Why Cana­di­ans should boy­cott the royal wed­ding

The Hamilton Spectator - - Opinion - BOB HEP­BURN Bob Hep­burn is a pol­i­tics colum­nist and based in Toronto. Fol­low him on Twit­ter: @BobHep­burn

Let me state right at the top that I think Prince Harry is a fine chap, that Meghan Markle seems like a lovely woman, that I wish the royal cou­ple all the best on their wed­ding day, and that I be­lieve Queen El­iz­a­beth has reigned with grace.

Prince Harry greatly im­pressed me as I watched him close-up sev­eral times last Septem­ber in Toronto dur­ing the In­vic­tus Games, the truly fabulous an­nual event he founded in 2014 for wounded, in­jured and sick armed forces per­son­nel.

By most ac­counts, Meghan will be a great mem­ber of the Bri­tish royal fam­ily.

And El­iz­a­beth has served with hon­our dur­ing her 66 years on the throne.

Still, I won’t be get­ting up at 4 a.m. on Satur­day to watch the royal wed­ding live from Wind­sor Cas­tle in Eng­land.

Nor will I be celebrating Vic­to­ria Day this week­end here in Canada, a day where we are asked to hon­our a queen who ruled over the Bri­tish Em­pire in the days when this coun­try was widely viewed in Lon­don as just an­other colo­nial out­post.

In­deed, there are plenty of rea­sons for all Cana­di­ans to boy­cott the royal wed­ding and this week­end’s Vic­to­ria Day events.

While monar­chists will likely be ap­palled by my sug­ges­tion, polls in Bri­tain and Canada show I’m far from be­ing alone in not car­ing a whit about the wed­ding.

In Bri­tain, more than half of those sur­veyed say they are to­tally in­dif­fer­ent; in Canada, 66 per cent of us aren’t in­ter­ested in the wed­ding at all, ac­cord­ing to an Ip­sos MORI poll of adults aged un­der 65 in 28 coun­tries. Also, tens of thou­sands of Bri­tons have signed pe­ti­tions against tax­pay­ers hav­ing to foot any wed­ding bills.

First among the rea­sons to boy­cott the wed­ding is its cost. It will be one of the world’s most ex­pen­sive wed­dings ever at 32 mil­lion Bri­tish pounds (more than $55 mil­lion), a self-in­dul­gent bash with a wed­ding cake cost­ing $87,000 and a wed­ding dress ru­moured to be more than $170,000, ac­cord­ing to the Daily Mail. What sort of mes­sage of greed and ex­trav­a­gance does that send, es­pe­cially to peo­ple try­ing to make ends meet?

Sec­ond, such lav­ish wed­dings, as only the Bri­tish can do with their over-the-top pageantry, pro­mote an out­dated “fairy­tale-princess” nar­ra­tive in which the hand­some prince sweeps a beau­ti­ful com­moner off her feet and turns her into a royal lady. Is that an im­age to­day’s young women should aspire to?

Third, it cel­e­brates an anachro­nis­tic monar­chy that’s an af­front to to­day’s Canada. While there is al­most zero chance Prince Harry will ever be­come king — he’s al­ready sixth in line to suc­ceed his grand­mother and fall­ing back fast — he rep­re­sents a Bri­tish monar­chy whose leader is, sadly, still Canada’s le­gal head of state. Even to­day, the Queen’s im­age is on our stamps and coins, peo­ple still sing “God Save the Queen” and new cit­i­zens must swear “true al­le­giance” to the Queen.

For the same rea­son, we should boy­cott Vic­to­ria Day, a na­tional hol­i­day on which we are sup­posed to show our de­vo­tion and re­spect for a foreign monarch who ruled our coun­try for decades yet never even both­ered to visit. The Bri­tish don’t hon­our any for­eigner, let alone a Cana­dian, with a spe­cial day, so why should we?

Fourth, it per­pet­u­ates a clear sen­ti­ment among the royals that they can do what­ever they wish with­out re­gard for any back­lash, from lav­ish wed­dings to the re­cent rig­ging of a de­ci­sion by Com­mon­wealth lead­ers to pick Prince Charles — as op­posed to any qual­i­fied per­son from the en­tire Com­mon­wealth — to suc­ceed the Queen as their new head.

Fifth, it’s a bore, filled with tiny tid­bits of gos­sip dredged up by be­sot­ted tele­vi­sion hosts about who’s wear­ing what and who’s sit­ting where.

I know I won’t be able to hide from the wed­ding. The me­dia cov­er­age will be mas­sive, the­atres are show­ing it on big screens and neigh­bour­hoods are hav­ing break­fast par­ties.

I hope they have fun, but I’ll be sleep­ing in on Satur­day

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