I Propose we Decommission the Royal Family

Briony Greenhill
5 min readMay 7, 2023
Scarborough Beach, 6th May 2023 (Coroniation day)

My reasons are quite simple really. Our inequality is epic, and the Royal Family as the symbolic pinnacle of the wealthy, does not serve our times.

You know about the current conditions of squeeze, economic stress, inequality, you don’t need me to tell you. But here are some stats:

We’re the 6th biggest economy in the world, yet a third of our children live below the poverty line (source 1, source 2).

According to the Food Foundation, food insecurity was experienced in January 2023 by:

  • A quarter (25%) of households in which NHS and social care workers live
  • More than a quarter (26%) of households in which food sector workers live
  • More than a fifth (21%) of households in which education sector workers live
  • 1 in 4 households with children
  • 18% of households in total

This inequality has been exacerbated a lot in my lifetime — the last 40 years or so; but I’d say its roots go back at least 1000 years.

The Royal Family are direct descendants of William the Conqueror, who led a horrifically bloody invasion of the UK — burning up, killing, starving, entire villages, flocks, asserting dominance in the most gruesome of ways. He — uniquely among kings past and future — declared that all the land was his; all the land, all the people, all the animals — belonged to him. (Paul Kingsnorth).

It was a move so devastating, yet actually so powerful, that it seems to be about halfway still in place today. 1% of the population owns something between 50–70% of the land. (The Royal Family is a significant part of that 1%. — Shrubsole) The Royal Family are the direct descendants of Guillaume le Batard — in other words, “we are still being governed by Normans.” (Kingsnorth)

While the rest of us face epically high housing costs, inability to access land for ecovillages, regenerative agriculture, and all the other dreams; and we’re too knackered to organise any kind of proactive response to this because we’re working so hard to pay our basic bills in an epically pressured financial system for many of us — based in part on the cost of housing, which is based in part on the cost of land.

In Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing, the authors argue that land is a massive source of wealth; the ability to charge rent, accrue subsidies, get cheap loans backed by the land, and thus invest.

We could say that the epic grip on power and wealth by a privileged elite, in leadership in politics and elsewhere — is literally grounded in land based wealth privileges and thus, access to power.

We need to put land back into politics, the authors argue. The last political leader to propose land reform was Lloyd George after the first world war. Since then, we’ve gone quiet on land — in politics, and even in information. Unlike other countries, Nick Hayes points out in the Book of Tresspass — which have publicly available land registries — UK land ownership is shrouded in opaqueness. Knowledge is power. So withholding information is disempowering. I forget the exact numbers but Guy Shrubsole points out, in Who Owns England, that with the UK Land Registry enquiries costing about £3 each, at 2 million UK land owners, you’d need about £6m just to find out exactly who owns the UK.

King Charles, we want our commons back! Lily Sequoia says it straight in this poem.

So, all this is to say: what I believe we need is not to declare war on “the Normans”, because we’re all a bit Norman and because I don’t believe war is a good tool for change. I think it’s madness and we can do better. How? I want to find a way

To bring the old old power of the Normans into balance with the Angles, the Saxons, the Brits, the Celts, the Pagans and the Druids, the Vikings, all the ancestry that makes us up and then all the more recent arrivals who we’ve invited into this country and need to live with and among, not above. Balance between all the people; and ultimately, between the people and the more than human world, and everyone in the world. In other words, bringing life into balance with all of life.

This old, white man; and the crew of old, white, male leaders of christian churches who surround him for the coronation, articulated in christian terms, a father sky god religion where women and the earth are beneath — at the heart of this imbalancing that we are redressing in these times — is out of order. It is too old. It is too broken. It is too far from being able to reflect, meet and serve life in our times.

It needs to be decommissioned.

I’ve lived in the USA and France, neither of who have, or need, or miss royal families. It’s really not a biggie.

However, to exercise one’s right to peaceful protest to say such a thing in a group in public, yesterday those people were arrested before the placards even came out of the van. I.e., there’s oppression even making this point of view visible, audible.

6 May 2023

Under a Conservative government that has been eroding such rights harshly and in my view, terrifyingly over the last 5 years; edging into what is beginning to feel a touch totalitarian.

In a political system where “it takes 38,000 votes for every Tory MP and 50,000 for each Labour counterpart [to get elected], as against 250,000 for every Liberal Democrat and 850,000 for the sole Green MP.” (Prospect)

The squew of power is epic. The implications are epic. We need to do something to rebalance this I believe. I am reaching, seeking, for what; who to join with, under what banner, in what project, to Make It So.

It’s something of a revolution we need. I wish for a non violent revolution. How do we do this.

One thing, among many others, is clear: The Royal Family is ready for decommissioning.

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Briony Greenhill

Briony Greenhill is a folk-soul improvisational artist who teaches Collaborative Vocal Improvisation (CVI); formerly a researcher with a 1st in politics.