Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a very entitled son of a robber barron. His family had amassed great wealth and fortune through pillage, rape and conquest.
He had an idea. He thought there was even greater wealth and power to be had. He contacted other robber barons and sold them the idea. What’s in it for us they asked? Wait and see, he told them.
They came across to England, defeated all the armies put up against them, raped and pillaged, and laid claim to all the land. He crowned himself king.
The king took the lion’s share of England. He allowed the Church a good portion, for the church gave credence to the sovereignty of the king and also controlled the people and helped keep them subjugated in their place. The rest of the land the new king parcelled out to the robber barons who had supported him.
The people were allowed to live on the bits of land the king allowed just so long as they paid their taxes and caused no trouble.
With the taxes raised the king built castles and palaces, raised armies to extend his kingdom (venturing into Wales, Scotland and Ireland to pillage and rape), lived the life of Riley with fine clothes, feasts, festivals, fun and servants, and gave generously to his robber baron supporters.
Thus it went down the ages through succession, civil wars, canny marriages, warring excursions and the odd hiccup.
We arrive at the present day.
The Church owns .5% of Britain (with a couple of billion in real estate). Millions of acres were forcibly taken from it by Henry VIII during the Reformation.
The aristocracy owns 30%.
50% of Britain is owned by just 1% of the population.
So I suppose we have come a long way in taking our own land back – the land that was stolen from us by the robber barons hundreds of years ago – but we still have a way to go!
The church currently owns around 160,000 acres. The Royal Family own 320,000 acres. I would lay bets that this land does not mainly consist of mountains, bogs and marshes. I bet they make a tidy profit.
So this week we have the Royal Jubilee where we are supposed to give thanks to the heirs of the robber barons for kindly ruling over us, extracting tithes from us and allowing us to live. To this end, we wave flags, put up bunting, hold parties, buy a huge assortment of royal junk and sit for days to gawp at royalty.
Excuse me if I do not metaphorically doff my cap and celebrate.