The Fish Rots from its Head

Episode 68


There is an old saying that a fish rots from the head down.  It is phrase that is known in China and in Europe from the period of the Middle Ages. It is certainly a phrase that I heard my parents say throughout my childhood, usually referring to people at the top of organisations. If you look up this phrase, there are a variety of explanations given as to the exact meaning, but all of them are consistent with the notion that the top determines the content.  Ie if the leader of the organisation is poor and ineffective, then it follows the organisation culture and style will replicate that same approach and tone.

In one of the reference sources listed below, it refers to a number of corporate scandals which in their own way reflected the fish rotting from the head scenario.  One company it mentioned was Enron, where the Chairman appeared unwilling or unable to intervene and see the problems for what they actually were. A Chief Operating Officer who was pursuing personal gains that became a criminal activity.

The reference source goes on to state that there are wider issues to consider than just the CEO of an organisation.  It suggests that many organisations still thrive despite weak leadership.  In all but a few cases, the leaders were only able to influence their immediate reports and a few other people.  Their role is only part of the story.  The report suggests other things are at play here.

The podcast and this article will be looking at management theory and in particular applying the various indicators to the current British Royal Family, and in doing so, look at the leadership of the last 70 years and how the current leadership is shaping up, though it is early days.  The 2nd in Line , like the current King, is not winning in the popularity stakes and whilst the Queen was revered because she was ‘always there’ and gave Royalists a feeling of stability and level headedness. It has to be said however, tangible outcomes for the country from those 70 years, and the blurred lines between Monarchy and Government, there are a number of questions being asked now. It seems like The Queen was hanging on as long as possible, because she knew what would follow her passing – after all, she knows her family better than we do, even if they don’t actually know each that well in reality, but certainly The Queen would have far more idea than any member of the public. My personal view is that the Monarchy has been at risk for over 40 years, and everyone advising them seemed not to notice, or did not understand what they did see, as being dangerous for The Firm.  The largest red flags for me, was the age profile and the apparent lack of competence of the senior Royals, couple with a dangerous sense of entitlement, to grab power and put their mark on it, for their benefit, as opposed to the country.

The Queen presided over a Monarchy structure which was creaking at the seams with archaic ways of doing things, and hiding the dysfunction behind labels such as tradition, people like the pomp and ceremony, nothing wrong in transporting a crown in a car of its own, with protection officers in the vehicle too.  No concern about the plight of the people of the UK.  This year in particular my personal view was that it was not even comedic or quirky anymore, it was offensive.  People are going hungry, cannot afford to heat their homes this coming winter, we are about to have 3 hour loss of electricity and gas every week this winter and yet here is the UK using tax funds to transport a Crown in its own vehicle for the Opening of Parliament.  We had a four day Jubilee celebration period, which cost billions, and ultimately the crowds were well down on what was expected, and many people who are paid by the hour and where their job is not guaranteed from one week to the next, to have to lose income for those days they were not allowed to work, it has a long lasting impact on that person’s living conditions and circumstances.  These are not good leadership standards, and it explains a lot about how The Firm function.  Part of me feels that The Queen hung on to power, not because of the reason that is always quoted as the rationale for only leaving the post due to death. That was something she said to the nation, when she became Queen following the death of her father King George VI but more to do with the next two in the Line of Succession.  We will never know, but for a Monarch to reign for 70 years, I can see  no measurable difference in terms of the impact of the reign, other than people quote she gave stability at a time when the country had experienced much turmoil.  If I was generous and allowed for two decades of stability, how did the country benefit for the next 50 years and does the UK still feel ‘stable’ with the new King in post, and the obvious ‘war’ games being played between Clarence House and Kensington Palace. As a UK citizen I envisage a much shorter reign for the current King, and all those who feel a young King will make a positive difference.  I see the 2nd in Line mirrowing much of the behaviours of globally known huge corporations which had weak leadership, and who ignored the red flags, and ultimately led to their implosion, which could have been avoided.

How Did The Queen Make a Difference In the World/UK?

Washington Post:

  • She presided at official ceremonies, hosted world leaders and travelled in support of the British Government.
  • Having worked a job for 70 years means you have seen a lot of world leaders come and go. The first British Prime Minister she worked with was Winston Churchill, who had governed the nation through World War II.


  • Queen Elizabeth will come to be seen as a figure of major historical significance, celebrated for her dedicated public service. In a reign stretching over 70 years, she provided leadership, continuity and a focus for national unity.

Notable Accomplishments

  • Her service in World War 1
  • The stability she brought
  • She guided the transformation to a commonwealth
  • She modernised the Monarchy
  • She made succession more equitable
  • She was the first British Monarch to address Congress
  • Her first visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011

Glamour UK

Re The Queen – What legacy Did Her Reign Leave for Women?

  • Over the course of the 70 year long rule, The Queen has served as an example of what female power could be – calm, steady and strong.

New Statesman

Re How the Queen Changed Britain:- Elizabeth II’s legacy and example will endure, but the certainty she provided has gone.

London School of Economics – Blog – 2012

Direct extract from the article:-

The easiest way to think about why we’d be better off without the monarchy is to ask a simple question: what has it ever done for us? To answer it I’m going to turn to the supporters of monarchy for assistance (It’s only fair in the interests of balance). I want to consider each of their arguments in turn and see what we’re left with.

The most-cited reason for supporting the monarchy is that they sum up who the British people are. They’re Britishness itself. This is an argument that was often deployed by the Daily Telegraph’s Peter Osborne during last year’s royal wedding “celebrations”. Really Peter? Because I went to a state comprehensive school and I rely on the National Health Service for my care. That’s a big part of who I am – and that’s a big part of the experience of the nation at large. The Windsors are however completely removed from that experience. I also live in multi-cultural Brixton in south-west London. And such diversity is now a big part of the British character. It’s often said that curry is as British as fish and chips or a Sunday roast. Few would disagree. The hereditary principle denies us the possibility that our head of state can ever reflect the experience of the many.

So how then is the Queen supposed to meaningfully speak for and represent the nation? Another prominent argument. Her background and lack of democratic legitimacy make this extremely difficult. This otherness is sometimes mistaken for impartiality. But she is anything but impartial. The queen is a monarchist, she is aristocrat-in-chief. She has a position and a narrow interest to defend. It’s hard to see how she can act in the interests of the nation.

But try she might. She might try to understand the current economic plight of the nation – a nation which is in the grip of a double dip recession and all that goes with it: cuts in public services, mass unemployment, depressed wages, a reduced standard of living, increasing inequality. But no words like recession and austerity have passed the lips of our head of state. We essentially hear from our head of state twice a year. Once is when she reads from a piece of paper which tells her and us what the government intends to legislate on. And again in the Queen’s Christmas message, when we are served up bland, platitudinous nonsense from which it’s hard to discern what century we’re living in.

Some would argue the position neither allows her to speak for herself or the nation. This is something to be debated. But the Queen could and should make a gesture to show that she understands the nation’s difficulties. That we are truly “all in this together”. But such as acknowledgement is painfully lacking. No offer to pay the same taxes as the rest of us. No offer to accept less money from the taxpayer for her official duties. Instead the Queen has struck a deal with parliament to replace the Civil List with the Sovereign Support Grant. A deal which massively boosts her official income. This is a monarch instead thumbing her nose at her subjects.

Another well-rehearsed argument is that the monarch somehow provides balance in our political system. That she is a check on our politicians. I’ve dealt with some of this already. But let’s get down to brass tacks. Our prime minister may be offered personal opinions at one of her weekly briefings at the palace or through a meeting of the Privy Council, but we’ve no idea what is said. They’re not opinions offered in the public realm. Because despite the monarchy being a public institution there’s no public scrutiny of it. It’s exempt from Freedom of Information legislation. And if our politicians misbehave – as they did quite astonishingly through their abuse of parliamentary expenses – it is they who call an inquiry in themselves.  The Queen does not hold them to account and she herself cannot be held to account. Discussion of royalty is banned by parliamentary rules. Furthermore the Queen is used as a puppet of politicians. Either to hide behind at times of unpopularity so as not to take ultimate responsibility. Or to rubber stamp their cronyism through our corrupt honours system. Politicians largely decide who get the gongs – big party donors and the like – and she hands them out.

What else? The Queen promotes Britain abroad. No-one else does pomp and ceremony like the Brits, goes the old cliche and our foreign friends apparently view it all with some envy. Now this I really do find offensive. The fact of the matter is that monarchy is extremely damaging to the effectiveness of our foreign policy. How on earth are we supposed to support the Arab Spring and foster the idea of greater democracy elsewhere in the world when we have such as imperfect democracy ourselves? By not electing our head of state? But it doesn’t stop there. Our Queen gives legitimacy to murderous dictators by inviting them to dine with her and celebrate 60 years on the throne. I speak principally of King Hamad of Bahrain and King Mswati of Swaziland. But also Saudi royals, who deny women basic rights and help crush democratic uprisings in neighbouring countries with military might. In these actions we see a monarch who has contempt not just for public opinion and democracy but for human rights. It’s no coincidence that the vast majority of the 54 Commonwealth nations are now republics. Hard to see the evidence of envy in that.

Then there’s the argument that monarchy provides stability and continuity. I won’t dignify this ridiculous proposition with a proper answer, other than to say that its a bit like making the case for not brushing the old cobwebs away during the spring clean.

“The Royal Family are increasingly becoming an anachronism within modern British society. Whether it’s the interview with Meghan and Harry, or the Prince Andrew affair, or the growing awareness of the wrongs of colonialism, with which the monarchy is inextricably linked, they are becoming increasingly out of place in contemporary society. “

If the Monarchy ceased to exist, King Charles III would have to give up Buckingham Palace.

Kate Middleton and Prince William would pursue financial independence like the Sussexes.


The Independent

“The way protestors have been treated, and the way that Prince Andrew’s reputation is carefully being restored, is indicative of the deep inequality in our country” Sonali Bhattacharyya – Sept 18th 2022.

“Our public sphere is being stifled.  Multiple arrests for the mildest of public protests against King Charles’ accession; wall to wall positive media coverage with barely a single republican viewpoint; parliament adjourned at a time of desperate worry for working class families; major sporting events cancelled and even kids football halted.”


Norway’s Parliament Votes Over the Abolishment of the Monarchy

Article dated June 2022

“Norway has just seen its parliament vote on keeping the monarchy, causing much debate and some controversy. The proposal to establish a republic in Norway came from the country’s sitting Minister of Culture, who only a year ago took an oath on loyalty to the King.

The proposal fell with 134 votes in favour of the monarchy against 35 votes in favour of a republic. Several opinion polls have consistently shown that there is an overwhelming majority among Norwegians to keep the monarchy. Some polls have shown up to 82% support for the Norwegian royal family in the recent years.

Nevertheless, 35 members of the Norwegian parliament voted to remove the royal house. This is one less than the last time the proposal was up for debate two years ago.

Of the 35 who voted to abolish the monarchy, only one has, since the proposal was submitted, sworn obedience and loyalty to the King. This is Minister of Culture Anette Trettebergstuen. To become a minister, the appointee has to swear an oath or give assurance to the King.

In order to take part in a ministerial meeting, a formal oath must be taken, based on section 21 of the Norwegian Constitution. The traditional oath has the following wording: “I promise and swear, to show obedience and fidelity to the Constitution and the King, so help me God Almighty and Omniscient.”

Following the strong condemnation by the majority of the Norwegian population, the Minister of Culture issued the following statement: “I love the Norwegian royal family and think it is great to meet the King and the Crown Prince every Friday. Nevertheless, I am in principle a Republican, and believe power should not be inherited”.

At least Norway has had a vote.  I believe that the UK should have the facility to do the same over the coming years.  Over time, people and the way they view their Monarchy changes, and eventually there comes a time when there is no justifiable reason to continue with that arrangement.  Most Monarchies that existed around the world have gone.  The inevitable will occur with the all of the remaining ones over time.  Some will be via vote, and others will be by military take over, judging by what history books tell us.  In my view no modern society needs a Monarchy, which is an unelected group of people who inherit their status and power by retaining it within their family, and the positions of power are determined by order of birth.


The UK Monarchy Led by King Charles III with The Prince and Princess of Wales biting at his heels

The Queen Known to Treat Her Staff Well

The Queen was known to treat her staff with the utmost respect. In fact, the majority of her former employees regularly share warm and uplifting stories about her modesty, sense of humor, and humane treatment of everyone from those who worked for her to those she encountered on the street.

Incident with Charles and a Tray of Pens

Unfortunately, Charles’ reign as King hasn’t gotten off to a great start. During his ascension council, the new King appears to chastise one of his staff members for failing to clear his desk. In it, a frustrated Charles feverishly gestures to have his employee remove a tray of pens to make room for him to sign documents.


People Are Lashing Out at Him for His Behaviour

Twitter erupted after the clip was shared. “This is the real Charles you can’t hide who you are this is how he’s been treating the servants for years with such little respect. Fanning his finger to clean the desk off and move the object. Showing your real Arrogance you will fail it’s in the cards.” Added another: “Manners cost nothing!”

Staff Learned That They May Lose Their Jobs

The pen situation was only the tip of the iceberg. While the entire country has been mourning Queen Elizabeth’s death, up to 100 staff members at Clarence House, where the King and Queen Consort have lived for many years, have just learned that they may lose their jobs, according to a new report from the Guardian. The report claims that their services will no longer be needed when Charles and Camilla move out.


Everyone is Absolutely Livid


According to the source, a letter from Sir Clive Alderton, the King’s top aide, was sent out. “Everybody is absolutely livid, including private secretaries and the senior team. All the staff have been working late every night since Thursday, to be met with this. People were visibly shaken by it,” said a source.


Clarence House Will be Closed Down


“The change in role for our principals will also mean change for our household … The portfolio of work previously undertaken in this household supporting the former Prince of Wales’s personal interests, former activities and household operations will no longer be carried out, and the household … at Clarence House will be closed down. It is therefore expected that the need for the posts principally based at Clarence House, whose work supports these areas will no longer be needed,” it reads. “I appreciate that this is unsettling news and I wanted to let you know of the support that is available at this point.”



King Charles III has one of the most difficult jobs right now. To simultaneously mourn the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, move into a new home, and transition to the biggest job promotion of his life, from Prince to King. Unfortunately, like most other people, Charles cannot take any time off. According to some experts, the King is off to a rocky start – especially seeing as though his mother was one of the most beloved royal leaders of all time.



New York Post

King Charles was reportedly nicknamed the “pampered prince” by his staff at Clarence House, where he lived with his wife Queen Consort Camilla from 2003 until he recently took the throne.

Details of the former Prince of Wales’ lavish requests were revealed in the 2015 Amazon Prime documentary “Serving the Royals: Inside the Firm.”

Paul Burrell, who served as a butler to Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana, revealed the precise directions the king’s staff are given to care for him, from ironing his shoelaces to putting toothpaste on his toothbrush.

The former butler shared that King Charles had “everything done for him.”


Queen Elizabeth’s Passing Could Push Some Countries to Alter Their Ties to the British Monarchy

Extract from


Queen Elizabeth II’s passing has sparked an outpouring of mourning across the world, but in many places, the end of her reign is also raising questions about what the future holds.

Over a dozen countries recognized the late monarch as their head of state, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Belize, Jamaica, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Her death is likely to ignite debate about whether her successor, King Charles III, should fulfill that role. Already, there have been calls for change.

Adam Bandt, the leader of Australia’s Greens Party, posted condolences to the Queen’s family on Twitter. But he added “Now Australia must move forward,” saying “We need [a] Treaty with First Nations people, and we need to become a Republic.”

The age group of the “working Royals” and their family circumstances are problematic.  Most of them are near or well above pensionable age, and that has been clear for decades, in terms of a crisis that could have been avoided.  All successful organisations form strategic plans based on the demands of the services coming on the horizon, including what does not need doing anymore and what new things or ways of working does the organisation need to look at.  What will become the new Key Performance Indicators in the next 3-5 years, and what will not be a high priority?  What resources exist to provide these services in the timely manner required of the customer base? As each member passes on, it is not just pluck a name out of a hat and slot them into place like a jigsaw piece.  Training and development needs to take place.  Knowledge gained about the organisations the Firm plans to ‘work’ with.  The youngest two members of this new group of working Royal, have only ever been asked to do the style of Royal ‘work’ that has been carried out for the last 7 decades.  If that is the way you all plan to continue, then fine, admit that.  I would argue that you still cannot do the smile and wave and ribbon cutting style with the numbers of organisations on the books.  It is about time to be realistic.  If the Monarchy really plans to slim down, then reducing the number of working Royals, when in fact none are doing measureable activity, but following the traditional style of UK Royaling.  A slimmed down Monarchy does not mean because the total of working Royals is somewhere between 4 and 7 on any given day, if the costs of non working Royals has not reduced, then it is not slimmed down.  There should be a substantial reduction in the costs of maintaining non working Royals.  In terms of non working Royals, a couple have no need to be residing in uk taxpayer 50+ room home plus security and various other perks. Neither do a family of four where the parents are now classed as working Royals need to live in 120 room UK taxpayer home. There is zero justification for any family of any size, working Royal or not, to reside in 4 very large homes at Uk taxpayers funds, not to mention the use of two helicopters (no matter that one is borrowed from a friend), the fuel costs to travel on non working activity is not free, but all will come under the £15,000 total that needs to be declared.  It will be interesting to see the huge reduction in expenditure from the slimmed down Monarchy combined with the number of staff who are being made redundant.

I personally do not see the need for people living in vast accommodation that they do not pay for, including maintenance of said properties.  UK Media, who the BRF are closely connected to and with, constantly like to mention the number of rooms and a particular fixation of the number of bathrooms and possibly in the future the number of homes, of a certain couple, but in actual fact it is no one else business but theirs as no taxpayer funds are used to pay for anything that the family utilises.

I just do not see why all these UK above board business discussions that take place cannot take place on your own time and money.  I do not see old style Monarchy has any place in a modern society moving forward, but the nation needs to be given the opportunity to vote on such on a regular basis, and I suspect the votes will change over time.

The concept of Spares in any family set up is abusive in concept and application.  Living proof of the kind of activity over the centuries of any one with independent thought being accepted.  It would be so much better if the UK could appear to be embracing change, rather than continue to hold on to archaic practices and hide behind the descriptions of tradition and duty.

The day the UK media talk about the BRF every day on TV discussion shows, and writes 5 articles an hour on the BRF, I will then start to believe that the country has turned a corner and things are looking hopeful.  If your own media show no desire to write about the nations apparent revered Monarchy, because they will possibly attract less interest from all the Royalists out there, therefore advertising revenue will be reduced, then UK Monarchy and its media need to review their media strategy, because at the moment the money is being made by media organisations and publications writing about non UK tax funded people, and who do not actually reside in the UK.  That could present a problem for you further down the road, and the interest and therefore income from advertisers should be easy to attract for the Working Royals now in position.  With a new King at the helm, now is the best time to make changes, that make a real difference, not cosmetic differences, real mpact, and costs should decrease significantly because of the changes in the people receiving UK taxpayer funds, who are not working Royals, and it should be consistent across the board, and as opposed to punitive actions mirrowing the behaviours of many ex partners out there, who have yet to accept the marriage is over.  I look forward to looking at next years accounts.

The leader that was in place for 70 years did not ‘lead’ anyone – she took on a role following the death of her father in her mid 20s and stayed in post until her passing a couple of weeks ago.  The Queen was liked and was not outwardly offensive to anyone publicly.  The role is always as reported as being non political, but the weekly meeting between Monarch and Prime Minister suggest otherwise, as over these years certain laws do not require the Royal Family to comply or report on. E.g. equal opportunities and environmental legislation are just two of many. I would respectfully suggest that both of those posts protect each other.

The majority of Royal supporters are of pensionable age.  The statistics show a reduction further down the age ranges.  That is another red flag that the men in grey suits in the palaces, are choosing to ignore.  I suspect the majority, of them are in the same age range as most Royal supporters.

As I have stated above, a range of comments from a number of publications commenting on this early stage of King Charles reign.  It is not going so well, and it seems that the façade of an affable Prince now King, was indeed a façade.  The yearning to be King all these years, is like a genie now let out of its bottle, and if the odd report we have seen over the years are true, then the public is just beginning to see what staff have seen and had to work with for decades.  It does not bode well.

The 2nd in Line has been told from day one that he will be a King one day, and as a result, there has been no preparation in terms of competence but rather a list of the people they will meet one day, and places to visit, and the standard phrases and smiles and handshakes and how to pose for professional photos etc. If you look at the examples of how The Queen supposedly demonstrated her impact over 70 years, as reported in UK publications in the last two weeks or so, you can guess how William and all previous heirs were ‘prepared for the top post’.  If modern day news publications can only come of with a list of tasks, as opposed to how doing any of those things, actually made a difference, it is both sad and shameful.

It has been reported that King Charles has everything done for him, and it is more than obvious William has been prepared the same way.  There are no completed projects from the Prince and Princess of Wales over a 20 year period, therefore it is extremely unlikely that there will any difference if the Prince ever makes it to the throne.

History of UK Monarchy has many examples of the entitled ones who became a Monarch whose impact on the country was dependant on their personal interests and luck. The majority of those who caused the Monarch’s a headache, were the ones who had independent thought, and who travelled widely and as a result gained wider experiences of what life had to offer people.  The Spares, as the Royalists liked to call them, were the ones who were painted in a negative light, but looking at them as a whole, I think they were better prepared for leadership, but simply because of birth order, they were used to do a variety of things, that the Monarchs either did not know how, or believed it was beneath them to get involved in such matters. Many Spares led sad lives in comparison to the lives they could have led, if not for fragile egos of those higher in the Line of Succession.

Just like large corporations, the style and the output of the UK Monarchy over their 1000+ years history, has been dictated by the style and output of the Monarch.  Right now, UK Monarchy is on life support.  UK Government is in a similar position.  We have had 3 unelected leaders in 3 years.  Leaders elected from within their own ‘club’ but no member of the public has any voting rights.  These two groups, along with other societal groups I have mentioned in previous podcasts, all protect each other, and that is how they have managed to remain in place, operating the way that they do.  Using the rotting fish analogy,  we will continue to be served rotting fish, until we look at the cause of the regular decay and its cause.  Pretty soon, there will be no fish and the general public will have a say on how the nation can move forward.


I will end this podcast and article with a few words from James Baldwin, who most listeners of this podcast channel know of in detail.  For anyone else, who is unsure, we have lots of information in recent podcasts, and articles with a variety of web links for reference sources, but in summary he was a very civil rights activists, and an author and a super orator. Lived in the USA and Paris France, and then returned to his home in the USA.

The following quote sums up the UK Monarchy and its views of leadership in an accurate way.  I personally feel that this quote, applies even more to the next in Line of Succession.



Ivy Barrow




Elizabeth II’s legacy: How the Queen changed Britain – New Statesman

The Queen: What Legacy Did Her Reign Leave For Women? | Glamour UK (

Queen Elizabeth II touched lives for 70 years in ways big and small – The Washington Post

The Fish Rots from the Head (

A Fish Rots From the Head Down (a Note to the Sales Leader) (

The Fish Stinks from the Head: How You Can Fix It – KeyeStrategies

Rot Starts at the Top in Trees and Business – System100™

The Guardian view on government drift: the rot starts at the top | Editorial | The Guardian

There’s every reason to argue that it’s time to abolish the Monarchy. Britain can do so much better | British Politics and Policy at LSE

What Would Happen to Royal Family If Britain Abolished Monarchy (

Abolishing the monarchy is an important step towards building a fairer society | The Independent

Norway’s parliament votes over the abolishment of the monarchy – Royal Central

King Charles Has a Rocky Start and Here’s What’s Gone Wrong So Far (

Queen Elizabeth’s Passing Could Push Some Countries to Alter Their Ties to the British Monarchy – News Headlines (