Friday, January 08, 2021

History of the Crown

Google "maple crown" and the first
page of hits is all whisky ads 

Over the holidays, we got through to the end of "The Crown" (more yet to come, I guess). God, was I sick of those people by the end of it. Not the program so much as the people it portrays. 

I know it's fiction and simplified and exaggerated for dramatic purposes. Can any human being, let alone the hyper-entitled Prince of Wales, actually hunch and cringe as much as the actor who plays Prince Charles does?). But what struck me most throughout was how foreign a story it all was. What horrible people they all are. And how unCanadian, thank heaven.

We have a lot of homegrown undesirables, sure. But Canada simply does not have a society even remotely similar to the one in which "The Crown" unfolds. British people remain used to their countryside being filled with ancient palaces, their public events dominated by titled nonentities, their newspapers busy with the doings of the offspring of dukes and countesses, their politics shaped by the House of Lords and the royal courtiers. They have a state church, for God's sake. They do live in a functioning monarchical society.

None of that exists, or even has resonance, in Canada. We do have a government "based on the well-understood principles of the British Constitution," but our two countries, being different societies, have always run differently. By now the gulf has become unbridgeable. For all practical purposes, the monarchy has long since ceased to exist in Canada.

Indeed, all the monarchy now does is inhibit the workings of our constitution.  Philippe Lagasse argued the other day that if a Canadian prime minister acted as President Trump has, the Crown is empowered to step in and dismiss him or her. But in our present circumstances, any minor-league Trumpish PM could easily discredit action by, on the one hand, an elderly English aristo living in a London palace or, on the other hand, by a governor-general forever condemned to second-tier status behind a largely imaginary monarch. 

And yet.... John Fraser and Nathan Tidridge urge us to see how important it is that in 2022 we properly observe a "platinum jubilee" (that's a thing?) "fit for a queen."  What we really need to prepare is a suitable mechanism for establishing the Canadian Governor General as the true and only head of state. 

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