May 22, 2000
The role of the monarchy - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER -- As this is a statutory holiday, Victoria Day, it may be completely tasteless or utterly appropriate to address the question of the monarchy and itís place in Canada. Itís silly that this country needs to have a head of state sitting in a castle across the pond (the Atlantic.)
Iíve never met her, but Iím sure that Elizabeth Windsor is a nice person. I have nothing against her personally, unlike one of my colleagues, but she isnít Canadian and probably has no comprehension of Canada, except that it is simply a colony of hers. America had a tiff with her peoples (plus some stink in a harbour, that resulted in a bunch of tea going to waste,) and asked them to leave. They just moved up here, and weíve never had the heart to ask them to leave. (Clearly Canadian, eh?)
The monarchy is the institution of institutions. Itís chock full of these little idiosyncrasies of tradition and protocol. All the habitual habits of royal life, would make the simplest of folk, want to hurl.
I am not a strong republican, nor a strong monarchist. I think the Royal Family has its positives and negatives. I guess, being the keyhole peeper I am, I think the Royal Family has the purpose of filling up our tabloids and schlock shows. I mean, there are half-wits in this world that just crave the latest piece of gossip on Princess Anneís latest failed marriage or how Prince William did on his driving exam. People generally feel better when blue bloods like Chuck and Camilla run into problems, because are problems are a hell of a lot less confused than theirs.
This is to be a big year for the House of Windsor. William is 18, Princess Margaret turns 70 and the Queen Mother turns a hundred. Thatís the British dame that Hitler called the most dangerous woman in Europe during the WW2.
The cost of the monarchy, particularly in Great Britain, is large. For Canadians, the cost of maintaining Rideau Hall and Madame Clarkson and Mr. Saul, alone would make Canadians want to switch to an American model of government.
I guess, what Iím aiming for is that the monarchy is one of those things that Iíd call an eye sore. You bitch and complain while itís around, but when itís gone you kinda miss it. Canada could do without the monarchy, but without it, weíd be a hell of a different place. We want that kind of familiarity to stick around. We want that sense of tradition and glamour. We feel compelled to practising our curtsies and our most dignified bon mots if we are ever invited to board the Britannia or to have cucumber sandwiches with Her Majesty on the lawn of Buckingham Palace.
At this very moment, I havenít got an opinion or the chutzpah to suggest anything but, Vivat Regina! (Whatever the hell that means, I hope it wishes the House of Windsor well.)
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