When I was a child I remember every morning at school we said the morning prayer and then sang ‘God Save our Queen”. As a child I didn’t really understand why it mattered and before I was old enough to figure it out the protocol changed.’ God Save the Queen’ was replaced with ‘O Canada’ and life went on.
Throughout my youth I watched news coverage of royal addresses, royal visits abroad, and it was fascinating to see these larger than life (or so I thought) people, navigating life as ‘Royals’. Gold carriages, sparkling jewels, and beautiful gowns; the stuff fairy tales are made of. I was in awe of these special people. Then I grew up, and saw reality. These were just normal people who’d been unfortunate enough to be born into royalty.
There was a time when the power of the monarchy was influential. They had a ‘say’ on matters of politics, and a direct impact on society. They were admired and respected. The Queen of England could appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister, any minister actually. And she alone had the power to dissolve Parliament, or declare war on any other country. That is no longer the case today. In fact, the role of the monarch holds very little power today, especially in Canada, and the Queens’ powers for the most part, are ceremonial. (guess that’s why we stopped singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in school?)
And it’s a lucky thing her responsibilities have been relieved in that regard because her days are filled enough with internal family shenanigans. Raised in an ice castle and shielded from real people and the real world how can we expect this monarchy to understand our lives? And yet they find themselves struggling with real life hardships; marital woes, infidelity, negative publicity. (How common of them!)
I think the biggest challenge of being a Royal has to be the monarchys’ control of their personal lives. Protocol dictates every aspect of their lives; how they dress, what and where they eat, who they marry, even the naming of their children. And if that isn’t enough they have to endure the constant and complete invasion of their privacy. Small wonder Harry and Megan seek to leave the Royal life behind. Seems even the Royals don’t see themselves as necessary to the British public any more. (And who wouldn’t crave ‘normal’ and strive to break out of this cocoon?)
Charles loves Camilla, he always did, but she wasn’t good enough for ‘Royal Standards’, so he was forced to marry sweet innocent and pure, Diana…and it destroyed both their lives. So much for royal protocol. At the end of the day Charles got to be with Camilla, where he should’ve been all along. And Diana found her escape, sadly, in a tragic death. It’s a miracle those two sons aren’t more screwed up than they are, then again, who knows how they really are. So much is covered up to protect the precious royal image.
Over the decades the public has been granted a closer look at the Royals and we are all surprised and relieved, to find they’re every bit as normal as we are. They speak out and rebel, they fight for their right to live their life (some of them) their way. They have marital issues, and they have character flaws (oh no!) And over time their effect on society and political circles has waned, and rightly so. They are after all, just figureheads. Expensive figureheads. And one has to wonder if the value of the monarchy is worth the cost. No longer do they wield political influence. In fact, other than providing the public with soap opera-like entertainment, they have little positive impact on society (and I know there are countless royal-watchers out there who would challenge me on this) British taxpayers support the royal family through a “sovereign grant” and the costs have never been higher than they are now. Are they really worth it? (Where’s the bang for your buck?)
At the end of the day I feel really sorry for those born into these lives of servitude, because that’s all they are; servants, pawns in a game of thrones. On the upside, they have a beautiful home, wardrobe, and an endless supply of money. On the downside, they have a monotonous trail of ribbon cutting ceremonies, library dedications, and boring state functions to attend in the name of ‘duty’. Surely there are days when they’d like to take the kids to McDonald’s or a movie without a team of Paparazzi hiding in the shadows, snapping photos. And I suspect there are days they’d like nothing better than to saunter down to their local variety store in torn jeans, messy hair and no make-up, to buy a bag of potato chips, but they can’t. Because protocol dictates that they dress conservatively and hide in the midst of their security entourage.
The onerous tasks of ‘Royal duty’ take a heavy toll on the lives of otherwise normal people, and their financial burden on society is unfair and unnecessary. I wouldn’t wish the burden of royalty on anyone because the financial perks simply don’t make it worth while. Plus the crown is really heavy…..that’s why I gave it up.