Real royalty?

On Discovery Civilisation (UK version) today, Tony Robinson claimed to have unearthed the “real” heir to the British throne. (I assume this was a repeat of old programme, which I never saw. Noone needs to catch history and science programmes on terrestrial TV if they have cable…)

Humbug! “Real” heir to the throne, indeed? It turned out to be an English Lord somebody who was living in the Australian desert. As an English Lord, albeit no longer owning stately acreage, it was hardly a surprise to him that he was an aristocrat. He hardly needed the genetic fingerprinting, but it got thrown in anyway , so the progarmme seemed more like serious science.

This is the sort of nonsense that passes for history programmes on TV. How do you define “real heir” to the throne? It appears you

  • ignore 6 centuries of history, in which the monarchy was abolished and reinstated, and in which contenders to the throne have been imported from Holland or brought as marriage partners from Greece and Germany
  • assume the House of Windsor (nee Battenburg) is somehow functionally identical with the House of Tudor
  • go back no further than the Plantagents. No need for stressful searching out of Harald’s family or Cnut’s or Aelfred’s, let alone the descendants of Boudicca and the other pre-Roman ruling families
  • base your whole claim on one missing marriage from the times of the Plantagenets
  • assume the whole nature of royalty is passed on in the blood rather than struggled over in the real world

This is taking the history – the struggles over power and wealth – out of History and replacing it with a strange genetic determinist alternative pesudohistory.

I have ranted before about how TV archeaology’s 3-day-limited bulldozing of sites makes it necessary to find something amazing everywhere – or at least to make an impressive 3-d graphic reconstruction if the best find is a chipped piece of pot.

Is there now also an audience for this absurd genetic determinism? Some dumbing down is more than stupid. It can distort the very nature of how we understand history and society.

You were good in BlackAdder, Tony. In fact, you can get a better understanding of the past from the average Black Adder episode than from 30 Time Team episodes or, Toutatis forbid, Real Royal Family shows.

One thought on “Real royalty?

  1. It is a repeat, I caught a bit of the first airing and it was just stupid.

    I agree with you about Blackadder though … 😀

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