On Monday, Queen Elizabeth II finally confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be packing their bags for Canada—part of their plan to “step back” from royal duties and “carve out a progressive new role” within the monarchy, whatever that may mean. In the days since, Canadians have been bombarded with all manner of royal gossip, trivia and overproduced TV segments in anticipation of the royal duo’s arrival. However, most Canadians do not share this jubilant attitude towards the Royal Family.
In a recent poll by Angus Reid, 25 per cent of Canadians said the Royal Family is less relevant today, with 41 per cent saying they have no relevance at all. In Quebec, support for the monarchy falls to as low as 16 per cent. Even less exciting is the prospect of footing the bill for Harry and Meghan’s security—which even the lowest estimates peg at $1.7 million a year. In the same poll, 73 per cent of Canadians say they have no interest in paying for the duo’s security. If they want to come, they can defend themselves.
This is not at all difficult to understand. After successive Liberal and Conservative governments showering our corporate masters with billions in handouts, tax cuts and special treatment, workers in Canada are not too excited with the prospect of footing the bill for the expenses of more unelected parasites.
However, not all share in the public’s growing distaste for the monarchy. While most of us could not care less about where the unemployed duo ends up, Canada’s press has spared no efforts in rolling out the red carpet for our foreign rulers. “Britain’s loss would be our gain,” reads one Toronto Star headline. “This isn’t about Harry or Meghan. It’s about Canadians being cheapskates,” reads another headline in the National Post. But these headlines only scratch the surface of the servility of the Canadian press.
A tour of the peanut gallery
Heading up the royal welcoming crew is the Toronto Star. “We don’t want to seem too eager. But it’s hard,” says one, very real editorial. Their eagerness is matched only by their concern for these two nomads: “There’s so much to work out,” the Star writes. “What exactly does ‘step back’ mean? How are the Duke and Duchess going to become financially independent while retaining a measure of royal dignity? What about security? And where in the end are they going to live?”
Of course, any worker could easily provide an answer to this question, though it may not be an entirely polite one.
The Toronto Sun, typically suspicious of foreigners, has taken an unusual liking to these particular immigrants. “We welcome Harry and Meghan to spend time in Canada, even extended periods of time,” reads one recent editorial. Unfortunately, their gratitude doesn’t extend to all other, non-royal migrants.
Some, like The Globe and Mail, offer a more intellectual defence of the Royal Family. In their editorial, they say:
Britain is the inventor of one of the world’s great innovations in government: a monarchy that reigns but does not rule. Canada took that system and improved it, by pushing it one step further. The Canadian monarchy is virtual; it neither rules nor resides. Our royals don’t live here. They reign from a distance. Close to our hearts, far from our hearths.
Poetry! However, they neglect to mention that our “virtual” Queen also has the power to remove the prime minister at will—as was done in Australia in 1975. Also ignored is how the Governor General, who stands in for the Queen on Canadian soil, has prorogued Canada’s Parliament twice in the last 20 years. But why let that ruin a good story?
The royal hullabaloo is so infectious, even former NDP leader Tom Mulcair has joined the frenzy. In fact, he has quickly become one of the most outspoken defenders of Harry and Meghan’s security costs. In a recent op-ed, he had this to say for those who think otherwise: “Get over it,” Mulcair writes. “As long as we’re part of the Commonwealth and Elizabeth II is our Head of State, they’re part of the bargain and, yep, we get to help with their security. They’ve paid dearly enough to have earned it.”
And yet, this poor old man still wonders why he lost the 2015 election.
The press, the Crown and us
In the royals, Canada’s press finds a mirror image of itself: hopelessly out of touch and contemptuous of the working poor. Both also share in the business of hand-waving: one literally, the other when describing the “catastrophic” impacts of a $15 minimum wage, the “perils” of Muslim immigration and so on.
This issue demonstrates a clear class divide on the question of the monarchy. For the rich and the capitalist media, they fawn over the monarchs and do everything in their power to try to convince us of their necessity.
For most everyone else, the Royal Family represents everything that is wrong with society: a club of filthy rich, out-of-touch elites who serve no social purpose and who deserve less than no attention—let alone taxpayer money. Luckily, the attempts of these columnists have fallen on deaf ears, since they are just as detached from reality as the monarchs they adore.