This Monday, in my column in the Independent- which you can read online and is reproduced on my website with some additions- I asked why if Ed Milliband wants a mansion tax, a policy that I agree with, why not a palace tax? In these hardest of times the Royals keep expecting and getting more and more. Child poverty is up, suicide rates among men too and young people are losing hope as unemployment goes up. We are told to do our bit but not the Royal family, with its inherited privileges. The Queen got a 16% increase in her income in 2012; Prince William got a 10 million pound birthday present too and his dad is getting a specially protective BMW worth £300,000. Yet most Britons won’t hear a thing against them.
Well, you can imagine the fury that followed my column- always does. You are not free to question this institution or clan even though we know all that is wrong with it and them. Now the redoubtable Hilary Mantel, novelist and winner of two Booker prizes and other accolades finds herself in hot water, burning hot water, for a speech she made at a London Review of Books event. Hers was an intelligent, feminist critique of Kate, a young woman whose job is to smile, look like a perfect doll and make babies for the voracious nation. They say we have freedom of speech, but not when it comes to the monarch and her large, often ill behaved extended family. They say we are a democracy and yet we must succumb to the Royals and behave like devotees of some dark cult. Ms Mantel has spoken truths which may enrage the nation but are still truths. What a terrific President she would make. If only.