This came out in a conversation recently, even before the whole Kate+William brouhaha, and I can say I was almost treated like a troglodyte for being an anti-monarchist (and the only one I think) amongst monarchists. I actually was very surprised. I expected a few to be monarchists but I thought the strong monarchist movement was more of my parents’ generation than mine, or even younger people.But obviously I’m wrong.
I’ll back up a bit here. Canada is a sovereign nation. We have our independence; we have our own government. However, we are a commonwealth country, one of those countries that was once conquered by the great British Empire. Once called the British Commonwealth there are now 54 countries in this union. From Wikipedia: The member states co-operate within a framework of common values and goals as outlined in the Singapore Declaration. These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace. The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social, political and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status.
These supposed independent member states still seem to pay a lot of lip service to the British royalty. The queen’s head adorns Canada’s coins. We have a governor-general who represents the queen in Canada and actually is head of the military. And heaven and hell forbid if we actually still pay tithes to Great Britain. Even in the British Isles, the royalty is not the governing body because there is a parliament and a prime minister. To some, we’re probably still considered the “colonies” though that ended with confederation in 1867. Interestingly those former members of the Commonwealth who did not join in this web of goodwill, and most likely because of the extended obeisance, were many of the Arab or Middle Eastern countries. Some of them still have their own royalty.
So…back to Kate and William’s engagement. The media is already referring to her as a commoner, which means common people, the masses, the hoi polloi, or you and me. It means everyone who has not gained their position by blood, inherited it through some divine right. Family business is one thing but even new popes are voted upon, but royalty are not. I could be the stupidest bump on a log or even a murdering rapist and if my parents were kings and queens, then I too would be royalty. There were rumors, never substantiated, that Jack the Ripper was the Duke of Clarence at the time. However since Jack was never caught we can speculate forever.
What we have are people who are idolized and fawned over because they are royalty. And royalty these days are people who get to be so because mummy and daddy were. No working for the position, nor being elected to it. Just because their great great ancestor had a bigger army or poisoned more people makes them royalty forever. Wow. When someone names me royalty I’ll get to make my heirs royal and make their life hell (note Princess Diana’s unhappiness while she was alive) as they live up to royal expectations. There are a few hoops, even for the rich (unless you’re Paris Hilton).
Wallis Simpson, an American, a divorcee, a commoner, could only marry King Edward if he abdicated. Princess Di wasn’t a commoner but that didn’t save her. Didn’t help Fergie either. So the royal reigns have relaxed to let a “commoner” marry Prince Willy. Of course she’s a commoner in the millionaire model because some working class slob would probably not do. And she’s of a good line of obedient Christians attending the right church. I doubt William would be allowed to marry a Buddhist, Muslim or Wiccan. They live the high life but it’s not all fun.
My biggest beef: tons of money wasted on an obsolete dynasty that can still get all sorts of special treatment because they’re royal. “Ooh, I don’t have a life so I’ll submerge mine in these land-based gods.” Oh and their wedding, like Prince Chuck and Princess Di’s, it will cost millions and millions and the taxpayers will probably pick up a hefty tab for it, even if it will supposedly boost tourism, while many people won’t be able to pay their mortgages or keep their jobs in Britain’s down-turned economy. But don’t worry, William and Kate promise austerity. I’ll do the same if taxpayers want to pay for my wedding or my vacation too.
I should say I have two beefs. The second is that this is England’s royalty, not Canada’s. If we’re truly of our own governance and reconnaissance, then we shouldn’t owe anyone lip service. And just because the British were in parts of Canada (which was something completely different geographically) in the good ole days does not mean we owe them much over any other country that explored or settled in these lands. (Not that the French or the Spaniards didn’t have their play here too.) The native peoples of Canada might see that whole invasion and British rule thing through slightly different eyes as well.
Maybe if I lived in England I wouldn’t be an anti-monarchist but it makes no sense to keep someone else’s royalty as our own desperate attempt at dignity and venerability. If we truly need royalty in Canada, then let’s make me the queen, or hold a lottery. It’s as valid as saying someone else has blue blood and letting them interbreed to keep their blood pure. So what do I think of Kate and William’s engagement? Great. Wonderful. People should be happy but I’m not going to swoon over it, watch it or buy the souvenir napkins, just as I wouldn’t for our prime minister, any rock star or even a NASA astronaut’s wedding (the last being the most likely for me to buy into). Go get married but stop (to paraphrase past Prime Minister’s Trudeau’s words) getting the nation involved in the bedrooms of the royalty.