The idea that the British monarchy is a symbol of duty or sacrifice is “a lie”, Labour MP Clive Lewis has said.
The former shadow cabinet minister said the Royal Family in fact risked nothing for its privileged position and served as a distraction from the UK’s social ills.
His comments are likely to enrage Labour leader Keir Starmer, who last week issued orders for MPs to keep quiet in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death.
In an article for the Guardian newspaper published on Saturday Mr Lewis, a former shadow defence secretary and a veteran of the Afghanistan War, said the institution on the Royal Family provided cover for politicians.
“It is a spectacle exalted for exemplifying virtues that should be typical in public life and public behaviour,” he wrote.
“Casting such behaviour as exceptional allows the likes of Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and the economic elites they represent to break and exploit the rules for their own benefit and that of their very narrow class interest – of which the monarchy is an integral part.”
Guidance issued to Labour MPs by the leaders’ office this week said they should make no comment to the media beyond giving tribute to the Queen and “suspend all campaigning and party activity”.
Criticising the narrative around the Monarch’s death, Mr Lewis added: “While republicans should respect the language of ‘duty’ and ‘sacrifice’ monarchists have so forcefully claimed that the royal family makes on our behalf, we should not pretend that the reality is anything other than a lie.
“That is not what monarchy is. It may provide a symbolic way for us to recognise other people’s sacrifice and commitment to society – but the monarchy itself risks nothing and does not suffer, save for having the lives of the royal family become the stuff of celebrity gossip.
“Through it all, it remains the backbone of a power structure that traces its roots back to feudalism.”
Labour under Sir Keir has held nothing back in its praise for the UK’s hereditary monarchy, with its official Twitter account raising eyebrows on the political left by this week posting a large “God Save the King” graphic.
Sir Keir, himself a member of the monarch’s privy council and a Queen’s Counsel, has said that the Queen “lived alongside us”.
The party’s conference is set to go ahead as planned in Liverpool next week, however – despite the cancellation of the Liberal Democrat and TUC equivalent gatherings.