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Naylor: An American Monarchy

July 5, 2011


Well, the Royals are passing through.

The old debates about the constitutional place of the monarchy have sprung up once more.

The Irish weighed in, the Scots weighed in, the Indians weighed in and protesters in Quebec have weighed in, marking the couple as “parasites”. Heck, it seems everyone has a large opinion on what role the monarchy should have, if any.

While everyone has been pre-occupied by constitutional discourse, and the history, I have been focusing my eyes on the couple itself.

I don’t think the monarchist forces have cause for celebration. They have been treating the popularity of Will and Kate as if this was a generational Damascus road experience. The systemic arrogance of the monarchist groups in Canada after seeing the crowds for William and Kate will soon stop.

So will the moaning and griping from republicans that society has gone mad for liking the royals. It seems the only people who think that monarchy is now popular are republican activists and monarchist activists.

Soft republicans like myself realize that we haven’t changed for the royals, the royals have changed for us.

It all started with the release of The King’s Speech. For the first time in it’s entire history, the British monarchy was actually shoring up support by using Hollywood. If I was an American who hated the British, I’d take a certain delight in the release of that film. Even within the film, it was filled to the brim with plot diversions to make it acceptable to American audiences. The story was essentially creatively scissored to make it American. If you read, even briefly, into the actually story behind the film, you will know that the speech therapist would never have called the King ‘bertie’.

As a point of fact, had they made a movie about the true nature of the monarchy during that time, not only would it have exposed an arrogant and collapsing aristocracy, it would have been boring as well. They knew that the royals had left so little to be desired by their actions in this period that they wrapped the film up in messages about speech disorders and Churchill.

This backwards little Germanic lineage is so bankrupt for publicity ideas that it is Americanizing itself. It’s audience is now so small that it must play to the Anglophiles and stargazers of the New World. I don’t see this as a cause for despair for republican ideals but rather as a cause for celebration. Celebrity status doesn’t last and the media that lifted Britney also handed her back to us bald. This facade of imperial madness will fade.

The wedding was another great American triumph. The coverage of the dresses, and the moaning of Kate about being dubbed ‘princess’, was Hollywood in it’s origin. I won’t touch on this too much, mostly because I am tired of hearing about it.

On the royal visit, we need only look at the couple themselves. They wore no old imperial costume, they wore high fashion. They were spotted doing ordinary things, which used to never happen with a possible monarch. Essentially, they behaved more like touring rock musicians than royals. They had few visits with the upper class of the country, and spent most of the trip sidelined by politicians and locals.

It’s worth remembering that on the 24th of June, Hollywood papers were alive and well with stories about the couple’s “Hollywood BAFTA bash” being sold out. The focal point of the British empire is now northwest Los Angeles.

So my message to republicans, soft or hard, is cheer up. Independence Day has passed and American, not England, is going after the bad guys and Obama, not Cameron, is showing the political class how to construct a democracy. For all the passing hurrahs about the royal couple, a love, centred on fashion not fact, will fall apart quickly.

For the monarchists, please stop acting like the nation now truly cares about the monarchy. When high school students start discussing what the Queen, not the California Kate, is wearing, then maybe I’ll see your point.

Until then, God Bless America.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2011 4:05 pm

    While I think your argument questioning the actual decrease in apathy toward the monarchy is valid, I believe that your notions of it becoming and targeting the American people is absurd.

    The Monarchy is responsible for producing our heads of state, whereas the United States does so through the Presidency- completely different methods, but the exact same duties. They are there to react with the people. meet politicians. people. They have been doing this for hundreds of years- nothing changed with this newly wed royal couple.

    It is true that the Monarchy itself has lessened in its powers and does not enjoy the complete autonomy it once did- but this certainly doesn’t mean it never met with and represented average, every day people.

    I think the reasons you think this is all different and revolutionary is because we haven’t had this sort of wedding in decades- see Princess Diana- Was she American? No. Just young.

    There was just as big of a “popular” hoopla for the 1939 royal visit, and for all the others in the 19th & 20th centuries. Just because you were not old enough, or have not taken the time to research Royal History in the commonwealth, doesn’t mean you should come to these conclusions.

    I am not disagreeing with you about the fact that the current level of popularity enjoyed during the 2011 Royal Tour will die- this happens with every major celebrity event (the Olympics for example- and I agree that all of this does not necessarily mean that it is the same as saying we all now love the throne, HOWEVER It doesn’t hurt the Monarchist cause…

    Yours is a very one-sided view of the current state of our Monarchy.

    Oh, and Hollywood has done several films on or about the Monarchy before, this does not mean that the Crown itself if trying to increase publicity- I doubt they have much of a say in Hollywood- see American attitudes to any monarchy (esp. circa late 18th century).

  2. James permalink
    July 8, 2011 12:17 am

    You do, have some (very few) interesting points, but your main thesis of the Americanization of the Royals is quite absurd.

    The British monarchy has always been at the forefront of keeping up with communicating to the Commonwealth and the people. They have been making overtures to the public since the turn of the 20th century. They have had to adapt themselves to keeping up with the times and staying relevant, and that was with mass communication.

    Now if our current royals were taking a page out of American publicity, we really should have seen more corporate sponsors and slogans in the royal wedding. A KFC double down commercial wouldnt have hurt either.

    This royal tour is the latest fad, it will quickly die out, you are right about that. But, you certainly cant call the firm American for using mass communication.

    The monarchy has a certain place in our unique Canadian political culture. Without it our parliamentary democracy and traditions would simply fall away and we would be our not so great partner to the south.

    I also think this is a needless debate. Canadians wont simply go down the republican path, but neither will be truly fall in love with the monarchy. Were quite happy with status quo, even if that means we don’t understand that there is a Queen of Canada.

    God Save the Queen.

  3. July 8, 2011 8:51 am

    The monarchy is completely irrelevant and nothing short of a feudal relic. We’d do well to get rid of it.

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