There is a big discussion in Europe today about whether we need those royal families as heads of state. Everyone knows that they don’t really have much actual power. They don’t decide anything important for the country. They are not selected by the people, which is the main point of the democracy everyone is so crazy about. So, why are they still here? Why do people still want to meet them, to talk to them? Are they just another type of celebrities? Well, not quite.
In the medieval world the meaning of royalty was the exact opposite of the one today. Belonging to a royal family really meant having power, authority, stability and order for their countries. To be royal meant not only to have the keys to power but also to be born this way. But what does it mean? Can you have an inborn quality of being polite, ceremonial, well-informed in matters of politics. No, that meant that you needed to learn all those things in order to continue doing what your parents had done before you and representing the country locally and internationally.
Today every country tries to be a democracy. People have the right to vote, participate in elections and think that they can decide the future of their country. Whether it happens in fact is another question not the matter of discussion here. As a consequence of the abolishing of monarchy in many countries of the world people got the right to vote and say what they think. So, the royal families became kind of useless. But I don’t think that it’s true.
Let’s see what distinguishes a “usual” celebrity from a royal one. First of all, if you belong to a royal family (country doesn’t matter) your primal duty is excellent behaviour, politeness, the ability to follow the rules of the society. I couldn’t say that we can see the same looking at Hollywood stars. It is even better to make a scandal there. If you follow the history of the British royals you can remember how desperately the present Queen Elizabeth II tried to hide the scandals that threatened to be revealed at the times of Princess Diana, the divorce of the Prince Andrew with Sarah Ferguson, the constant presence of Camilla Parker-Bowles before she finally married Prince Charles… The Queen wasn’t afraid to lose her power. She was afraid to lose respect. Respect is the most important aspect of the royal society.
It is how they are being measured by their people. If they don’t have it, the royal traditions won’t matter. These people will become like everyone else. And let’s be honest – we don’t have that much in our lives to be respected for. We have money, but we don’t respect traditions and culture that much. We pay thousands for education but we don’t know simple things in life (I did actually meet people who mix up Austria and Australia because the names are similar!). We call ourselves patriots but we don’t always know the milestones of the history of our country… So, what does it all have to do with the tradition of keeping royalty?
Royalty reminds us of what we could be and what we were in times when honesty, courage, politeness, respect for authority (not only the fear of it) actually mattered something. We see a royal carriage drive by and we see the guards pay their respects to the Queen. We feel that we are different than those driving by. And don’t tell me that it’s bad because it makes us unequal. No, it doesn’t (at least, not today). It makes us different. If we see some people in the royal families behaving appropriately and gracefully why not take example from them? Why not teach our children to be more polite? They don’t learn it at school, sadly. They learn a lot of stuff they won’t need in life but they don’t learn how to behave. Maybe, that’s the one thing that we could say thanks to the royals for!
Your royal observer,