On March 7, millions around the world watched Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s exclusive tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey. For some, it was juicy gossip. But for many more, it was an exploration of the role and conduct of the British monarchy.
The interview raised important questions. Is the British monarchy incontestable? Is it racist? Is monarchy even a relevant and meaningful institution in today’s world?
I’ll tell you what I think — the glamourization of the Monarchy excuses an institution that runs on discrimination and still somehow manages to be a centerpiece of national pride.
For anyone part of a democratic society, the monarchy is the equivalent of calculus — something most people don’t understand but continue to promote anyway.
Although difficult to admit, some of us probably remember waking up at the crack of dawn simply to catch a glimpse of Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s glamourous wedding, only to later wonder “should I have slept in instead?”
For some British people, however, the monarchy has sentimental value and serves as almost a pecuniary advantage. Some argue that it brings political goodwill with other Commonwealth nations, upholds British values and traditions, and is a big driver of British tourism.
Clearly this makes the Royal Family an asset for the British tax-payers — after all they are the brand ambassadors of Great Britain.
And the British public agrees. According to international research data and analytics group YouGov, “Two-thirds of Britons say that Britain should keep its monarchy, while only 21 per cent would prefer that the country have an elected head of state.”
But what about Canada? A poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests just over half of Canadians believe that Canada should abandon the British monarchy.
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned in a 2018 town hall in Etobicoke, Ontario, “it’s fairly convenient and even nice to have a head of state that actually does not engage herself in the politics of the country.”
Well in that sense, the monarchy does not have a practical purpose in the new world.
Should any family get tax-payer-funded grants, reside in lavish palaces, receive special privileges from the justice system, and wield great political influence simply because they are “royal blood”?
The answer is no.
From my perspective, the monarchy has maintained a timeless tradition of “conscience cleansing” to hide their past wrongdoings, such as a history of colonialism and profiting from slavery, by participating in charities and maintaining political goodwill.
Furthermore, in a modern democratic state, the people can exercise democratic control over the head of the state. This includes both electing the head of state as well as developing instruments to hold them accountable.
The monarchy defies these principles as the head of state is a hereditary monarch.
Pay special attention to the word hereditary. This means that a successor to the throne will inherit the crown regardless of their suitability, character or scandals.
This should be considered when evaluating the relevance of the Monarchy, as heirs like Prince Charles have witnessed a significant drop in popularity.
So, why should such privilege be a birthright when the Royal Family is no way superior to others?
Glamour, prestige, honour and traditions cannot change the fact that the British Monarchy is an antiquated system of governance.
We live in a time that increasingly promotes values of merit over birth. Hereditary monarchies, or even glamourising one family above all, serve no tangible purpose and are quite inegalitarian.
So, take a minute and ask yourself: is it time to abolish the British monarchy?Because for me, the British monarchy doesn’t pass the vibe check.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a reply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ishita Mann is a first-year undergraduate student studying cellular, physiological and pharmacological sciences. She is the founder and chief executive officer of Youth Helping Youth Saskatchewan, a non-profit designed to help students find meaningful opportunities and scholarships in Saskatchewan.