William and Kate are, simultaneously, `A` list celebrities and exemplars of Royalty. Yet, these are different worlds.
Our mass mediated celebrity culture celebrates vitality, beauty, glamour and fame. These qualities are attributed to luminaries from the worlds of film, music, fashion and sport. Certain political leaders and aristocrats also attract publicity. Celebrities are commodities which generate revenue for television, radio, newspapers and magazines.
Social media ensures a 24/7 diet of celebrity shots, clips and tweets for besotted fans. Monarchy, on the other hand, is premised on hereditary. Kings and Queens rule until they die or abdicate, irrespective of whether they are regarded as celebrities. And, heirs to the throne are pre-ordained, irrespective of their brains, looks or likeability. In a celebrity drenched world monarchies will sometimes put up individuals who are ugly, boring, nutty or ideologically extreme (in the latter case just think of Edward the Eighth,Wallis Simpson and German Nazism in the late 1930s). The problem now is that William an Kate are beloved and Charles pales in comparison. According to poll results published in the Daily Telegraph last November, 35 per cent of Britons thought Charles should cede succession to Prince William. Fifty two per cent favoured Prince to take the throne (14 November). The headline for the Telegraph piece `Britons want Prince Charles to be next King` should perhaps have read `A bare majority of Britons want Prince Charles to be the next King`.
For monarchists this is a bit disturbing; 35 per cent of Britons wish to abandon the heredity principle. Twenty years ago the numbers were much higher. Polls then suggested that over 60 per cent of Britons did not want Charles as the next King. We know why of course; Diana sparkled radiantly at the expense of Charles and the Windsors. Diana`s sons have carried on the glamour, the arrival of Kate and a new heir has magnified the spectacle.
Unfortunately, heirs to the throne must wait their turn, sometimes interminably. The latest NZ Womans Weekly cover, inadvertently illustrates my point;- `Kia Ora to our future King George`. Upon scanning this headline my first thought was, `when will that be?`.
Let’s work this out.
Queen Elizabeth is 87, her mother made it to 101. If we give the Queen another decade, Charles will become king at 75. A reign of 20 years would end in 2044. By then, William will be hitting 60 and George 30. With advancements in medical care William could become a centenarian like his great grandmother. George would then become King in 2084 at age 70.
The situation here is obvious.
The heredity principle coupled with increased life expectancy equals gerontocracy, a form of rule at odds with celebrity culture. Elderly monarchs and their consorts will always be upstaged by the glamorous among their progeny, until they too pass their sell by date. Monarchists should not be smug. Behind the glitz and glamour of the young Royals there resides a decrepit institution which rewards longevity over talent.