Will the House of Windsor… fade to black?
As a life-long anti-monarchist, I must admit some delight in the recent discomfiture visited on Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, by his alleged trysts with a teenaged sex slave provided by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
One of my earliest memories is standing on a suburban Vancouver street corner with my mother, an ardent monarchist, waving a tiny Red Ensign as a police-escorted caravan of limos sped past. The windows were darkened, but apparently it was the Queen’s more interesting sister, Margaret, in town to help BC celebrate its centennial in 1958.
I didn’t understand the excitement. And a few years later I began grappling with the contradiction between democratic ideals and the fact that I couldn’t grow up to be king because I wasn’t born into the right family.
This confusion led fairly quickly to a bedrock conviction that being subject to a gang of hereditarily entitled toffs from another country just wasn’t on.
More recently, however, it’s becoming clear that the monarchy really doesn’t matter very much and that within my children’s lifetimes it will probably be lost to the slagheap of history.
But back to Randy Andy.
Given that the Queen/King of England remains nominally the sovereign of our country, two questions arise: “Where does this reprobate fall in the line of Royal succession? Could he ever become King of Canada?”
Fortunately, it would take a Royal tragedy beyond Shakespearian proportions for Andrew to ascend to the throne.
When he was born, he was second in line, behind the Queen’s first born, Prince Charles. But through time and the arcane rules of succession, Andrew has dropped to eighth in the pecking order behind the progeny and grandchildren of Charles.
Next comes Prince William, the prematurely balding first-born son of Charles and the tragic Princess Diana, and husband of the vivacious Kate Middleton.
(There is a school of thought that Queen Elizabeth might abdicate in the next few years and appoint the popular William to replace her, bypassing the fusty and wildly unpopular Charles. The palace, of course, denies any such plot is in the works.)
Then come William and Kate’s three kids, George, 6, Charlotte, 4, and Louis, 1.
Coming it at number six is Elizabeth’s other grandson, Harry, the ginger-haired husband of toothsome American TV star Meagan Markle. Their son, Archie, is seventh in line.
Only then, way down at number eight, do we find Andrew. So, it seems a safe bet that he can continue to pursue his hobbies without fear of having to don the crown. And Canadians can breathe a sigh.
And it’s likely that a sigh or a yawn is all we’ll muster. Anti-monarchy ardour is at a low ebb these days. Even though most of us would just as soon see the monarchy stay in England and leave us alone, we really don’t care very much.
An Ispos poll at the end of 2016 found that more than half of Canadians think that when Elizabeth dies, the country should cut ties with the monarchy. About 61 per cent believe that the Queen and Royal Family should not have any formal role in Canadian society, as “the Royals are simply celebrities and nothing more.”
But, University of Waterloo poli-sci professor Emmett Macfarlane told Global News that even though Canadians aren’t crazy about the Royals, “I think if you ask people where this lines up on their list of priorities, or how important this is relative to things like our own domestic politics or issues such as health care or education, I suspect it’s really low on the list.”
The gradual waning of a Royal presence has been going on for decades.
One could argue it officially started with the replacement of the Red Ensign with Canada’s own Maple Leaf flag in 1965.
About a decade later then-PM Pierre Trudeau performed his purposefully disrespectful pirouette behind the back of the Queen, who was busily shaking hands in a receiving line.
Even the Royal face on our currency is slowly going away. She remains on our coins, but has been replaced by former prime ministers on all the folding money except the twenty.
There seems little reason to believe that the gradual erosion of Royal presence in Canada won’t continue, particularly after Elizabeth dies and passes the orb and sceptre to Charles or William or whomever.
(That could take a while, of course. The female Windsor’s are a hardy breed. The Queen Mother lived to 101 and, according to The Independent, Elizabeth, 94, follows the same daily regimen that begins with a stiff Dubonnet and gin in the late morning, wine with lunch, a martini before dinner and champagne with the evening meal.)
Once the succession occurs, let’s hope that governments at all levels simply take down the ubiquitous portraits of the Queen and not replace them. Or perhaps put up pictures of the Canadian Governor General.
Maybe her image on our coins can be replaced by profiles of Canadian artists or scientists or humanitarians.
And over a few decades perhaps a national consensus will emerge to allow a constitutional amendment to remove English royals completely from the fabric of the country.