New Royal Raises Old Argument for a Republic

Babies are nature’s way of telling the human race to keep plodding along. Despite the general awfulness that befalls the species from time to time, and despite the rather innate nastiness of homo sapiens, babies remind mankind that the future is unwritten. So, the latest addition to the British royal family has sparked celebrations and and outpourings of cash. Yet, if one truly cares about the kid, one must support the abolition of the monarchy.

Defenders of the institution cite the way in which a monarch stands above politics and thus can unite the nation in a way no president could. As head of state but not of government, the British royal family acts as guardians of the nation. Compare that with the rather unhappy times in America when the president is politically unpopular, and thus, cannot bring people together (Richard Nixon for example). And there is the economic argument. Would people come from all over the world to see the President of Britain and buy silly souvenirs?

Against these arguments, republicans in Britain (decidedly a minority) point out the inherent unfairness of the institution. Why should one family enjoy vast wealth simply because the Elector of Hanover managed to get Parliament to invite him to become king some 300 years ago.? What sort of meritocracy is possible? The class system rests upon the monarchy, and the class system is unfair. To which, the monarchists reply “life is unfair.”

Yet, there is one argument against the monarchy that goes unanswered because it is unanswerable. The monarchy imprisons the royals and prevents them from living full and productive lives. One only has to review recent history to see this is so.

This child is destined to be king unless his father outlives him. Given the longevity of the family (his great, great grandmother “Queen Mum” made it past 100, and Prince Philip is in his tenth decade of life), medical advances and the royal lifestyle, the Prince of Cambridge (his title for now) will be past 60 when he ascends the throne. What does he do until then? He can’t really go into business; his grandfather’s farming business is a half-hearted attempt at being productive. There is the military, but what if he doesn’t want that? Prince Edward left the armed forces after a few weeks to start a film production company, but he’s not going to be king. Anything political is out of the question.

And there is the personal life to consider. Prince Charles married Diana Spencer out of duty, but the world now knows that Camilla Parker-Bowles was his true love. How painful it must have been for all three of them. And while Britain is a more liberal nation than it once was, suppose the new prince is gay. Will he have any hope of happiness under those circumstances?

Every human being deserves to determine his or her own fate. That is the entire point of life, insofar as there is one. Realizing one’s potential, trying and failing or succeeding. And this is where the monarchy is cruel. The Prince of Cambridge will be King of England some day, but he is unlikely to be allowed to be much else. And there is so much more he might be.