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Royal baby is more fun than republic

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RICHMOND, B.C. -- The Royal Dream Team has done it again. With the arrival of George Alexander Louis, it has assured the Commonwealth monarchy's existence for at least this century and probably into the next. Baby Cambridge's arrival has added to the ascendant popularity of Kate and William and, of course, the entire idea of royalty and the monarchy.

The Queen is a great grandmother and Charles is a first time grandfather. There were 41-gun salutes, and a 62-gun salute from the Tower of London.

Canadians have been joyously revelling in the baby's birth -- with bakers making blue and white cookies in Winnipeg to 21-gun salutes in Ottawa to illuminating Niagara Falls, the CN Tower and Parliament in blue to honour the baby boy. The "sails" at Vancouver's Canada Place were lit with baby blue lights.

The baby news is good news because it represents the continuity and stability of our moderately successful constitutional monarchy form of government. It has served Britain well for centuries and I think most Canadians would agree it has certainly stood us in good stead for 146 years.

Not everyone is happy with the idea of a royal baby. This is a free country and there are some who would prefer we become a republic, like the United States, with an elected head of state. There are good arguments for going that way, but there are at least as many for keeping our heredity constitutional monarchy.

There are also a few sourpusses who slither out whenever the Royal Family comes into focus to make snide comments about the rejoicing.

They always start their objections with a great deal of force: "Who cares?" is shouted from the rooftops and echoed through the comment sections of online media. The who-cares crowd expends boundless energy telling anyone who will listen how little they care. In fact, I can't recall a more vociferous lack of caring in my lifetime.

Some try to explain their dreary negativity. Annoyed at the hubbub, they mutter the royal baby is not news, just gossip. When it is suggested they don't have to read or watch it, they get angry and quite bitter. "All we need is another royal to pay for out of our taxes" or "Another freeloader is born." This is followed by dark aspersions about the stupidity of "the colonial masses" who are taking pleasure from the royal baby. They call the very idea of the monarchy "anachronistic" and a vestigial leftover of long past centuries. Indeed, Canadian anti-royalists inevitably whine we are feudal door mats and bemoan the fact we have a head of state who is a "foreigner" -- descended from tyrants no less!

Three wannabe Canadians have launched a lawsuit because they want Canadian citizenship but they don't want to swear allegiance to the Queen. Goodness. So why did they come here? What part of constitutional monarchy didn't they understand? With any luck they will leave and find another country, better suited to their needs.

I think all this rudeness and ill temper is the result of ignorance and envy, fuelled by an unusually hot and sticky summer.

The fact is, the Queen and her family give net economic benefit not only to the U.K., but also to Canada. The cost to the state is more than offset by the money brought in to the country due to the high level of interest in the monarchy and its history. The Queen pays income tax, a relatively recent innovation. Charles, the heir apparent, does not get money from the state and also pays tax.

But for now, as a Canadian citizen and British subject, I have no concerns or reservations about bowing to the Queen, whom I greatly admire. But there is not a damn thing she can do about it if I refuse to curtsy. Her power is strictly limited. She exists by the grace of her subjects. As Prince Charles put it in The Changing Anatomy of Britain by Anthony Sampson: "Something as curious as the monarchy won't survive unless you take account of people's attitudes... after all, if people don't want it, they won't have it."

If the majority of Canadians wants to be a republic, then so be it. We could do worse than to emulate our American cousins. But for now, our system seems to work as well, and, with a new baby making headlines, it's much more fun.

 

Marilyn Baker is a freelance writer in Richmond, B.C.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2013 A9

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