Sunday, July 22, 2007

Royalty, to the trash bin NOW

In September of 1982 I was home on leave in Birch Run, Michigan taking some time before heading overseas for four years. My parents were both at work so I answered the doorbell one sunny midmorning. It was a saleswoman. Immediately, she started gushing excitedly about the marriage of Prince Charles to Diana and that the result of that union had just yielded another little royal named William.

I cocked my head and grinned; I actually felt embarrassed for her. She was trying to sell me some kind of commemorative plaque or chinaware or something like that revolving around this cockamamie British royalty BS and I was having none of it. She noticed the wry unconvinced look on my face and stopped talking. She knew she’d run into a definite “no sale” and just asked me if my wife was home.

I told her, “Sure, my wife is here, but she’s from the Philippines and doesn’t know a Prince Charles from a Fred.” So much for that, the young saleslady went on down to the next house to try her luck there.

Even before I ever much contemplated the notion of royalty I was dubious about it. Then, over the years, after considering it every so often when it would come up in the news, I eventually came to the conclusion that the idea of royalty is nonsensical. In fact, the more I know about them—the royals that is, and especially the British royals—the more I came to loathe their continued existence as an institution.

What upsets me more than the survival of modern European royalty is that much of my fellow citizenry continue to fawn over them, as if “these people” are worth even a moment of our attention and even less of our respect.

My fellow Americans, (and fellow commoners!) do you understand how “these people” came to claim these ridiculous titles such as king, queen, prince, princess, duke, earl, duchess, ad nauseum? Well, I’ll tell you. They are nothing more than an invention; a ruse foisted upon our European “peasant” ancestors to convince them that “some people” were anointed by God to be their rulers and betters.

Does it not anger you then that people would continue to hang onto these kinds of obsolete notions? Americans especially should reject this crap, but for the most part, we don’t. It seems like we can't wait to scrape, bow and curtsy all along with the rest of the mindless fools everywhere who kowtow to these pretenders.

It’s pathetic when you think about it. The very idea of royalty is that God, through his divine intervention, caused certain bloodlines to be superior to others. This was rule by divine right—to be “God’s chosen,” so to speak. You would think that a secular Europe would stop lending credibility to this archaic convention, but they don’t. In fact, they seem to embrace it more than ever.

In America we fought a war 200 years ago not just for independence, but also to rid ourselves of idiotic concepts like “the divine right of kings.” My ancestors from Scotland and Ireland left the Old World to escape European heavy-handedness, and much of the excesses from which they escaped were due to their being stuck as “subjects” of a monarch and his royal henchmen, all generally titled as “Sir So-and-So.”

Being a subject meant being “subject to” the capricious whims of some duke or earl, all “sirs” mind you, and all due to the mistaken notion that these people are divinely better than people without the “correct” bloodlines. Almost 300 years ago my Scottish immigrant ancestors finally just said, “kiss my arse” to that idea and left all that garbage behind; and I agree with that sentiment every bit as much today.

A “subject” is someone who owes allegiance to a king or queen, not necessarily to a country, not to freedom, not to a constitution, but to a flesh-and-blood person. That is old-fashioned archaic malarkey and yet the Brits still officially talk about owing allegiance to the Queen. Even our Canadian cousins to the north still consider themselves her highness’ “subjects.” If they can stomach such a thing then fine, but for Americans to continue to worry about how to correctly curtsy or bow to Queen Elizabeth is a nauseating thing for me to watch.

Speaking of the Queen, she came across the pond to “the colonies” not long ago, and much of the talk on the news was of the various foul-ups committed by just about any “crass” American who came within spitting distance of the old girl. I think Nancy Pelosi made a supposed booboo when she reached out and shook QE’s hand without the queen having proffered hers first. Oh my word! And when President Bush made another of his continuous speechifying faux pas and then turned and winked at the queen, from the reaction you’d of thought he’d just asked her out for a date. Unforgivable! I could hardly stand to watch and listen to any of that idiotic drivel and mostly didn’t.

I had the opportunity the other day to speak to an expatriate Englishman on this very topic. Mark is his name, and with his deeply tanned, well-muscled sleek physique combined with his long sun-streaked brown hair, he looks more like a surfer from Southern California than a Limey. He’s a good fellow and I thought I’d ask him how he and his “mates” feel these days about the British aristocracy.

Basically, he had nothing to say about the royals at all, and certainly nothing good to say about them. Mark claims that most of the people he knows back in the UK, including him, think it a complete waste of government money. He reminded me that there’s a heck of a lot more to the royal lineages than just the queen and the princes. He reminded me that the whole country is pocked full of these royal bastards, as he referred to them.

I asked him, “Why do you guys put with it? I mean, think about it Mark, these arrogant jerks have the gall to call someone not of their bloodline to be MERE commoners! Doesn’t that irritate you that they would dare to continue to call people COMMONERS? I mean for chrissakes, that’s the height of arrogance, don’t you think?”

“Oh yah, a lot of us have had it with them. But what can you do? And truthfully, I just don’t think of it all that much. I just ignore them.”

I yielded a little saying, “I have to say that I DO think it’s a good thing that Harry and William are serving in your military, but it almost seems like they do it more out of some kind of guilt complex or because its expected of them. I just wish some of OUR rich boys would find it within themselves to serve, but we haven’t had rich people like that since World War Two. So GOOD for the princes!”

Concerning the royals, for the most part what I got from English Mark was indifference, as if he has better things to worry about. Still, considering how little he cares about the queen, a woman he’s supposed to be pledged to as a citizen of England, his blasé attitude says a lot. It tells me that if most of the “commoners” of the UK feel as he does then perhaps the future of British royalty IS very much in question.

If I were British, I’d demand the immediate dismantlement of all things royal. I would consign its trappings to the trash heap of history. At the very least I'd consign them all to a musty old museum, the perfect place for old irrelevant things.


KA said...

They pledge allegiance to a queen, we pledge allegiance to a flag. Both are just symbols. We also worship Paris Hilton and her ilk.

PhilippinesPhil said...

You make a very weird argument Katana; I guess you were in a hurry or something. Our flag is definitely a symbol, one that has been ruled legal to burn, or spit on, or to do whatever one would like to it in order to "express" oneself. We spend no national treasure on protecting it. And comparing "Old Glory" to Paris Hilton has got to be the strangest comparison I've ever seen made. I don't know anyone who "worships" a US flag, although they do respect it and venerate the freedom it represents and blood spilt keeping us free; and I doubt if anyone actually worships Hilton either.

My problem isn't just with the queen; its with the whole concept of why they even have a royal lineage. Maybe you didn't really read my post. Do you think God appointed certain family lines as divine? Because that's what an aristocracy is all about. These people were originally declared superior to the rest of us based on divinity.

So, getting back to your "throw away" comment, this isn't just about symbols, its about an obsolete artificially declared line of supposedly superior people who attain their superiority merely by being born. The only good thing about the French Revolution is that "the masses" finally decided that royals were indeed a royal pain in the ass and went about the process of cutting off all their bogus heads. Vive la France! (Of course, they screwed that up too and eventually ended up with Napoleon and crew...)

Anonymous said...

The most unfortunate thing about the notion of Royalty is the manner in which the Spanish Conquerers inflicted this concept upon their erstwhile colonies. Every Spaniard residing abroad considered himself a "Hidalgo"--a gentleman-- far superior to the "indios", and contemptous of anything that smacked of manual labor. Ironically, rather than percipitating a violent revolt, this notion was absorbed and exagerated by those upon whom it was inflicted, and is the root, I think, of the difficulty most former Spanish colonies to adapt to modern times. The Church, in the Spanish milieu, was simply another form of Royalty. Sorry, Im kinda windy today...

KA said...

I was comparing paris hilton to royalty - not the flag... the flag is much prettier.

The crown are symbols. how many people do you know would be willing to "fight" for a flag. not fight, like soldiers, but get in a bar fight because someone disrespects the flag? How many people would feel the urge to bludgeon a protestor for their treatment of a peice of cloth? or cry when it is raised? It's a symbol. That's what the Queen is... a symbolic position. Unfortunately, she gets federal funding... that ticks me off, but still. Symbols have their place, their relevance, their importance.

No one believes that royalty or aristocracy are there because "god" put them there no more than we believe that it was god's will that the US stretch to the pacific.

In a perfect world, your quality of life, success, fame and privilege wouldnt come from your birth, but from your hard work, right? So here's where paris hilton comes in. Paris, the kennedy's, the Waltons,Bush's, Clintons, the Gates', Barrymores etc. They attain fame and fortune because they had the right set of parents. They might not be "divine" but they sure are considered "superior". So much so that when one of these genius's shows up at a party it overshadows real news. These people are appointed by us, the consumers, who tune in every time one of those idiots gets high, drinks, or gets in a damn car accident. As a society we've deemed certain special peoples more important than an entire Gulf war ... I do consider anyone who can live off their inheritance as a type of aristocracy.

These "royalty" are rich but they certainly don't consider themselves "divine". I went to school with many of them for a short time... humans like you and me (one's now a queen of an Asian country.). They don't think their line is touched by the hand of god but they do have money and enjoy the privilege of upper-class frivolity.

Should the HRH get federal funding? no. Then again, I think very few thngs should get federal funding (cos I dont want my taxes to go to certain organizations)However, doing away with them entirely might become as contraversial as us getting rid of one of our symbols.

Then, i have my personal bias... i think the young princes william and harry are a generation of good looking princes. Usually their ass-ugly. I wanna see what their kidslook like... and i wonder how many generations itwill take before they have another handsome generation.

Now sleeptime.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Mac2, of course you are right that the Spanish, just as all the Europeans under monarchies, used the concept of divine right as an excuse to use and abuse the indigenous people of their colonies. Racism was another problem. Americans were very guilty of that one right here during their 50 years of rule in the Philippines.

As for Katana, there seems to be no hope for you girl ...grin... You partly made my point that these royals are just folk like you and me, or maybe just like you. Thanks for making that for me by the way.

So, with the knowledge that their "titles" are bullshit and not divine, why then would you give them any credit for it? Knowing that the history of their existence is all an elaborate con, why would you tolerate someone continuing the pretense?

Paris Hilton is a joke to most Americans, even to you I suspect. To me, Princes William and Harry are just as much of a joke. Diana started screwing around on Charley almost immediately, just as he did on her with Camilla. (and shame on me for knowing that!) Neither of "his boys" come from his loins. Now that's the biggest joke. Royals my ass!

The average Englander despises these jerks even more than I do, and the irony is that the European aristocracy is as much "inbred" as anyone you'd find in the hollars and hills of the deepest Ozarks. (Play here the "dueling banjos" music from the movie "Deliverance.)

These people running around and calling themselves Duke or Earl or Duchess--what pretense, what a sham! Your obviously an intelligent woman; I guess thats why I find your defense of royalty so puzzling.

Now, if you just want to argue that Harry is a hotty; okay, I'll grant you that (probably coz his real daddy isn't a royal!). But let me get this straight...if the royals were all ugly THEN you would agree with me? Am I catching your drift?

I'm beginning to think you're just pulling my chain Kat...

Ed said...

I think I'm at an earlier stage of Royal hating that you are. Though I think they are obsolete and nutty, I don't "loathe" them as you said. But I think if I lived in England, I might raise a little cane too and call for their dismanteling. Good post.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yup, nutty is a good word for them. I don't think most Americans realize how much money is spent on them over there, and how comprehensive the English involvement is in continuing the charade. Over there, its not some "quaint" frivolity, its serious "business." I guess they are hesitant to let go of a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, no matter how ridiculous it is.

Much of my dislike for things royal goes back to the hanging of my great great great grandfather, Samuel Lount, in Toronto in 1838. Canadian loyalists (or royalists) hung this good Quaker man merely for leading a demonstration against England's decision to blow off the results of a local election, installing their own people instead. What they did to him and his family was unjust and I've never quite forgiven them for it. Thus, my "loathing..." Although, I guess I could also thank them for it, albeit with gritted teeth, since it resulted in my great great grandmother marrying a Spear in Michigan and becoming an American.

Amadeo said...

Let me look for the version of Duelin' Banjos that I have and come back and focus on the blue-blooded British royalty.

But I sense that the little nod and wink our own W gave after the date faux pas brought the entire festivity down to earth for a while. And on national TV, too. HeHeHe, as W would snicker.

KA said...

Really, I just think prince harry is a fox. I think they're a great soap opera. Thats why I like them. no other reason.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yeah, Harry and William both seem like a couple of good eggs. I get the feeling that both of them would just as soon rid themselves of all this "royal nonsense" as well.