Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jubilee barge and cultural gulf

Royal Barge moored on the Thames at Richmond, May 2012

As a Canadian, I've known the Queen since she ascended the throne when I was two. I still have the souvenir biscuit tin my mother bought to celebrate her Coronation.

Seeing the Royal Barge on the Thames a few weeks before the recent Jubilee celebrations made me think about the differing cultural attitudes between Canada and the UK.

Though in practice the application of our democracy has been and remains deeply flawed, Canadians still place great value on the social ideal of egalitarianism.

The whole idea of monarchy, with its ancient practice of male primogeniture and the Royal motto of Dieu et mon droit flies in the face of the notion of equal rights for all.

Technically, Canada is a monarchy, but it doesn't feel like one. A great deal of our loyalty to Elizabeth II stems from historic familiarity. After her era, will Canadians be willing to extend such loyalty to her son Charles? I find it hard to imagine.

Yet even though today the idea of inheriting a throne seems weirdly outdated, the presence of a monarch (even though she does not govern) does lend government a feeling of stability. While elected Members come and go, the Queen remains.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we believe in equal rights for all. In fact, I think the Magna Carta said it first. We will argue for it. Protest against injustice. But I think most of us would also like to hit the lottery and rise above all the rabble. Most prefer not to wait in that enormous queue at the economy-class baggage check-in, but to stroll carefree up to that first-class priority booth and be greeted with an obsequious smile and a "Good morning sir, can I take your bags?". The royal family walk up to that booth and we watch and wave. We know they didn't have a chance to be like us. They didn't pay for it, they didn't bribe their way or use frequent flyer miles. They were simply born privileged and we accept that. There is the historical link to kings and queens of ruthless power, but we know the modern monarchy is all for show. And what a show!