In the wake of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s PR disaster on a Caribbean tour, sources close to the couple have hinted that William is considering modernizing long-held royal protocols, including scrapping the unofficial “never explain, never complain” policy.
The phrase was coined by former Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who served in the late 18th century, and was adopted by other Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill and Stanley Baldwin. The Queen Mother was a fan, and it’s also the mantra Queen Elizabeth II lived by in relation to her relationship with the press and the public.
A Victorian throwback, “never explain, never complain” is a product of a bygone era marked by stiff upper lips, wives as property of their husbands, and a lack of understanding of basic propriety. It is the idea that in order to gain power and respect one should stand aloof, still and above all. It’s about superiority – rising above the little people with their little worries, their ignorance and their gossip.
Maybe it was a useful approach if people believed God gave kings the right to rule over their subjects.
Cultivating an aura of deified mystery might have helped keep the whole charade going.
The “never explain, never complain” approach fits perfectly with the concept of royalty — where a handful of people stand above all others, are revered while cruising around in golden carriages, wear priceless jewelry, and smile at flag-waving children (or reach out to black children behind wire fences , in the case of the Duchess of Cambridge).
Hopefully we’re a little less blindly deferential these days.
Royals were not given their titles by God, and “never explain, never complain” is condescending and arrogant.
It’s just another way of treating the public – who, at least in part, fund the Windsors’ lavish lifestyle – as “less than”. Of course I don’t suggest it The royals should respond to any gossip or speculation affecting them – or latch on to Twitter and argue with johnnyboy43769 about who wore a particular tiara best.
On serious issues such as racism, British colonial history and slave trade reparations; A “never explain” approach feels grossly inappropriate — and wrong.
The Windsors shouldn’t be looked at beyond an explanation.
Silence and detachment – as they have done in the face of allegations of racism within the family, saying the matter is “private” – is doing them no favours.
The British public and citizens of the Commonwealth countries deserve explanations. We’re not kids easily distracted by glittery dresses and military insignia.
How will the royal family help heal the wounds of colonialism? How much of the disgraced Prince Andrew who billed his multimillion-pound sex abuse accuser Virginia Giuffre came from public money?
What positive and beneficial purpose can the royal family serve in Britain today?
Kate and William’s recent tour has been marked by protests, criticism and some seriously misjudged photo opportunities. From taking a spin in the ‘special royal Land Rover’ dressed in white to copy something the Queen and Prince Phillip did in the 1960s; Add to Kate’s £35,000 touring wardrobe and her white savior-esque interactions with local kids, the expensive Jolly looked like an awkward colonial throwback.
Prince William is absolutely right – “never explain, never jammer” has to go. It has no place in the modern world and belongs in the dustbin of history. Perhaps soon the whole concept of monarchy will happily follow.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/royals-are-right-to-drop-their-never-explain-routine-41501184.html The royals are right about breaking their never-explain routine