Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Andrew Liddle
Features Writer
2:42 PM 10th March 2021

And Then There Were Two

Rachel Meghan Markle. Photo courtesy of WikiMedia
Rachel Meghan Markle. Photo courtesy of WikiMedia
So here’s the tricky paradox. If you make a serious accusation of any kind, let’s say in this instance of racism, but then refuse to substantiate it by naming the peccant individual, you become party to the cover-up of your own revelation.

You, yourself, apparently the innocent victim, are not removed from complicity in it. Racism is such a serious offence that anybody who is the victim of it has an obligation to report it in full. We know that. Not to name and shame is to allow the racist to escape punishment. Many might say, by the way, that it should be an offence to make a serious accusation of any kind and then retreat from the specifics.

Unwittingly, or by intention, you inevitably throw suspicion on all who might have been in the vicinity, say the classic Agatha Christie five. As the Queen of Crime found, having more than five suspects gets seriously confusing. To come out off the record and eliminate the two oldest possible suspects might be thought a laudable act of kindness to them – but it does rather narrow the field down to three.

You don’t have to have the grey cells of Hercule Poirot to work this out. In fact, it’s two really, isn’t it, because the fragrant English rose straight out of M/s Christie’s book of stock characters, has already been eliminated as ‘a good person’ by the accuser in chief.

Two then, people might be thinking, speculating that if you would go out of your way to eliminate the grandparents, you’d surely want to do the same for your ageing father – and maybe your brother although cadet syndrome is not unfamiliar among younger brothers, especially in spares for the heirs.


So speculation is inevitable, is it not - if we are being specific - that the one who made the racist remark is either the heir to the throne or his successor (assuming the monarchy survives). In these circumstances you might expect one of the two, the innocent party, to deny the accusation vigorously. Which self-respecting future monarch and head of the Commonwealth would not wish to do that? But then, of course, there is another tricky little problem. He who denies accuses the other.

Those who take an ironic view of the monarchy will not be entirely surprised by the inherent difficulties of its current situation. If you see the institution as a living anachronism with roots in the feudal past, you will not be shocked to see that its modernising tendencies will be self-defeating. It would be a bit like trying to do a makeover of Gilbert and Sullivan, say of The Yeomen of the Guard – that one with the delicious subtitle The Merryman and His Maid! You’d have to change the names to start with. Sir Richard Cholmondeley (pronounced ‘Chum'lee’), Lieutenant of the Tower, would have to become Dick Something or other, caretaker of the tower block. You see the difficulties. It wouldn’t work.

A good plan for the monarchy might be to never rock the gilded boat under any circumstances, make a permanent display of good works and drop the ‘rule over’ bit in favour of ‘serve’. Clearly Her Majesty Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to give the correct title out of respect and so there is no confusion with the first of that ilk who expired in 1603, realised this at an early age.

Undeniably Popular

One of the reasons that she is undeniably popular, especially among people of a certain age, is that she has not greatly put a foot wrong, as far as is known. Another reason, of course, is respect for her age and the longevity of her reign. Queen Victoria received the same adoration as an old lady in the 1890s, having survived eight assassination attempts during the course of her 63-year reign.

At present, many kind decent people will wish to show great sympathy for the Queen’s predicament. Even the staunchest republicans might feel the time to push for a referendum might well be after the end of her reign, not during its troubled closing phases. What promises to be truly fascinating for the ironic observer, however, will be the way the Royal Family handles an old problem in a new age. Over centuries they have been adept at using a variety of cunning devices, not least royal patronage, to sustain their position in time of crisis. This, however, will not impress the twitterati, the medium of the people, many of whom are suffering enormous financial privations. There could be the ultimate in mass indignation - a Twitter storm! It could spread like a virus. Go viral, even.

So, the opening gambit, we are told, is a private investigation among the Royal Family. By whom and with what remit has not yet been divulged. Clearly if an investigation is merited, and who can deny it is, then the results must surely be made public. If not, why not?

Flat Denial

If there is a flat denial of this most serious of accusations, there is a certain sense that the accusers become the accused. The original accusers might then find themselves provoked or encouraged or, indeed, keen to name the name. They might, indeed, be summoned by their Queen – Oprah – to account.

Is there someone - anyone - within the royal ranks whose absolute sense of duty, their ancient blue-blooded noblesse oblige, might compel them to come out with the full mea maxima culpa – and attend the race relations classes?