The Royal Wedding

7 04 2011

Jeff Edelstein, columnist at the Trentonian, has in the April 6 issue provided us with just about the most snarky, kill-joy, spoil-sport, lets-rain-on-the parade piece on nincompoopery I have encountered since reading the Republican Party Platform in the last election. ( See this link – go to opinion and see column on the wedding)  Worse – he has his facts wrong.  In fairness, he does say “maybe I’m a cynical, jaded whiner…” No maybe about it Jeff – you are and you don’t know what your writing about.

To begin with, you say “does anyone really give a ….about this?” Clearly a great many people do care about it very much indeed, if sales of souvenir coffee mugs, TV time and special editions of magazines are any clue. The royal establishment is a fairy tale brought to life – an ancient institution of mysterious customs, fabulous costumes and grand ceremonial. It brings some color and some dreams into ordinary lives and is a great deal more interesting than a boring president in a dark suit or a bunch of wrangling politicians.  Edelstein goes on to write “the whole point of the Revolutionary War was to get out from under the King of England.” Wrong. Poor George III had little to do with the whole affair. The point of the Revolution was to liberate the wealthy landed aristocracy and New England merchant class from having to pay their fair share of taxes resulting from the expense of the French & Indian War. England sent troops here to defend those very classes, at the request of those classes and then got struck with the bill. The most famous of the taxes was the one on tea. Tea was a very expensive commodity at that time and only the rich drank the real thing. There is considerable doubt that the revolution would have been supported by a popular vote and in fact, such a vote was never taken. Further, over 50,000 loyalists fled the colonies rather than abandon their allegiance to the crown.

Edelstein’s next bone-headed remark is “and it’s not like they have any real power anyway, these so-called royals. Seems to me they have about as much pull as I do.” One hardly knows where to begin with such a breath-taking display of raw ignorance. Being a so-called journalist here in Trenton, New Jersey, there is no particular reason why Edelstein should know anything about the English constitutional system and he convincingly shows us he does not. Let’s start with the “so-called royals” snark. The British Royal Family, through various “houses” and branches traces its monarchial lineage all the way back to Cerdic, an ancient Saxon king who was himself supposed to be the son of the god Wotan – in other words the line goes back into the mists of myth thousands of years ago. Only the Imperial Family of Japan is older. That is about as legit as you can get in this world and the “so-called” remark illustrates nothing but the petty envy of the lower bourgeoise.

As for power – The Queen has what are known as the residual powers. These are powers that are very real though seldom exercised. The oaths of officers the armed forces (except the Air Force) are sworn to the person of the sovereign, not to the government. In other words, the army and navy take orders from Her Majesty. Normally of course, military affairs are not handled that way but push come to shove, everyone knows to whom those oaths were sworn. Does Edelstein have an army and a navy that swears their oath to him? I’m not familiar with the power structure at The Trentonian but I don’t think he even controls the newsboys.

Another power is that the Queen can veto legislation. It hasn’t been done since Queen Ann in 1702 but it has been threatened more than once and in modern times too. The Queen can dismiss parliament and the Prime Minister and call for a new election. That too has not been done in a very long time but has been privately threatened during certain situations such as the Curragh Crisis in the 1920s. There are other powers as well but perhaps most important is the fact that the government MUST keep the Queen informed and MUST listen to her advice whether or not the advice is taken. The monarch is the ultimate protector of the liberties of the people against the possibility of a dictatorship. When we look at Washington D.C. today and contemplate the lunacy of the Tea Party Republicans we must wonder if a king might not be a better idea.

Next Edelstein gives vent to an envious rant about the wealth of the Royal Family. Are you missing any meals Jeff? No? Then what’s it to you? If your family had stayed in one place and carefully husbanded their resources for one or two thousand years, you too might have a bit more than a mortgage and a bag full of grocery coupons – but alas, such is not the case. Much of the wealth of the royal family is in the form of palaces and art collections that would have to be maintained as museums anyway. The famous crown jewels are state property, not the property of The Queen. Further, the monarchy is one of the world’s great tourist attractions and turns a profit for England just by existing.

Sorry to disappoint you Jeff Edelstein but April 29 will not bring a “giant yawn.” It will open a window of magic, pageantry and mystical magnificence for a fascinated world – doing for grown-ups what Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty did for us as children. For those few moments, fairy tales will be real and the world will be a place of colorful wonder. Only the most spiteful and meanest of curmudgeons would begrudge us that brief surcease from the daily grind of disasters, hate-spewing fundamentalists and idiot tea partiers.




2 responses

7 04 2011
Phil Dragotto

Great blog Toby.
I like your comments and they should awaken readers to the human need for ritual and pageantry. Sociologically I believe people have a genetic need for ritual. If we didn’t, why do we celebrate birthdays and Christmas, Easter, and set aside special days for Historic figures who have done great things. No matter what I might think of the Catholic church for example, I remember the pomp and ritual of Holy Thursday during Easter week. All us altar-boys looked forward to the white embroidered cassocks and red velvet and gold tasseled stoles. We loved walking down the aisles of the church with the bronze candle holders with their ruby red glass candle glass. How about Mardi Gras? People love it. People love weddings and parades. So what’s wrong with England doing it the way no one else can?
Nothing. Maybe if we had more ritual in our lives, we would be more content.

13 05 2011
Alan Bounville

I love that you wrote about this! I see your point about the royal masturbation fest being something that makes money for England. But, I wonder what would happen if their wedding was done on a much smaller scale. What kind of impact would that make?

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