On Dec. 10, 1936, King Edward VIII of England abdicated during a constitutional crisis. His love for Wallis Simpson was greater than his love to be monarch without her.
The constitutional crisis came about because she was a divorced American citizen, while he was titular head of the Church of England, where divorcees were not allowed to remarry while their divorced partner was alive. His brother became King George VI, succeeded on his death in 1952 by Queen Elizabeth II.
That little snippet of the long and quite often sordid history of English monarchy, whose families form the top echelon of British aristocracy, seems to be echoing today, just over 83 years afterwards. Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, with a snowball’s chance of succession to the throne, declared that he and his bride would “step back” from Royal duties. That’s a 2020 euphemism for abdication, and the monarch wasted little time in dealing with 2020’s version of a constitutional crisis.
Prince Harry was granted just about everything he and wife Meghan asked for in abdicating, and details are easily available as every media organization worldwide has “Royal Correspondents,” who usually present themselves as somewhat superior to mere journalists or commentators.
Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, with a snowball’s chance of succession to the throne, declared that he and his bride would “step back” from Royal duties. That’s a 2020 euphemism for abdication, and the monarch wasted little time in dealing with 2020’s version of a constitutional crisis.
We now live in the age of “Far too much information,” much different to 1936. Thanks to television and other media, shameless self-promoters like Oprah Winfrey, the Kardashians, and way too many others figure that we need to know everything about their lives, and everybody else’s, too. The present abdication is blamed on intrusion and the attitude of the U.K. media’s dealings with Meghan and Harry. Hopefully the Queen accepts the irony, that Harry was born into a monarchy which shamelessly thrives on media coverage, and Meghan was a television actress whose very livelihood depended on the very same.
Growing up in U.K., I vividly remember when all newspapers had repetitious front-page stories ad nauseam of the young Queen with fellow racehorse owners like the Aga Khan, and his playboy son Ali Khan. This “news” was sometimes interspersed with revelations about the latest suitor of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, and the monarchy was viewed as a somewhat humorously offbeat and outdated tourist attraction by forelock-knuckling serfs and peasants like me.
However, we knew our place in the U.K. “class” system, and were delighted when some working-class heroes eventually arrived to fill those front-pages. They were called The Beatles, and suddenly people with talent became news, replacing those from higher echelons; no doubt the 1960s counterculture and social revolution changed the world, and we’ve all evolved since then.
New polls indicate that over half of Canadians couldn’t give a hoot if Meghan and Harry immigrate to their country, but over three-quarters definitely object to paying necessary security expenses from the public purse.
Unfortunately, several media organizations seem to cater for the minority, and news-consumers will no doubt remain overburdened with post-abdication stories for years to come.