mentions of the above egregious examples of British history under Elizabeth II’s ‘reign’ (belated rare exceptions can be found here and here). Instead, there is a saturation level of elegies across the supposed ‘spectrum’ of national news media about how she and the royal family have provided ‘stability’, ‘held this country together – held countries together’2, ‘the rock on which modern Britain was built’ (Prime Minister Liz Truss), ‘unwavering dedication and devotion’, and so on.
Mark Easton, BBC News Home Editor, even referred to the Queen as the nation’s ‘comforter-in-chief’ whose ‘calming presence’ was often required during ‘bewildering days’. As though citing Tolkien, Easton added:
‘The new king and new prime minister, both only days into their roles, must find a way to guide an unsettled kingdom through troubling times.’
At times, media reporting descended into preposterous rhapsodising about Mother Nature mourning the death of the Queen. The Daily Mail actually published photographs of clouds in the sky under the headline:
‘Astonishing moment a cloud resembling Queen Elizabeth floats over English town just hours after she died’
One tweeter japed, posting a picture of a fuzzy oblong cloud, saying:
‘Just saw a cloud that looked like a document advocating for a republic’
Other reports waxed lyrical about a double rainbow over Buckingham Palace ‘as crowds gather to mourn Queen’. Respectfully dressed in black, Russell Brand, author of a book titled, Revolution, said the rainbows had ‘curiously’ appeared. The Daily Mirror’s chief reporter deemed the rainbow story worthy of a tweet.
Imagine how journalists would respond to such supernatural mawkishness about the heads of state in North Korea, Russia, China, Iran, Syria or Venezuela. There would, of course, be a tsunami of Western scorn.
The extremist combination of idolatry and ideology pervades the ‘mainstream’, with dissent or even open discussion, seemingly banned. We are all supposed to wallow in grief or, at the very least refrain from saying anything that might be considered ‘unseemly’.
As Cook wrote:
‘The demand for silence is not a politically neutral act. It is a demand that we collude in a corrupt system of establishment rule and hierarchical privilege.
‘The establishment has a vested interest in enforcing silence and obedience until the public’s attention has moved on to other matters. Anyone who complies leaves the terrain open over the coming weeks for the establishment to reinforce and deepen the public’s deference to elite privilege.’
One non-violent protestor, Symon Hill, reported:
‘It was only when they declared Charles to be “King Charles III” that I called out “Who elected him?” I doubt most of the people in the crowd even heard me. Two or three people near me told me to shut up. I didn’t insult them or attack them personally, but responded by saying that a head of state was being imposed on us without our consent.’
Police then took hold of him:
‘I was outraged that they were leading me away, but was taken aback when they told me they were arresting me.’
Hill was driven home in a police van:
‘Eventually, on the way home, I was told that I had been arrested under the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act 2022 (the outrageous act passed earlier this year) for actions likely to lead to “harassment or distress”.’
Climate scientist Bill McGuire provided some vital perspective:
‘The second Elizabethan age was one of rampant, free market capitalism and the raping of our planet. The ages that follow will see us, our children, and those who follow, reaping the whirlwind of catastrophic climate collapse.’
He linked to a disturbing news report – the report relegated to page 25 in the Guardian, mentioned above – about a scientific study showing the world is on the brink of five ‘disastrous’ climate tipping points:
‘Giant ice sheets, ocean currents and permafrost regions may already have passed point of irreversible change.’
One of the study’s researchers, Professor Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, warned that the Earth is:
‘on course to cross multiple dangerous tipping points that will be disastrous for people across the world. To maintain liveable conditions on Earth and enable stable societies, we must do everything possible to prevent crossing tipping points.’
In a recent article, John Pilger described how he once met Leni Riefenstahl, one of Hitler’s leading propagandists ‘whose epic films glorified the Nazis’. Pilger wrote:
‘She told me that the “patriotic messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the German public.
‘Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked. “Yes, especially them,” she said.
‘I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.’
You only have to observe the deranged level of royalist propaganda, and the serious dearth of rational analysis of today’s societal crises, to see this for yourself.
- Leo Tolstoy, Writings On Civil Disobedience and Non-Violence, New Society, 1987, p. 109.
- Nick Robinson, BBC Radio 4 Today, 9 September 2022
This content originally appeared on Dissident Voice and was authored by Media Lens.