Wait… don’t I usually finish with that? Well, I’m all topsy-turvy today, with slightly misplaced royalist excitement. Being a first-generation Canadian as I am, at least on my father’s side, the passing along of the sceptre and associated bits in The Netherlands is a bigger deal for me than it really should be. Thus, a splendid pen with somewhat modern lines, and an ink whose colour honours the royal house– and it’s being used for just about everything today, as the desk pen is being left only for sombre matters of business.
The most foolish reason of several which I have for my current confused giddiness is the need to rethink the gender of the Dutch crown. Three queens in a row, two of whom have been in charge during my lifetime… it’s rather difficult to shift to thinking of precedence in toasts starting with “King”.
I know that it’s not really fashionable in this highly democratic age, but I rather like the notion of royalty. While history offers some extremely dubious objects to be found inserted between crown and throne, the ideal royal family is a very useful item. One of the great ills of most modern governments is that, however those involved might protest the contrary, their vision is limited to the distance between now and the next election, and their policy is more dictated by keeping the other lot (oh, the immoral scoundrels!) from office than any positive concern. A monarchy, which is only slightly concerned about elections, can and should take a longer view, thinking not “how will things stand five years hence?” but rather looking at the heirloom value of their nation; will it be in fit shape for continued use when the great grand-children come to take it over? This can lead to slight blindness regarding innovation and change (as we watchers of Downton Abbey have seen), but the advantages can be enormous in terms of the general well-being of the population. Ideally.
The event also beings along a contemplation with the notion of abdication. Those three queens I mentioned above have all stepped down voluntarily in favour of their successors, and enjoyed (or so I hope) years of retirement and relaxation. Koninkrijk der Nederlanden has endured through these orderly changes essentially intact, despite the two major wars Europe threw in the course of them. I look to my own queen, Elizabeth Secundus, and I wonder… what’s the problem, Liz? Charles is a rather more suitable candidate for the crown than was, let’s say by way of example, the reprobate Prince Bertie when his mom finally keeled over. I suspect people in England and the rest of the Commonwealth would not break out in open rebellion against the established order, and a number of us would respect the institution more than we do now.
But, I guess Windsors will be Windsors (now that they’re not Saxe-Cobergs) and cling tenaciously to their thrones, while the funky Orange-Nassau bunch get up to their free-wheeling antics. I heard this morning that Willem-Alexander’s installation had substantially reduced the average age of European crowned heads, and that’s bound to be a good thing.
For what little it’s worth, I deeply approve of the new names of ruling couple, since my father may finally be able to stop explaining how to spell his own first name with a famous example in the news (although Willem Dafoe didn’t turn the trick) and it’s going to be very hard for another country to come up with something cooler than Queen Maxima. A quick review of the other houses shows no Galactus von Doom in the wings. In any event, long life to Willem-Alexander and Maxima, as long a reign as you think is appropriate, and a merry retirement party to Beatrix.