Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ian M. MacIsaac: Fear and loathing in a Buckingham Palace bathroom

  Despite the Deep South rapidly becoming a war-zone, the events in Japan and Libya, and the release of Obama's birth certificate, it seems very likely that a larger percentage of Americans than Britons watched Friday's royal wedding between William and Catherine. Americans have long had a weird fascination with the monarchy and especially the royal family, but it seems particularly noticeable with so many actually consequential events occurring as we speak.

  I have to say I was surprised I didn't hear more complaints about the nature of this wedding from Americans. In an age where everyone in the states seems to be worried where their tax dollars are going and what their government's wasting money on now, I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw these same Americans--both those I know personally and those on CNN and NBC who fawned over the event all day--cheer the use of mind-boggling amounts of British taxpayer money for a wedding between two figures who literally do nothing.

  I guess if you're a normal person you have to actually pay for things--if you're born into a particular family, you make the plebes pay for it well into the science and technology age. And then you make them give you a yearly 'salary' of almost 30 million dollars despite doing literally no work (as William's father Charles has gotten away with splendidly).


  Should we decry only wasteful spending in the United States and not in our truest geopolitical ally, the United Kingdom? Just months ago the new British Prime Minister David Cameron implemented a number of austerity measures, including cutting health care, defense, and education across the board. Students rioted in the streets of London when they heard they would be facing a tuition increase. Many of the students would have to leave school for lack of funds. Up to a fourth of some workers in government departments are likely to lose their jobs.

  And now, many of the same individuals on both sides of the pond who criticized those austerity measures are now cheering at the use of bombers and fighter jets as airborne ornamentation for a make-out session on a balcony between two people who fulfill no necessary political role, are not elected, and are completely unaccountable in every aspect of their lifestyle despite being fully funded--like the spoiled rich kid William is--by those who have to slave away for a living. And this has been going on uninterrupted since 1066. It's frustrating.


  I may not be the most proud American every single day, but goddamned if I'm not happy this is one kind of pomp and circumstance we're not wasting time on. Now if only we could manage to make the 2012 inauguration to be the first since at least Reagan's that wasn't more expensive than the last. But at least presidents are elected, not born--we in America actually have a say in who gets that inauguration money. And secondly, a president's inauguration is the assumption by the country of a new chief executive. It symbolizes a transfer of very real political power, whatever you may think of the person in charge at the time.

  Not only do the royals in England have none of that, but even if they did, this wedding doesn't have much to do with it seeing as how Catherine will never head the monarchy, and William was going to eventually anyway. People on news channels need to stop discussing the particulars Catherine's wedding dress as if it were important information. It's insulting not only to the viewer's intelligence but also to his sense of morality when so many people are dying all over the globe in all kinds of ways.

  Why not end the monarchy when Queen Elizabeth II, already in her eighties and her sixth decade of rule, dies? Why continue this charade? So what if Germany and France got rid of theirs through violent revolution? This is the 21st century. By now, surely Britons don't have to start killing each other in the streets to decide it's time to strike a line from next year's budget that costs them almost a quarter of a billion dollars directly each year and much more indirectly: a royal family in which there has been no vested political power for the better part of the past century.

  The amount of government manpower employed by the British for the simple task of a wedding is just ridiculous. Helicopters, planes, guards, horses, military drills. There's simply no reason for it. William and Kate want to get married? As far as I'm concerned, they can go down to the courthouse and pay for a marriage license just like everybody else.

  About the author: Ian MacIsaac is a staff writer for the Capital City Free Press. He is a history major at Auburn University Montgomery in Montgomery, Alabama and former co-editor of the school newspaper, the AUMnibus.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

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