Belfast Telegraph

At last there's one reason for moving to North Korea - the Royal baby

By Eamonn McCann

Have you ever considered emigrating to North Korea? Sure, the Stalinist dictator Kim Jong-un is daft as a brush and living in his barracks of a country won't be a barrel of laughs, what with the regular famines and the ever-present chance of being thrown into a re-education facility for muttering that maybe the aforementioned Kim hasn't recently notched up his hundredth hole-in-one on the Pyongyang links.

But there are occasions when the country emerges as, perhaps, the most level-headed place on earth. Where else was the population so protected from the downpour of drivel which greeted the birth of a boy to the Baroness Carrickfergus?

The front page of Tuesday's Pyongyang Times was dominated by Ho Eun Byol, on account of her having achieved something which wasn't also achieved on the same day by 370,000 other women.

In Seoul, Ho grabbed two second-half goals in quick succession – the second a peach of a lob from outside the box – as North Korea overturned a one-nil deficit (midfielder Kim Soo Yun's strike against the run of play in the 26th minute) to triumph in their crunch tie in the Women's East Asian Cup. Baroness Carrickfergus didn't trouble the paper's front-page subs at all.

This sense of priorities suggests that the powers-that-be in Pyongyang are more faithful to genuine English tradition than the phoney philosophy of the plastic royalists, whose insults to the intelligence of us all reached a summit of stupidity this week.

It is flatly untrue that reverence for the royals is an English tradition, in spite of the fact that, over the past few days, even normally sensible presenters and commentators have suggested that the royals enjoy an enduring popularity and that this must reflect something deep in the character of the English people.

How otherwise to explain the Queen's opinion-poll comeback from her rock-bottom ratings following the death, in a drunk-driving accident, of her daughter-in-law in 1997?

There is, indeed, a tradition here – of the reinvention of the royals every time the common sense of the plain people seems likely to overwhelm the myth and fakery on which they depend.

Most of the media are ever on hand as back-up, fulfilling their purpose of sustaining an ideology which makes the sharp divisions in society seem normal, natural, inevitable.

There is nothing normal, natural, or inevitable about it. This is propaganda pure and simple.

Oliver Cromwell – I think I remember his portrait on an Orange banner – told his troops: "If the king were before me, I would shoot him as another. If your conscience will not allow you to do as much, go and serve elsewhere."

John Milton wrote: "People must needs be mad, or strangely infatuated, that build their chief hope of happiness... on a single person."

Thomas Paine declared that: "Hereditary monarchy is as absurd as a hereditary wise man, a hereditary mathematician, or a hereditary poet laureate."

Since bloodlines matter to monarchists, it is appropriate to mention that Cromwell, Milton and Paine were far more authentically English than the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas who have been posing, preening and parading themselves around Kensington Palace and St Mary's Hospital and who, it will be recalled, had to change their names to Windsor in an effort to sound English.

Oh, yes. The Baroness Carrickfergus. Royalists ought to be concerned that the new mum isn't being called by her proper name in the local papers. Smarten up there News Letter.

She's the Duchess of Cambridge in England, in Scotland the Countess of Strathearn, in these parts Baroness Carrickfergus.

She doesn't have a specific Welsh title yet and will have to wait until her father-in-law becomes king and her husband succeeds him as Prince of Wales.

In the meantime, her Cardiff moniker is Princess William. (Mind you, it might be some time before the transition takes place, the Queen being determined – according to my sources – to hold on to the throne for as long as possible out of dismay at the prospect of a man who hugs trees seizing the sceptre. Tree-hugging is one of the two things Prince Charles shares with Gerry Adams – the other being that neither was ever a member of the Provisional IRA.)

A return first-class airfare to Pyongyang will set you back less than a tenth of the cost to the taxpayer of the Baroness and her husband's one-way trip from Los Angeles to London last year.

North Korea may not be much fun, but at least you'll get a bit of peace.

Belfast Telegraph


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