Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Real Reason the Royal Baby is Important

 
 
I have to admit that I'm probably more pleased than most people at the birth of the royal son to Wills and Kate.... to a point where a dear friend of mine accuses me of "fetishism" on the subject. Possibly. But.

Let me 'splain why the birth of Prince William's son is so important. Yes, they're pretty people. Yes, they're absurdly wealthy. Yes, they're absurdly privileged. Yes, the child will grow up surrounded by the best of everything and eventually become head of a country by reason only of his birth to the right parents. He could be a complete dolt and still be King, like some of his ancestors (Edward VIII, George IV, Henry VI... ) And on some fundamental level that ain't right, to an American. "No more kings!" Or: "Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!" - Dennis the Anarcho-Syndicalist Communist

Monarchy is the natural form of human governance: the kingless American system is, historically speaking, still an innovation. But history has allowed it to supersede monarchism, in most places. And this is a good thing.

This century is littered with worthless ex-kings out of a job and the ruins of former royal houses; most of those that remain are eminently disposable. But the British did it right. By allowing "a Republic to grow under the skirts of the Monarchy," they kept the pomp and dignity of a royal family while delegating real power to the representatives of the people and keeping the monarch out of politics. Since royal pomp is carried out by what is essentially a family of trained actors and celebrities, it means that they can represent the nation as such and let the governors do their job largely undistracted by the timewasting need to perform stately ceremony, such as breaking ground for new buildings or dedicating monuments. And it's not a job without its hazards--as those of us who still moodily mourn the late Princess of Wales are reminded.

But more importantly the British can separate loyalty to the state from loyalty to particular political personages. You can really, really hate the Prime Minister and the party in power and still be loyal to the Monarchy, and thus the nation.... the maintenance of a working democracy requires legitimizing the loyal opposition (do  you hear me, Mr. Obama?) and this mechanism allows that.

The American system is ours, and I will defend it. But I will admit that the Brits have one advantage: when a prime minister gets caught with hand in cookie jar, he gets fired. He can't wrap himself in the mantle of being the Head of State to protect himself or necessarily portray his political enemies as fundamentally disloyal to the State instead of just opposed to him.   I remember when Clinton was impeached--how a lot of people called the impeaching congressmen "seditionists" and "traitors".... not to mention those strongly opposed to our current President have been portrayed as unpatriotic or worse. Ahem.

This doesn't happen in the UK (or usually not).

To us, impeachment of a bad President is a national tragedy. To them, firing of a PM is business as usual. So the newborn boy will serve a useful function: his job one day will be "wearing the flag" so some scoundrel can't "wrap himself in it." The child will thus eventually help to keep his people free by making it easier to rid Britain of a potential tyrant in power, should that be necessary.

The birth of this boy, who God grant will have a Roman numeral after his first name someday, is thus not merely the birth of a baby (although it is that too). It's a symbol of continuity, a way for the British people (who are much more restrained than we are) to express the love of their nation and traditions in the way we do every Fourth of July. Let's grant them their happiness; as lovers of democracy, it's OK for us to be happy too. The birth of this baby boy is a GOOD thing. God bless him and God Save the Queen!

ADDENDUM:  Make that God Bless George Alexander Louis, Prince of Cambridge! (And the future George VII--or perhaps George VIII depending on what his grandfather does....)

2 comments:

  1. God save the queen! I quite agree with you about Britain's system compared to ours. And personally I love all the pomp and traditions of the monarchy!

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  2. Quick explanation as to the last comment.... Prince Charles (AKA Upchuck, of the law firm of Upchuck and Di) has hinted he might take the name George VII instead of Charles III. Who knows?

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