It’s not that I didn’t care about the royal visit. I had really strong feelings. It’s just that they were so contradictory, they averaged out somewhere near ‘Meh’.
So it was a good thing mostly. I was irritated by commentators who gushed like it was the second coming of Elizabeth Christ, beginning of the end of all our troubles. (Slightly disorientating that this coincided with America’s latest rapture attack.) I’m sure that it will be good for our image abroad and for tourism especially, will demonstrate that the Irish still know how to entertain even – perhaps especially – when times are tough. If everything goes well with the Obama visit too, I think this whole summer will be remembered as one brilliant PR coup.
But like all true democrats, I’m a republican (try explaining that in the US), and find the idea of ‘constitutional monarchy‘ bizarre. Genuine monarchy at least has the excuse that it’s what happens when someone wins a fight. But for a self-proclaimed democracy to maintain the post of hereditary pretend-ruler… Well basically it’s just silly, a sort of national charade. This may look like a nice little old lady, but we’re all pretending she’s magic. I resent being required to play along.
Another weird thing about broadcasters in Ireland is the ‘moratorium’. Under this rule, they’re not allowed to discuss tomorrow’s election today. They still broadcast the political shows though, so right now we’re witnessing the unedifying spectacle of hot leftish forum Tonight with Vincent Browne studiously ignoring the most important ballot in living memory.
But what is there that doesn’t relate to the economic and political train wreck we’re living through? The only even vaguely topical issue they found is the mooted visit of the reigning British monarch, an idea so disconnected from current reality that you wonder if the media started it just so they’d have something to talk about tonight.
I couldn’t bear to watch. For the sake of TV, the argument had to be over whether we should actively despise or be really quite fond of royalty. Both unreasonable positions to my mind; I would prefer to simply not give a flying fuck about the British or indeed any monarch. I am a republican.
Not in the usual Irish – and certainly not in the American – sense, but in that I am opposed to inherited respect. So I would prefer if persons holding office simply by privilege of birth were not fawned upon by our leaders. On the other hand, she’s the symbolic head of a country with which we are trying to heal and mature our relations. If we do this right (as in polite and dignified, NOT flattered and awestruck, monarchophiles) it could – could – help improve life for people in Northern Ireland.
So I’m in a bind. In these situations, I’m forced to defer to Approval Cat.
Approval Cat, where do you stand on an official visit by the UK’s Head of State?