It’s Queen’s Birthday Monday, but it’s not the Queen’s birthday. Josie Adams explains her personal vendetta against this holiday and the monarchy in general.
Queen’s Birthday celebrations will be held today, at Queen’s Wharf. This is not Queen Elizabeth II’s real birthday, nor do I believe she’s ever set foot on an Auckland wharf.
However, this week is my birthday. Hotel DeBrett has never put on a high tea in my honour. In fact, they’ve never even invited me to the premises.
Her Royal Highness the Queen has had a whopping 93 birthdays, all on the 21st of April. You could argue that she’s had 161 birthdays, and I will. She was crowned at the age of 25, and therefore has had “Queen’s Birthdays” in addition to her own every year since. This is a classic indulgent Taurus move.
I, on the other hand, have only had 26 birthdays, and therefore they are more valuable. I will also henceforth be artificially inducing a scarcity of birthdays by refusing to age. I do these things for you, the people. Because I care.
Queen Elizabeth II does not care about you. She received a pay increase during the global financial crisis, which I object to. In comparison, I have never earned more than the average income nor owned even one single timeshare in a castle.
In Ol’ Lizzie’s defence, it was actually King George II who wanted another birthday. He didn’t want to hold his birthday parade in winter, so he decreed that the monarch’s birthday would henceforth be celebrated on the first Monday of June.
This cowardly tradition doesn’t pan out for me, down in the antipodes. All my life I’ve had wintry, exam-adjacent birthdays with nary a single parade. I can’t just move my birthday to summer as they did – I respect Jesus too much.
Yes, I appreciate a day off work. In fact, not having to work on Monday was the editor’s main objection to me writing this piece. How easily the aristocracy buys our loyalty. There’s another way to get a day off, you’re not going to celebrate me: years ago, members of the public called for ‘Sir Edmund Hillary Day’ to be established. Sir Ed is a national hero, is not claiming a second birthday, and his legacy actually contributes to our local economy and society.
I already disliked the monarchy as a child, before I knew what they’d done to me on a personal level. “Mother,” I would ask, “why does the Queen have 13 castles and palaces, not inclusive of lodges and parks, and we have none?” As an adult, I look at the Grenfell Tower incident, the 320,000 homeless people in Britain, or the climate refugees pouring into Europe and think the Queen could probably bear to donate one of the 34 properties the Windsors own to house her subjects.
She even robs hungry citizens of food from right under their noses. Tell me, on your OE to the UK did you ever eat a swan? Have you have seen succulent, flavoursome roast swan laid upon a bed of greens? No, you haven’t. That’s because of the monarchy. The Queen technically owns all unmarked swans on open water in Britain, although she only “exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries”. She claims this exercising of swan ownership is purely for the annual swan census, but I don’t believe her. She has tasted of swan flesh, and she will not share.
She also has “dominion over all sturgeons, porpoises, whales, and dolphins in British water”, which I don’t remember from the Bible but werk, I guess.
Our Queen is currently the longest-reigning monarch in British history. In this case, I feel for her. She probably doesn’t want to be queen, but can’t bear the thought of any of her children wearing the crown. Her objectively best child is Prince Charles, a buffoon of note and author of a series of controversial letters to parliament, including a 2001 complaint about the Human Rights Act, a 2002 letter decrying “ever-more prescriptive laws – for example, health and safety at work”, and a promise he made to Helen Clark that he would do everything in his power to conserve Antarctic huts. It’s possible the Prince’s secret campaigns did more to affect social change than anything the Queen has ever done. I might celebrate his birthday.
Her namesake, Queen Elizabeth I, was so influential that 19 films have been made about her. Our Queen has The Crown, a TV series that is critically acclaimed but also stars the worst Doctor Who. Queen Elizabeth I launched the British Empire into a new age, spoke seven languages, sponsored innovative scientific projects, and ended up having the era named after her. Elizabeth II speaks nearly two languages, has her name ascribed to 600 charities, and has managed to avoid ever admitting she’s a lizard person. So, same, I guess.
The monarchy used to have a function. While the aristocracy-peasantry dynamic wasn’t so great, at least there was a role for a monarch – to unite the country and make conclusive decisions on its future. Our current monarchy’s main function seems to be acting as a tourism cash cow, which we do not benefit from in New Zealand. Also, let’s be real – tourists want to see the jewels and the buildings, not Prince Philip’s temple veins straining to hold back a racist thought.
In New Zealand, our financial contribution to the royal budget is estimated to be about a dollar per year per person – not a lot, but imagine what the Wellbeing Budget could have done with another $4.8 million.
Also, imagine the birthday party I could have thrown with $4.8 million. I’d be able to buy a dolphin instead of begging the Queen for one.