Monday, July 4, 2011

Why do we love the Royals?

It's Independence Day and the news broadcasts are featuring Kate and Will's tour of Canada. Feature segments are discussing her inate fashion sense (she picks all her own clothes and she did her own make-up for the wedding), how easily she converses with people as if she was born to the role. We are lapping it up in prime time and yet...
we abandoned all this to be a republic.
So why do are we still so fascinated with the royals? They are celebrities to be sure. But if Lady Gaga did a tour of Canada she wouldn't draw those crowds and she certainly wouldn't make news headlines.
Why do ordinary people wait for hours in the rain for a chance to see them pass by in a flash in a big car?
There must be something in our genes that needs ceremony and pagentry. Rousing marches, troops in uniform, flags, somehow stir our humdrum breasts.
And the king/god figure has been around since the dawn of mythology. Clearly those early nomads needed a strong personality to guide them past the wooly mammoths and sabre toothed tigers but when did that figure take on god-like qualities? And have to be accompanied by ceremony?  Since the earliest of recorded time if we read the stories on the tombs of the Pharoes.
The worship of royalty also seems to be in our genes. All those little girls playing princesses in a time when none of them can aspire to the role some day (unless their name was Kate?). Or maybe it's just a wish to live a fairy tale life, in a palace, waited on hand and foot, ones every whim obeyed.

Having done a few book tours in my life I can tell you that I would not envy their lives one bit. When I am on the road for two weeks, meeting new people every day, having to give speeches, greet fans, do media interviews it is very, very tiring. I fall into bed exhausted at the end of each day. And that's for a few days.
The royals, especially the queen, do that every day of their lives. Endlessly shaking hands, endlessly smiling, being gracious, never looking bored, never looking as if they wished they were somewhere else. This is a demanding job, folks. And a dangerous one. You never know when a crackpot might decide to assasinate a royal person. (Look what started World War 1)

But I'll share a story about the power of royalty. The queen was coming to my college to open a new building. Another student and I were chosen to welcome her and present her with a bouquet. My fellow student was an ardent socialist. For weeks before the event she griped that this was a waste of money and why should one person be treated as if they were superior to another person. The day arrived. The big black car drew up and out stepped the queen, petite, elegant and with the most radiant smile you have ever seen. My socialist friend breathed only two words.... "She's real!"

They are magic for us and this new generation shows all indications of living up to our expectations. 


  1. Funny story, Rhys. Did your fellow student curtsey to the Queen?

    I guess we revolted against tyranny, but didn't revolt against the fairy tale. People love happy endings, and it is so nice when one appears to come true. Will and Kate seem to be a very contented, happy couple, and you're right that it's a wonderful change from William's parents.

  2. I was getting ready to ask what you thought of the royal honeymooners' trip to Canada -- and you'd posted something. Kate is just beautiful and I love her taste in clothes. She and Will both appear to be down-to-earth and accessible. I wonder if that might be altering our perception of the royal family. I'd be the same way as your friend with Queen Elizabeth, but I'm not certain if that's because she's the *queen* or because her age -- or both. And would I feel that same way about a younger generation? There is certainly something about royalty that puts us on our best behavior and think about fairy tale endings.

  3. "She's real!" Love it.
    Thanks, Rhys.