Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Kings


About two years ago, Measure of Doubt poked some fun at the then impending nuptials of Kate and Wills, or “Mr. and Mrs. Fancypants” as they’re known to you and me. Now it seems they’ve dropped a kid, an unfortunate young man who faces a life of perpetual surveillance and preordination. He will go to Eton. He will serve in the armed forces. He will attend innumerable, tedious public events. He will be king one day (probably around his sixtieth birthday), assuming everything is still intact by then. Want an argument against the monarchy? Here’s one: it’s cruel to the people in it. It commits them to a choiceness life of ceremonial duty. Monarchists call this “service” and gush about its inherent dignity. I call it indentured servitude. 

So there he is. George Alexander Louis. He’ll be George VII some day, but in the interim, with a name like that (its acronym is GAL, for one thing), he’ll be getting the crap kicked out of him at recess like the rest of us did. Or he would, except that his SAS sniper team might have something to say about that. 

Okay, I kinda like these ones, this royal couple. I'll bet Kate's bridal shower was a hoot. ("Awww...it's so cute – it's the Falkland Islands!" "If you don't want them, you can always return them." "No, he'll love them!") Still,  I reflect that I like them in the way that I like any celebrity couple. Their highly performative public personas may not be reflective of the actual people underneath. And let’s face it, the interest in them and their baby is not much different in kind than that shown for other celebrity couples and their babies. It’s a wonder they don’t sell pictures to People for a couple of million bucks. 

Even in the UK enthusiasm for the monarchy is on the wane and in some other Commonwealth Realms the whole creaky edifice seems ready to come down. The monarchy persists in Canada not because of genuine affection for it (polls show vast indifference), nor because most Canadians feel it plays an important constitutional role in our country, because most Canadians have very little idea how their own government works. It persists for the same reason that suspicious looking mole is still on the middle of your back – you don’t think about it much and it’s too much trouble to get it snipped.

Canada’s road to independence lasted more than a century. It took a long time for us to discard the apparatus of colonial rule. It went bit by bit, and I'm convinced that certain bits of it remain. For all intents and purposes our head-of-state is determined by a law passed in the UK three centuries ago. And regardless of all the pretense about Elizabeth being “the Queen of Canada” to us, the fact remains that we have a foreign Queen, an English Queen. That too is a vestigial remnant of colonial subordination. 

The monarchy is anti-democratic. It is anti-meritocratic. It is cruel to the people in it.  Its history consists of centuries of unrelenting violence and is not something about which anyone should take pride. Against all that, such matters as “tradition” and the fact that they seem like decent people – or at least most of them do – counts for little. Get rid of it. Let its abolition be the final stage in Canadian independence – the stage where we free of our national spirit from centuries of colonial inferiority.

2 comments:

Graham Broad said...

This early update brought to you by the cutest wittle baby in the world!

DPoisson said...

Hi Graham,

I tried to post on here before... it was a wonderful post about how I agreed with everything you said about the awfulness of the monarchy and its continued presence in Canada and the commonwealth.

I differed on one thought, though. That was - why do you think that there is a shift away from monarchist sympathies in Canada?

In my limited experience I've found it to be the opposite. Friends and co-workers who never showed any interest in the monarchy were gaga over that poor royal child. I'm worried that with all this hoopla... the wedding, the baby, that people are becoming more enamoured with the institution... I hope that is not the case!