A royal pain in the budget?

Ed Smith
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This is a royal week, to be sure. William and Kate seem to have made a conquest of Canada, which is nice.

They seem to be an engaging couple. Right down to earth, they are. Ordinary folks, same as you and me. Until, that is, you remember you’re not allowed to touch them without permission, and you have to address them as “Your Royal Highness.”

Truth is, they’re about as ordinary as moon rocks. You and I, on the other hand, are the very definition of ordinary. Anyone at all can speak to us, or hug us, without having prior approval. That’s sort of nice, too.

I have to admit to being ambivalent about royals. On the one hand, those two do seem like decent people. I have always admired the Queen and her husband. But then there’s William’s father, Prince Chuck. He may be the epitome of all that’s best in British manhood, but if so, it’s awfully hard to see.

Today I was reading about the marriage of Monaco’s Prince Albert. He’s the son of Grace Kelly who, at the height of her Hollywood career, married his father, Prince Rainier, in a true fairytale wedding. She was later killed in a car accident in Monaco.

Grace Kelly was Hollywood royalty, in my opinion, second only to Audrey Hepburn in grace and beauty. Who can forget that scene in the film “High Society” with Bing Crosby in which they sang “True Love” while sitting together in a rowboat?

Albert isn’t what most of us would regard as a prince of a man. He’s fathered at least two illegitimate children, which is not unusual in this day and age, but for a prince? It might be that the ladies concerned found it difficult to say no to the son of the ruling monarch, whether they wanted to or not.

On the other hand, they might have really loved him. Right! He’s such a handsome dude. Right!

Anyway, good Prince Albert has married a South African Olympic swimmer. She’s an absolute knockout. When she’s standing next to the prince, the couple looks something like Miss America standing beside Oscar the grouch. But looks are not important, are they? Albert may be a prince of a man.

What I’m taking a long time to get to is the rumours that have been circulating around that particular nuptial event. It’s been said that when she discovered a few days before the wedding that the prince had yet another illegitimate child, the soon-to-be Mrs. Prince tried to vacate the premises. She tried to run away, b’y.

What happened to get her back is unclear, as you might expect it would be when the monarchy was involved. The reports of the wedding itself said that she was visibly moved during the ceremony and tears were seen on her cheeks — perhaps I should say face.

My question is, and it might be yours, what was she crying about?

Role models

You see what I mean about being ambivalent concerning royals. Some of them seem like nice folks. Some of them are not exactly the role models you want for your children.

Apart from the individuals involved, the monarchy thing itself is another matter and here I’m ambivalent, too.

In a way, I’ve always respected that institution. I can see where it’s a unifying force in a country which encourages open debate among different groups and organizations, and even civil disobedience.

In a country such as England which saw the beginnings of modern democracy with its Magna Carta, the monarchy went from being the enemy of giving power to the people to being an important factor in the constitution.

The monarchy has held people together in times of crisis. While the king and queen might send their children to safety out of the country during the London blitz, they themselves refused to leave. On the other hand, it was Queen Victoria’s favourite grandson, Wilhelm, who became the infamous Kaiser Bill of the First World War. That wasn’t her fault, of course, but the connection between the two major warring nations is a bit close.

If I had been a court favourite and a confidante of the monarch of the day, I might have been a strong supporter of the throne and all who placed their royal bottoms on it.

Had I been a commoner in the streets of London or some far-off place out in the boondocks, I might be a little less eager to risk life and limb fighting for king and/or queen. My stomach would have turned a cartwheel or two having to agree that they were superior to me because of their royal blue blood or DNA makeup.

I would have believed strongly — and still do — that we were all created equal and would have had difficulty kissing anyone’s feet or, for that matter, anyone’s ring, to expand this line of thought into the religious domain.

Emotionally and politically, I’m with the American republic idea and probably would have, given the choice, fought in the rebellion. At the same time, I don’t think I favour separating Canada from the British monarchy. Too much history and political closeness to be severed so completely.

I know the symbolism of the monarchy cost us an arm and a leg, but, given the billions we spend on leaky submarines and already out-of-date fighter planes, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

Apart from the added expense of maintaining a governor general and a few lieutenant governors, what does it cost us? When one considers the additional billions we spent on a gun control program that seems destined for the scrap heap, keeping those people around to remind us of our past and help keep our future stable doesn’t seem that extreme financially.

I can think of things I’d rather cut first.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in

Springdale. His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Royal Highness

Geographic location: Canada, Hollywood, Monaco Miss America London England

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Recent comments

    July 10, 2011 - 07:28

    Wake up Ed. There are many nice people around and many more that are not suitable role models. Are you therefore ambivalent about everyone, or just Royals. Seems to me you are just trying to hide behind being an anti-royalist.