13 July 2007

Off with her crown

An interesting article yesterday by the Guardian's deputy fashion editor, about the reactions to that photo shoot (alleged) walk-out. This on the same day that the BBC is forced to apologise* to the Queen for misrepresenting the incident in their A Year with the Queen. Yes, this is the organisation whose corporate values appear to be compatible with regarding the Queen as an "unsympathetic character".

Hadley Freeman points out that, in our contemporary culture, the importance of Annie Leibovitz is regarded as trumping that of HM. What Ms Freeman doesn't seem to understand, or is perhaps too coy to say, is that this doesn't simply reflect an opposition between new world celebrity culture and old world deference, or between capitalism and tradition.

In a mediocracy, the idea of intrinsic importance counts for nothing. Values are assessed by reference to only two standards: (1) socially accredited experts, and (2) the majority.

In this case, the position of 'experts' (moral philosophers, political theorists, etc.) is neutral to negative. Royalty is, broadly speaking, considered to be inconsistent with egalitarianism. There is certainly no positive support from that quarter for the idea that royalty should have different rights from ordinary people.

The opinion of the masses is that royals, like all other individuals with claims to prominence, should be answerable to mass opinion. If the mass wants to see the Queen in a particular pose (without her crown; weeping for the death of Diana, etc.) then the mass is to be regarded as having a right to it. It is is really just The X Factor on a bigger scale. In a mediocracy, the crowd always trumps the individual.

* (free) registration to MediaGuardian required