On the 4th of March 2012 Morrissey played a concert in Argentina in which his band wore ‘I hate William and Kate’ t-shirts and supported Argentina’s claim to own British colony, the Falkland Islands, then a source of renewed tension between Argentina and the UK (the nations had been to war over it in 1982):
You know of course the Malvinas Islands, everybody knows they belong to Argentina so please do not blame the British people, we know the islands belong to you… The government, the governments, never listen to the people, to their pain.
He got a wave of flack in the British press.
Dear Morrissey, this has to stop. Our relationship, which has been on shaky ground for some years, has reached breaking point. The clunky, quasi-political stage patter about the Falklands in South America last week (they “belong to Argentina”, you announced, boldly, to 15,000 Argentinians), combined with the prominent display of T-shirts bearing the preschool insult “We Hate William and Kate”, have been the last straw. In short, we are almost done as a couple. (Kevin Maher, the Times, March 2012)
The flack including – as always – the false racism accusations from Finsbury Park, a list of out-of-context quotes to “prove” that he’s racist or at the very least someone who has unacceptable outbursts, and homophobia…
And these are often corner boys and skinheads — male archetypes that he describes in hugely homoerotic ways, but never totally gay because Morrissey is, like, the third sex. And stuff. (Kevin Maher, the Times, March 2012)
To be a national treasure you have to be likable. Is Morrissey likable any more? I’m almost loth to say that he isn’t, because to do so would be to play into the persecution complex he has been nurturing for the best part of his solo career. Even when he makes pronouncements that, broadly speaking, I agree with, there’s something about the way he makes them that makes me recoil. I’m not a royalist, but pictures of his band lined up either side of him on his recent Argentinian tour, wearing “We hate William and Kate” T-shirts, momentarily made me feel like becoming one. (Pete Paphides, music writer, The Guardian, March 2012)
Later that year he was appalled by the jingoism of the London Olympics, the winning bid being tendered by Boris Johnson, then London mayor, now (2021) the UK’s Prime Minister.
“I am unable to watch the Olympics due to the blustering jingoism that drenches the event. Has England ever been quite so foul with patriotism? The ‘dazzling royals’ have, quite naturally, hi-jacked the Olympics for their own empirical needs, and no oppositional voice is allowed in the free press. It is lethal to witness. As London is suddenly promoted as a super-wealth brand, the England outside London shivers beneath cutbacks, tight circumstances and economic disasters. Meanwhile the British media present 24-hour coverage of the ‘dazzling royals’, laughing as they lavishly spend, as if such coverage is certain to make British society feel fully whole. In 2012, the British public is evidently assumed to be undersized pygmies, scarcely able to formulate thought. As I recently drove through Greece I noticed repeated graffiti seemingly everywhere on every available wall. In large blue letters it said WAKE UP WAKE UP. It could almost have been written with the British public in mind, because although the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain, the 2013 grotesque inevitability of Lord and Lady Beckham (with Sir Jamie Horrible close at heel) is, believe me, a fate worse than life. WAKE UP WAKE UP.” (Morrissey, August 2012, TrueToYou.Net).
Again it led to a wave of flack in the British press.
The Guardian wrote:
Far from providing a focus of national unity and good cheer, Morrissey, says the Olympics have created a situation in which “the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain”.
As ever, he was also misquoted and paraphrased – this time to make him sound like a killjoy racist for NOT flag-waving.
An anti-Royal stance has a certain moral glamour – but showbiz and the media love the Monarchy. They provide stories to write about, they host high profile events to show off at AND if you network hard enough they crown your career with an honour. Of course it’s all a ruse – they deliberately share their unearned limelight so they’re surrounded by people motivated to let them shine. Morrissey loudly refusing to be one of those people not only limits his opportunities, it makes everyone playing along feel dubious.
In 2021 after Harry and Meghan gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey where they accused the UK press and the Royal Family of racism and after the Black Lives Matter protests had led to calls for a reckoning with the UK’s colonial past, some of the same people who took potshots at him in 2012 changed their tune – about royals and patriotism, not Morrissey, who they now believe is an evil British nationalist.
Here Piers Morgan is referring to his Olympic remarks:
The fallout exposed bigotry in the UK press – including homophobia, snobbery and anti-Irish racism.
A former colleague who did shifts on the newsdesk there in the 1990s recalls that there was a blacklist of people about whom the paper would not run stories, no matter how good the tale. Top of this list were foreigners and “lowlifes” – who included “anyone with a non-English name, Irish and the entire working class, unless a yuppie plumber”. There were no page leads about black people because page leads had to have an accompanying photograph and “photographers couldn’t take pictures of black people because you couldn’t see their features”.
Meanwhile, over at The Sun (and the News of the World) there was a dread of “poofs” and “queers”, from the “gay plague” and “despicable” gay kiss in “EastBenders” of the 1980s to the “gay mafia” running the country in the late 1990s – when it demanded that all homosexual MPs be outed, explaining: “Their sexuality is not the problem. The worry is their membership of a closed world of men with a mutual self-interest.” (Liz Gerard, March 2021, Press Gazette)
And in contrast to Morrissey’s press coverage, where he’s repeatedly condemned for things they’ve insinuated are racist, Prince Philip’s ‘off-colour‘ racist remarks have been consistently framed as ‘gaffes‘.