BY CASSANDRA LITTLEWOOD
I loved, and still love, the fact that the Royals provide a great form of escapism. They’re the fairytale-come-to-life that we are obsessed with. They are princes and princesses that are seemingly tangible people whose outfits we can copy and whose lives we can see play out alongside our own. According to a HuffPost article “Why Americans Are So Obsessed with the Royals,” the public likes the idea that with a real-life prince comes a real-life happily ever after, an ending that many hope to see for themselves someday.
On the other hand, fairy tales are not all they’re cracked up to be – cue Cinderella’s stepsisters hacking off pieces of their feet in hopes of becoming the next princess. Beneath every seemingly perfect fairy tale, the poisonous apple or the too-small shoe exists.
It has always bothered me that the public dramatizes the lives of the Royals completely out of proportion. Every time there is an untrue headline on a tabloid I cringe, sigh and wonder why stories have to be made up about a family (I’m glad I wasn’t alive for the Queen vs. Diana feud that no doubt was inflated to the extreme). This relates to the paparazzi printing a non-consensual nude picture of Kate Middleton or the racial undertones that exist in articles about Meghan Markle. The British Monarchy has the unfortunate circumstance of living under a very hard limelight, something that sadly doesn’t seem to be ceasing anytime soon.
A positive aspect of the Royals is their charity work. Their advocacy for veterans through the Invictus Games and for mental health through Heads Together has made a real impact in the lives of many people. After Prince Harry talked openly about his own mental health experts said that more men were willing to talk about their own mental health, People reports. I do sometimes wish that the Royal family was more outspoken on issues, however, I also realize it’s important that they remain politically neutral to interact with different political leaders who have different political positions. They have been able to use their position to advocate for important issues despite their policy on being politically neutral, and have reached millions of people in the process.
The British monarchy never fails to strike up a debate on whether the system is still relevant or not. The presence of the Royals on Queen’s campus is both figurative and literal wherever students go, given our name of course. I asked the Queen’s community their opinion on the relevance of the British monarchy. While some were quick to express their love and respect for the Royal family, others, to put it simply, were not.
“I think the 18th century French provide excellent direction on what should be done with the royal family.”
– Jonathan Shepherd
“The royal family has been an important part of my family and growing up…When Princess Diana died it was a huge blow for my mom and since then, I have followed them very closely. I don’t find them relevant politically anymore but I still believe the monarchy holds a special power symbolically, especially in more traditional households. I also think that they are becoming more progressive as time goes on, especially with Meghan Markle being divorced and [biracial] which does, even in just a small way, positively impact people, especially the older and more traditional generations that think highly of them, to be more accepting.”
– Shannon Petrie
“Americans have to pledge their allegiance to their flag – to a piece of cloth. Personally, I’d rather be loyal to a family than an inanimate object. Also, whatever their personal shortcomings, the Royal Family represents a great ideal: that devoting ourselves, and whatever advantages we have, to public service, is the best possible use of our time (you see this in Prince Harry’s military service, Prince William flying rescue helicopters, Prince Charles championing environmental causes and religious freedom, basically everything the Queen does).”
“[The Royal Family] have been becoming more progressive, starting with Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. She was a breath of fresh air, a young face for the monarchy, and was beloved by millions. Now we have Meghan Markle – an American, divorcée, biracial, and an actress – marrying the sixth in line to the throne. Ms. Markle is the perfect example of how times are changing in the British Royal Family…
When it comes to transparency, however, they are far behind their European counterparts, the Swedish Royal Family, for example, is considered one of the most social media-friendly Royal Families in Europe. The British Royal Family, though, is certainly making great strides, as Queen Elizabeth II once said, ‘I have to be seen to be believed.’”
– Colin Walsh
“[It] costs Canada ~$50M a year, an unnecessary archaic economic burden that basically contributes nothing to the quality of life.”
“[The Monarchy] usestheir “star power” to shine lights on incredibly important issues…Heads Together is making great strides in raising awareness for mental health charities as well as helping to reduce the stigma around those suffering from mental health illnesses. Both William and Harry have spoken very publicly about how the death of their mother has had a lasting impact on their mental health…
Harry’s Invictus Games encourage[s] those who have been wounded in combat to participate in the games to help with their overall recovery… Both of these initiatives were born as a result of William, Catherine, and Harry using their position to help others”
– Joanne Archibald
With the breadth of different perspectives and critiques that exist around the Royal family, for some they remain as relevant as ever and for others, it is a system that belongs in another century. The Royal family represents something different for everyone, whether that is consistency, tradition, romanticism or a centuries-old political system. No matter the perspective, the Royal family has proven time and again their ability to adapt to a changing world.