Are Canadians ready for a homegrown monarch?
The recent debate over dumping the monarchy in Australia has highlighted the irrational fondness that many of us Commonwealth types have for our royals.
Everyone knows that republicans and separatists have a point when they remind us that it is a bit ridiculous -- if not downright unpatriotic -- to have a foreigner as our head of state. Buty the standard republican solution -- electing a president -- seems rather dull, if not suspiciously American.
After all, why should we bother with all the money, TV airtime, and political maneuvering to elect a ceremonial president when he or she will be as irrelevant and powerless as a king or queen, anyway? This whole debate is about image, not substance. If we insist on emasculating our heads of state, let us at least make them fun to keep around. And nothing beats Royalty for that.
Clearly what a nation like ours (and I'm talking about Canada now) needs is neither a president, nor a foreign queen, but our very own home-grown monarch. But how does one go about starting a new royal dynasty?
The English way has traditionally been to gather an army, proclaim yourself king, and then chop off the heads of everyone who disagrees. That seems distinctly un-Canadian, so we'd probably be better off just nicking a king or queen from the current line of succession to the English throne. Not only would it be more legitimate in the eyes of the legal purists, but it would also be substantially more polite, and therefore undeniably Canadian.
It would not do to pick a monarch who is directly in line for the British throne, otherwise we would just end up back where we started. Instead, we must begin with someone who could, but in all likelihood won't, ascend to the throne, thus creating an independent Canadian Royal lineage. There are quite a few princes and princesses languishing unused in England, and any one of them would make an excellent king or queen of Canada, if they decided the job interested them.
And why wouldn't it? They would get 40 times the country, with only half the annoying people. There is better skiing, fewer soccer hooligans, more TV stations, and less paparazzi. We in turn would get our very own head of state to entertain us when hockey is out of season.
Once we found an agreeable candidate for the position of king or queen, we could fly them over for a quick little tour of the country and a review of the job requirements, which basically amount to this: Look good, act sensitive to the problems of the people, and try not to say anything spectacularly stupid while out in public. Experience with cutting ribbons and endorsing charities is an asset, but on-the-job training can be provided if necessary. Constitutional obligations in the event of a hung parliament can be explained by advisors in the unlikely event that the powers of the throne actually need to be exercised.
Canada has no shortage of hobbies and pastimes to engage the pleasure centres of a royal's high-minded brain, while keeping his subjects reassured that he is acting in a properly Canadian way. By all accounts, royals love fishing, yachting, skiing, and criticizing architecture, all of which Canada provides boundless opportunities for.
We can expect it to take a few years before our monarch becomes thoroughly Canadianized, but by then we shouldn't be surprised to spot him or her screaming obscenities from the royal box at hockey games, patronizing our finer breweries, and sneaking across the border from time to time to pick up a bottle and fill the limo with gas.
Speaking of the border, a lesser-known benefit to having our own royals would be marketing them to Americans, who, after two centuries of being royalty-free, continue to suffer painful urges to associate with anything bearing the title of "princess". By endowing royal functions with sufficient pomp and ceremony, we would attract mounds of American tourist dollars, while paradoxically making our neighbours feel better about the silliness of their own political system.
Furthermore, a uniquely Canadian monarch might do wonders to soothe the frayed nerves of Canadian unity. Removing an old English dame from our money would certainly take the wind from the sails of a few separatists, and even calm the down the occasional die-hard federalist.
Naturally, we would expect a good Canadian monarch to be fluently bilingual, but as the English and French are uneasy neighbours over there as well as here, there may already be a few candidates who have some education in la belle langue. Since Rideau Hall is the obvious choice for a city residence for our Monarch, it would make sense to have the royal country estate just across the river in Quebec. Perhaps a modest palace in the Gatineaus... vive le roi! Of course, as a gesture of Western inclusion, the Royal family could also keep a winter home on the West Coast, both to escape the ice storms and to keep up with their skiing.
It goes without saying that our monarch would have to leave the utterly silly system of English peerage behind them. We Canadians might be inexplicably fond of our kings and queens, but we draw the line at a whole class of inbred wankers.
Any proper Canadian monarch would have to share his or her genes with a good son or daughter of the common folk. Not just any commoner, of course, but a Canadian with appropriate status and distinction, impeccable character, and most importantly, an amusing public persona. We have an extensive array of surly grunge musicians, depraved film-makers, and second-hand-smoke-imbibing athletes who enjoy the necessary level of celebrity and prestige to consort with, and eventually breed, with our beloved sovereign. In time, our transplanted Canadian monarch would beget truly Canadian heirs to the throne, and the Canadian dynasty would be off and running.
We subjects could then kick back and do what subjects do best: Admire our royals' fashion sense, while tut-tutting their social mores. Meanwhile the business of running this country would go on much the same as it always has... you didn't think that our head of state really anything to do with government, did you?