Let me start by saying that I hope Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge are delivered of a healthy, gorgeous, super chubby baby this month.
Let me also say that I really covet that Dalmatian Hobbs coat Kate wore to smash champagne against a ship a few weeks ago, and am accepting hand-me-downs without shame.
For months now, the gossip rags have been prodding me to coo over Kate’s maternity wardrobe, and to compare her still-slender bod and refined taste to the outré fashion choices and here-there-everywhere lady lumps of reality-TV star Kim Kardashian (who was equally pregnant until last week). The endless split-screen magazine covers shouting rumours about both women circled me back around to a long-time nagging thought: Are the Royals celebrities, or politicians, or what, exactly?
All this chatter about preggo fashion is a distraction from a more important issue, the nonsensical fact that this unborn fetus is all but guaranteed to one day be our head of state.
Yes, it matters. In 2009, says Macleans, the per capita annual cost to support the Royal Family was more in Canada than in Britain: we give them $1.53 each over here, compared to $1.32 per Briton over there. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but Queen Elizabeth’s worth is estimated at $500 million, which includes some fancy old buildings, a giant cache of sparkly rocks, and a coach made of actual gold. I’m not quite sure why she needs our piddling $50 million, especially when we’ve got a bunch of places that could use it.
Money aside, the Royals have baggage. My family is from Trinidad (former British colony) via India (former British colony), and thanks to generations of lost languages and low status, we’ve lost track of most of our ancestors: as far as I know, my maternal great-great-grandmother was named “Old Fat Nanny.” Meanwhile wealth and privilege allows the Windsors to meticulously track their bloodlines and successions, linking Wills and his almost-child to prestigious decisions such as getting into the African slave trade (King Charles I), taking millions in resources out of India as the natives of that country starved (King George II), and telling Canada’s aboriginals they needed to sign a pledge to live as a white man and possess “good moral character” in order to be given the vote (Queen Victoria, and she never gave it to them).
Building on this impressive history, the current spare heir, Prince Harry, thought it would be cool to dress as a Nazi for Halloween not so long ago. Then, last fall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought their blockbuster honeymoon tour to Tuvalu, where their pale, healthy bodies were carried on a ceremonial palanquin by dark-skinned Pacific Islanders, whose life expectancy is 65 years. Somehow the fresh young royals haven’t convinced me that the monarchy has become particularly modern – or that they need public money more than other residents of the Commonwealth.
In more exciting monarchial times, the way to depose the current wearer of the Crown would be sneaky, delicious murder. These days, the Royals enjoy the much more civilized criminal code of an elected government (despite their ignoring rules and practices as it suits them – that cheeky Prince Charles is currently trying to hide a £102-million, capital-gains-tax-free land transaction).
So they can keep their heads, but it’s time to get their bums out of those publicly owned thrones.
I hope the royal baby is super chubby and super cute and I will happily read everything the gossip rags print about its outfits. Said baby’s birth will be a perfect moment for its parents transition into real jobs. Like proper 21st-century celebrities, they can make a cameo appearance on Kim Kardashian’s reality show, then quickly spin it off into their own series. Everybody’s already watching.
Denise Balkissoon is a Toronto writer and co-editor of The Ethnic Aisle, a blog about ethnic and cultural pluralism in the Greater Toronto Area.