Dr. Fixit; date unknown late 1980's


I happened across an article about the current debate in Britain on the future of its royal family. Tickets had been sold for as much as $67 to an eight hour public debate by members of the “chattering classes” on the future status of the Windsors. Apparently the event was sponsored in large part by Rupert Murdoch, whose tabloid publications have probably done as much as any group to create the hue and cry for change in Britain’s monarchy. I suppose Charlie and Andy have to bear most of the blame, running around like they still had droit de seigñeur. Proposals ranged from the monarchy being abolished to continuing as it is now. This is detailed in the May 23 edition of the New York Times on page 5.

A middle ground that was proposed during the debate was that the royal family “be stripped of much of its pomp and revenue and reduced to the status of a ‘bicycle monarchy,’ as in the Netherlands and Scandinavia.” Presumably this phrase which I had not encountered before was used by the “chattering classes” (another phrase I hadn’t encountered) during the debate. I was at first puzzled by the sentence, as a bicycle monarchy seems like the best sort of monarchy. After all bicycling is “the best thing man has ever done.”* To be promoted to the status of a cycling king rather than to be perpetually surrounded by bodyguards and never allowed to make a right turn in British traffic without the bobbies clearing the street seems like a dramatic improvement. Why did the Times fail to see it this way?

Think how much nicer it would be to be British if, when you were watching the Tour de France or the Milk Race, they had a team time trial in which you could watch Charlie and Andy take pulls for TI-Raleigh! (Just calling them Charlie and Andy is probably more of Murdoch’s skullduggery.) I never in my wildest dreams wanted to be in the British royal family; but to be a cycling king…ah that would be the life!

* The Bicycling Book by Krausz and van der Reis Krausz. Dial Press 1982.