Friday, April 29, 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Royal Wedding Edition
I'm going to deviate from the usual format of my weekly whip-around of news you may have missed this week, to talk about news you couldn't possibly have missed this week: the wedding of William & Kate.
I know, I know...vestige of a past age, really anachronistic, why are we wasting so much attention on such an irrelevant atrophied system, there's a boatload of starving people who could use the millions spent on the wedding, look at what we're missing in Libya, or Morocco, or Uganda.
All very legitimate points. All pretty irrelevant to a large number of people.
But I'm not here to defend the wedding's newsworthiness or the interest of large swaths of people in it.
It struck me this morning...well, two things struck me, the first being how much Prince William resembles me, but I struck me this morning as William, Kate and Harry were lined up at the altar, that we caught a glimpse of England's future.
And it could be a future of greatness. Truly, William could be the king to restore England to its role of primacy in world affairs, moving it out of America's lap and into it's own yard.
I know, the last sixty years have seen the royals become pretty much irrelevant to Britain's governance. Power rests with Parliament and power in Parliament rests in the hands of the Prime Minister. Much like America, the Queen exists as an executive branch, the Parliament holds legislative and advisory powers.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has had a long and storied reign over England, overseeing the final vestiges of the British Empire and slowly letting pieces break away. She was pretty much thrown into the position back in 1952, and as a woman, has had a long and difficult fight to be taken as seriously as any king might.
She has been scrupulously silent on matters political for the bulk of her reign and tends not to exercise what political power she can. And her public image, although recently softened, has been one of removal from passion for her subjects, and a very steady and sober demeanor (even if she has on occasion allowed photographs of her smiling to be taken). Of course, rumours of being an enthusiastic Wii player have helped make her appear more modern.
By contrast, William and now Kate seem to have been embraced by the British and to have embraced them back. They are clearly comfortable in the spotlight, something I do not think Her Highness has ever really found.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seem comfortable with communicating directly with the people, too, but more from a friendly "status update" posture than a royal edict or television address.
It is this last that I'm struck by. They come off as a highly approachable pair, which would be one step further than William's parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana. In that couple, she was truly the "People's Princess," but he took after his mother, and tended to treat the media like a live wire to be handled gingerly.
It is conceivable that William, should he become King, would be quite able to meld this quality of demonstrance with an actual plan of governance. It would restore to the Crown a true "unitary executive" power without bullying or cudgeling the loyal opposition, something that the President of the United States has on occasion tried and failed miserably to achieve, usually ruling by edict and fiat and then having his citizens resent and reject him.
A powerful and charismatic English king would go a long way towards unifying the European Union, I think, and create an entity that could have more influence than China or even the United States on the world stage.
This could be an elegant start to a very exciting time for England.