Good morning, Stuart. Nicely written piece, but I’m afraid you rather missed the point, old chap. Maybe it’s my fault for not being clearer.
The fatal flaw — at least in this republican mind – in the monarchy is the fundamentally anti-democratic nature of hereditary entitlement. It goes against the notions of representative government and the sovereignty of the people, not to mention the basics of meritocracy.
Of course, the British Royal Family and its claim to rule by divine right is underpinned by the whole hereditary class system that has defined British society for centuries.
The founders’ decision to pluck the Royal flower from atop the fetid heap of the aristocracy and leave the rest in England was a wise move, but it didn’t eliminate the essential error of importing a foreign monarch into our system of government.
My own English roots run deep. Three of my grandparents emigrated here from England and the fourth was a colonial from New Zealand who fought for King and Empire in the Great War and found his way here after marrying his war bride.
They had a direct connection with England and its monarch. I don’t. And neither do my children or grandchildren. The disinterest of the current and soon-to-come generations is the key that will likely lead to the irrelevance of the Royals in the lives of Canadians and the decision to finally cut all colonial ties.
Your suggestion that I attempted to paint the whole family with the tarred bush of Andrew misses the mark. His is just the latest and most egregious example of Royal misbehavior and a newsy entry into the question of the monarchy.
I didn’t mention the serial philandering of Prince Philp, Charles’ all-but-public affair with Camilla Parker Bowles while still married to Diana, the bizarre indiscretions of his sister Anne with Camilla’s husband Andrew Parker Bowles, or the reportedly lusty oats sowing of William and Harry.
And that’s not to mention the wild-child younger sister of the Queen, Princess Margaret.
The fact that Elizabeth seems to rise above it all, as a dignified, discreet and decent example of English reserve and Royal solemnity likely has much to do with Canadians’ willingness to just ignore whole thing.
As for the military swearing an oath to the Queen, states have always used symbols – kings, flags, gods – to convince young men (and these days, young women) to take up arms and kill or be killed on various battlefields.
But I would venture that the cream of British and colonial youth who went over the top at the Somme did so for the lads beside them in the trench and not for some highfalutin notion of king and empire.
Soldiers indeed swear an oath to the head of state. But there are lots of ways to acquire one of those. Some are elected directly, like France. Some are elected by a parliament, like Germany and Italy. Some are appointed by the government, like Canada.
A head of state is a useful symbol for a nation, often ceremonial and symbolic. A dignified, non-political personification. But also, something of a check on potential abuses by the government in power.
When Canada eventually gets down to the complex and difficult work of amending the Constitution, it could do worse than keeping the current governor-general process and just eliminating reference to the British monarchy.
The GG already has a perfectly suitable seat of government at Rideau Hall.
I was there once, at a reception following a journalism award presentation. I clearly recall sitting with a colleague on a luxurious sofa, wearing a rented tuxedo, drinking $200 cognac and listening to an assistant deputy minister play Chopin on Glen Gould’s piano. “It doesn’t get much better than this for a working-class kid from Burnaby,” I remember thinking at the time.
Anyhow, that’s pretty much all I want to say on the topic of the Royals. I’m happy to just watch as they slip into irrelevance and we can observe their celebrity antics like so many Kardashians.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
by Roy Wood