A Right Royal Visit

Last Modified: 18-2-2019 5:53

Blenheim is just about due for a right royal visit and amid all the frenzied preparations for their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and an attendent media swarm, there are bound to be discussions about the relevancy of the monarchy to New Zealand.

Monarchists will point to tradition, while republicans will point out that a privileged couple from the other side of the world don't have much in common with the average kiwi. Throw into the mix the Treaty of Waitangi which established British sovereignty and granted British citizenship to all people of New Zealand, and you have a complex situation to consider.

William and Katherine (to use their real names, although Kathy could have been worse than Kate, and Willy -I don't want to go there) seem to be a nice enough couple, and the Duchess appears to not only be astute enough to have gained herself a prince, but also seems to be doing a lot to improve the popularity of the monarchy. On the other hand, they do lead a life that few in New Zealand could ever aspire to. That's not to say that their life is necessarily something that everyone would want to aspire to. While they might lead a life of luxury, they are also constrained by royal protocol, and the constant media attention and need for security mean that it must be nearly impossible for them to have spontaneous moments together.

Personally, I'm ambivalent about royalty. On one hand having people who are trained to be role models to society is not a bad thing if they can live up to expectations. Numerous elected presidents in various countries from the recently deposed Yanukovych in the Ukraine to Nixon, to Clinton and the Lewinsky affair indicate that elected heads of state don't necessarily measure up any better than hereditary monarchs in terms of role models. Royalty doesn't have a historically good track record either, with good and bad monarchs stretching back to biblical times. Perhaps an ironic advantage of monarchy in the modern era where belief in their appointment by divine authority probably has little support even amongst believers of divine authority, is that when they fail, they fail alone, rather than voters kicking themselves for choosing a poor leader, however the down side is it can take much longer to replace a bad monarch than a bad president, assuming a democratic process is followed with presidents.

I tend to believe in people based on their merits and what they choose to do with the opportunities life presents. In this respect, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are more similar to the average person than might otherwise be apparent. To be sure, they have opportunties that other people don't have, but they have the same choice to decide how they will use the opportunities they have been given. If they choose well, and use their position of privilege to be good role models, then they have my respect. If not, then they live far enough away that they're of little importance to me.

Perhaps their biggest responsibility right now is as parents. William seems to have turned out remarkably well considering the tumultuous lives of his parents, and hopefully the royal couple can put aside the pressures of their lifestyle to remain faithful to each other and provide stability and love to the young Prince George. Parenthood is a huge responsibility regardless of social status, wealth or nationality, and parents only get one chance to get it right with a child. As a parent of an only child who will grow up as a contemporary of the young prince, although my personal wealth is many orders of magnitude less than royalty, I can relate to how the Duke and Duchess have their work cut out.

My little girl is excited about the royal visit even though her mother comes from a country that has not had royalty for over a century, and although as parents we're pretty casual about the whole royal thing. I guess as the end of the day, little girls still want to believe in handsome princes and beautiful princesses, even if things don't often work out perfectly in the real world. That's the thing about royalty, even if winning lotto is potentially more attainable than aspiring to their position, it's still a dream that some people want to aspire to in a world that is often full of disappointments. Of course it's absurd to value one or two humans so much more highly than any others, but maybe, just maybe, if they recognise that they have a responsibility to all those who dream, then perhaps there is an opportunity for royals to do some good in the world.

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A Right Royal Visit. (2019) Retrieved February, 27, 2024, from

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