Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not a monarchist, just semi-fascinated at the moment

The Queen and Prince Philip are in Canada for their 22nd royal tour.

(Insert stifled yawn here)

Considering that I'm covering the visit for this blog (and will continue to do so), I just can't rouse myself to feel any true excitement for the tour.

Having an 84 year old woman and her 89 year old husband displaying impressive energy and stamina when it comes to shaking multiple hands and unveiling plaques, just doesn't do it for me. It's something I noticed when Charles and Camilla visited last November. It was the same lack of excitement. Where was the glamour? The youth factor? At minimum, couldn't someone have fallen off a horse?

While it may be nice to have the Queen amongst us if only to compare her likeness to our currency, I have to ask what the point of these visits are? But then again, I had to ask what the point of the recent G20 visits were, an event that could have easily been accomplished by video teleconference equipment (yes, we have the technology!), wasted a billion dollars and led to a small group of anarchists overshadowing peaceful demonstrators with legitimate issues. Unlike the G20 world leaders, who we barely saw, the Queen does not hide behind partitions and cement barriers. We are not strongly encouraged to stay away, leaving the downtown core a ghost town. We are encouraged to come to see a woman who is the last of her kind, to celebrate her visit and to see the Queen of Canada who, as the most well-travelled monarch in history, and has seen and met more of of her subjects than any of her predecessors. While she may not enthusiastically wade into the crowds like the younger generation of royals, shaking all hands proffered, she is here, in the flesh, and visible.

When I look back on her previous visits, the first one in 1951 as Princess Elizabeth, the photos show an excitement to be marvelled at for the wrong reasons. Not to be viewed as the natural consequence of a deferential age but as a questionable response to a young woman far removed from our reality. It was inevitable that those types of reactions would reduce for subsequent royal visits. In the 1970s, when she brought her children, it increased the excitement factor. The photos from Charles and Diana's various visits show the same type of excitement and enthusiasm that was briefly repeated on Andrew and Fergie's 1987 tour, but has not been seen since then. Other royals may come and go, but it's just not the same.

With Charles and Camilla's recent tour, I chalked the lack of enthusiasm up to having the opening act instead of the star of the show perform. I had honestly thought that the Camilla curiosity factor would have increased the interest in the tour; it didn't. The lackluster response for their tour seemed to be an omen for this visit. Except in this case we have the star of the show in attendance. If the people from the 1950s were capable of viewing photos from this tour, they would marvel at our cynicism and in some cases our lack of respect.

At the risk of sounding like a monarchist - which I'm not - I'm glad she's here. I may not appreciate her visits until she's gone and that's a shame. In the future, other royals may come and go, but it just won't be the same.

© Marilyn Braun 2010

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