Sunday, 1 May 2011

Thingabouts: a Royal Wedding

As far as royal weddings go I have no interest, and assumed most people in this country felt the same. This impression has been easy to sustain as I have been spared the royal wedding gossip that has surely taken over TV in the last month. Indeed on Friday I had hoped to be on Ailsa Craig, making the most of the public holiday. But due to circumstances outwith my control, we were still in Moray on the big day, and I was surprised at the amount of bunting and flags on display. But of course! For the fairer sex royal weddings are like catnip, an event as momentus as if the football world cup final only came around once in a generation. I even saw this cute sand sculpture on the beach at Cullen:

Whilst I am as apathetic about the celebrity aspect of royal weddings as any, my feelings about the monarchy are more subtle. An unelected, hereditary, first-born male head of state - banned by law from being Catholic (though curiously not of any other faith) - is logically indefensible in these democratic times. A republic of some kind is the obvious answer. But before ditching the monarchy, a moment's thought about the alternative makes one pause. For every inspiring leader like Mandela, there are a dozen Putins, yet both were elected. Is the monarchy so bad after all, given that the alternative might be worse? Until such times as a dramatic change in our constitutional situation, or unacceptable meddling in politics, I am minded to leave the royals and all their alien pomp be. In the words of this thingabout (a verse style invented by Edinburgh-based artist Robert Crozier):

The thing about our parliament?
The truth's not quite self-evident.
Indeed, we have no president,
no bill of rights or amendment,
just ancient rite and sentiment.
This clearly leads to discontent.
Republican! Before you vent
on perfect forms of government:
think first round Cromwell's heads of steel,
who rhythm barred for an ideal.

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