Why did The Times newspaper place a large colourful photo of the younger members of the British royal family on its front page?

With a daily circulation of 446,164, the The Times newspaper’s front page in seen by shoppers and passers-by in more than 17500 shops around the UK.

On February 6, 2017, the newspaper’s front page displays a large photo of three of the younger Royals running, with the caption: “Royal line. A competitive Prince Harry beat his brother and sister-in-law at the Olympic park yesterday in an event for their mental health charity Heads Together”.

Running Royals may be newsworthy, but the photo may also carry another, more defensive, message. A subtext.

The monarchy, and the ordering of British society

Republican Tony Benn once wrote:

“the existence of a monarchy which doles out peerages, bishoprics and a full range of honours effectively preserves a feudal class system which keeps everyone in their place.”

“The monarchy is, in fact, the most blatant example of social engineering. It imposes its own form of political correctness under which everyone, except the privileged and “specially gifted”, knows their position in society and is required to speak respectfully to those above them and do what they are told.”


“Above all, the existence of a hereditary monarchy helps to prop up all the privilege and patronage that corrupts our society; that is why the crown is seen as being of such importance to those who run the country – or enjoy the privileges it affords.”

Or as Professor Owen Barder  has written:

“Until we turn our back on hereditary power at the top of our political, military and religious institutions, we have little chance of shaking off the mentality of a society defined by class.  Growing up in Britain, every child (but one) knows that they could never become Head of State, simply by virtue of being born to the wrong family.”

Subtext. The “competitive” young Royals are running because…

The caption on the photo on the front of the Times does not mention corruption. It does mention “competitive”.

It’s an attractive photo of young people running, no gilt horse-drawn carriages are in view. It portrays the monarchy as young, healthy and dynamic.  

Hereditary power, that “props up all the privilege and patronage that corrupts our society” is the surely opposite of  competitive.

But the young Royals in this photo, beneficiaries of hereditary power, are described as “competitive” – and therefore necessary and vital. 

One interpretation of what the The Times is saying: The wealthy people at the top of society deserve to be there as they’re the leaders in the race – they’re not indolent. Therefore the “feudal class system” in which everyone knows their place and allows some minor jockeying for position, is healthy, fit for the 21st century.

See also

The battle for Britain’s story

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