Vanesa is a native and resident of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a 35-year-old historian who likes history in general and biographies in particular. Other interests are folk music, folk gastronomy, music, and books about the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries worldwide.
To Be or Not To Be
Of course, many people who have reached this point of the article may say, “....Oh, true...And so what?” If these people are not monarchists, the implications of commoner marriages are not important. Royals will mix with the people, and monarchy and nobility will disappear. This is what republicans want, and it’s fine for them. But if the persons who said "And so what?" are monarchists, they have good reason to worry. When royals become exactly the same as commoners, why would it make sense to keep a king or queen as the head of state? They are not active in politics any more for it is strictly forbidden to them; they don’t do anything special but wear expensive clothes and lavish jewels; when they are teenagers some of them act like upper-class brats - they seem not to be particularly interested in their country's history; and they seem to be bored by official duties. On the other hand, they enjoy attending rock concerts and celebrity parties, taking exotic vacations, and eating in famous and very expensive restaurants. Occasionally, in ominous contrast, they give a speech about starvation and appear in some photos kissing a starving child somewhere in the Third World, just to show how interested they are in social issues. They do little or nothing in their royal life. They are rich, and they like to flaunt it. With some exceptions, they are not traditionalist any more and they tend to marry later in life. The case of Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria, Prince William and Prince Harry in England, and Prince Albert of Monaco (the most emblematic of them all, since he is in his fifties) shows how serious the situation is. Other crown princes are already married, but they have babies and toddlers when they are in their forties. People who defend their lifestyle tend to argue that “people marry late nowadays” (if they marry at all), but the fact that most people do something doesn’t make it a good thing, especially for a royal.
Among all these other issues, the issue of marrying commoners is only the tip of the iceberg of the crisis threatening the system of monarchy. Citizens from countries with monarchies are starting to ask to themselves why they must pay such high taxes to support people who are there than for no reason other than to have a luxurious lifestyle, who do what they like, who refuse to perform duties, who look only for pleasure, and who in a few generations will not have a drop of royal blood in their veins. This last issue is not a minor one: this blood is the link that royals have with their countries' history. When British people see Queen Elizabeth II waving from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, they are not just seeing an old lady who smiles to them and who happens to be their monarch. They are also seeing something of Queen Victoria in her. Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands is herself, for sure, but she is also Queen Juliana and Queen Wilhelmina. All in one single person.
Monarchy is tradition, is history, is the culture of a people in a nutshell. If it ceases to be all this, its reasons for existence have reached a dead end. Vulgarisation and popularisation of royalty and aristocracy is already a problem. The trend toward marrying commoners is only adding to it. Princesses who are dynamic businesswomen, who care so much about “privacy in their family life,” and who carefully hide their children from photographers, without understanding that their husbands, their children, and they themselves belong to their people, cannot be totally royal and are damaging the monarchy. Their children are not actors' or singers' children: they are royals, and some of them will be queens and kings in the none too distant future. And if a crown prince chooses this kind of wife, he is even less royal than she.
However, I don’t want to sound apocalyptic. I think that monarchy can be preserved. We don’t know how the current crop of royal children will turn out and what values will be important in our societies when they grow up. Maybe pop culture will be out of style by then and people will not favor it. Maybe these royal children are intelligent and self-determined and could change the present tendency. Some of them seem to be bright enough and brave enough to do so, while their parents are more like the employees of multinational enterprises, with no strong personalities and somewhat indistinct profiles. My personal hope is that these young children will understand why they are royals, what it means to be one, and what their royal duties are. On that day, there will be no need to worry about them marrying commoners or nobility, for the new royal generation will be wise enough to choose their partners in life based on their own standards.
Page 1: Photo of Nicholas and Alexandra, public domain.
Page 1: Photo of newspaper headline about the Duchess of York and her "financial advisor" taken by Flickr member Mig_R and used with permission.
Page 1: Photo of Princess Aiko with her parents taken by Flickr member Atsu and used with permission.
Page 2: Collage of contemporary royals and spouses created by Royal Forums member TheTruth and used with permission.
Page 2: Photos of Queens Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix from The Royal Forums avatar collection.