Danny Glenwright
Danny Glenwright

I’m tired of watching the royal family

While South Africans tallied votes from local government elections last week, the Queen of England visited Ireland. Just one of these events made most international headlines.

For some reason we are expected to care what this woman does. Almost 60 years on a throne she can claim as her own simply because she had the good fortune (or not) to be born into a certain family, and the world still acts as if this is all very normal indeed.

In the past 60 years we have seen the invention of everything from the microwave oven to the internet and the birth control pill. Every nation in Africa became independent, the Berlin Wall fell, “waves” of democracy saw the return, or introduction, of civilian rule on all corners of our diverse planet.

We get furious when the Gaddafis and Mobutus of the world have the nerve to cling to power for several decades yet this woman sits comfortably after more years on the throne than the life expectancy of most Africans.

We’ve learned a lot in the past 60 years, we’ve grown a lot, yet somehow vast swathes of us still find it completely acceptable that one family is better than us; one family should be allowed to rule and make decisions over others despite never being elected. Jolly good.

Or not.

South Africans saw the light and ditched the old girl and her tragic family. Well done to you. My country, Canada, and 16 other sovereign states including New Zealand, Jamaica and of course the UK, think it appropriate that she remain as head of state.

Poll after poll finds the royal family is still popular and beloved. The Australians may debate the end of their constitutional monarchy but the numbers show they don’t actually care for that option. Recent referendums in Tuvalu and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines both rejected the idea of getting rid of the monarchy.

This, in a day and age when some of us are busy trying to force our style of democracy down the throats of those poor folks in places like the Middle East where they just don’t quite get it yet. Right?

Some claim she is but a symbol, holding no real power. And this is true, sometimes. In Canada Queen Lizzie still adorns coins, postage stamps and other government type stuff.

Yet her vice-regal representative, the governor general, also makes important decisions, such as when she recently allowed the prime minister of Canada to suspend parliament when he didn’t want to address claims his government knew Afghan detainees were being tortured.

Yes, this did happen.

What about the British taxpayers who pay approximately £110 million into the Windsor family’s coffers every year? Think of the corgis and tiaras the average Joe could buy with that money.

Travel writer Bill Bryson said it best: “Isn’t it strange how wealth is always wasted on the rich?”

I don’t really see what the Brits get out of this family other than a few headlines? For example, an atrociously expensive spectacle of a royal wedding which was really no more than an attempt to bolster Piers Morgan’s pathetic CNN ratings and help the Windsor family get its groove back.

Sorry to those who needed a dose of “love” injected into an otherwise frightful news line-up. I suppose Princess Beatrice’s hat was a welcome relief from less important stories such as the Arab Spring and the nuclear disaster in Japan.

Watching the queen in Ireland this week I was struck by how truly unexciting she actually is. Commentators ooh and ahh over her garish potato sack dresses and tacky handbags.

The queen opens a hospital here, cuts a ribbon there, and why is this news?

Of course I’m sure she’s very lovely. Well preserved, witty, charming, patient, a fine piece of work. But so is my own mother or for that matter my grandmother, who is around the same age as her highness.

It’s a shame that in 1925 my grandmother was born to a poor French Canadian family and a year later Elizabeth II was born into the Windsor family. If only things had been reversed I could be Prince Harry and have my own state-funded royal household and do fun things like dress up as a Nazi, fly military helicopters in imperial wars and get away with calling fellow cadets Pakis and ragheads as Harry recently did.

The British have given so much to the world; they’ve also taken so much away. I wonder when they’ll rid us of this tired old rich family. I suspect when they do the queen herself might be the first to celebrate. One must get exhausted with all the glad-handing and garden parties. She could actually vacation somewhere without having to tour manure factories or officially open royal leper colonies.

Last week Time magazine (best used to start a fire or as toilet paper if you’re lost in the woods) asked a preposterous question. Would the queen’s visit end a century of British tension with Ireland? Hmm, I wonder.

I have a great respect for the Irish people and I suspect the queen’s “journey of reconciliation” will do little more than irritate many of them. I could be wrong but I think it will take more than a dazzling symbolic green outfit to repair a century of tension.

In the meantime, will somebody please pour Prince Philip another Guinness? I think the BBC has 30 seconds to fill between Strauss-Kahn-gate and riots in Syria.