A Princess Parade of Millions

Elderly Elizabeth with a smile

Elizabeth II in 2007

It is the end of another month and for me that means a great deal of additional work; there are the monthly bills to pay, several deadlines requiring thousands of words locked in a dance meant to have a theme and some logic the guide the dancing feet and then there are some preparations for the new month to make.  It is also a weekend, which means I have two days free from my normal daily routine to use for that end-of-month stuff.  A weekend also means slower news and that too gives me a bit more time; across the world the biggest event was the royal wedding in England.

It seems everyone in the world was interested the pageantry.  In fact, I just listened to an hour presentation of the wedding and its implication for Britain on Al-Jazeera.  Speigel had a couple of editorials on the the meaning of the wedding and the monarchy to England and a great photo essay on the hats of Whitehall.  Even the Chinese People’s Daily had a couple of photos and a story about Chinese in London joining the festivities.  Actually, I don’t think it is surprising that the whole world watched the wedding; it is tradition at its best, hundreds of years of tradition culminating in a grand spectacle attended by millions of people gathered in the streets – and possible a billion or two watching around the world.  The wedding and the British traditions are perfect models for stability within tradition – even those arguing for the end of the monarchy found a safe and stable place within the celebration for their signs, slogans and anti-monarchy protests.

The events in Libya, Morocco, Yemen and Syria are getting much less attention today than Kate-used-to-be-middle-of-the-town and her beau.  And there are events worth noting, more died in Syria, a bombing in Morocco, Libyan troops entered Tunisia and demonstrators in Yemen are still in the streets.  Hamas and Fatah may be in the process of resolving their conflict and moving forward together – to help the west decide if a potential agreement is good for western agendas, Hamas immediately called for Fatah to withdraw its recognition of Israel – now that is a positive step toward peace in the region.

Compared with the royal wedding,  the violent struggles for change, representative governments and an open society are a very poor alternative.  In the end, I think that the most important example the western democracies can offer is not one-person one-vote, houses of common or senates, billion dollar election campaigns or bad-haired candidates, but rather it is stability and peaceful transition.  There are many things in England that might be changed for the better, just as there are in the United States, Germany or Canada, but  stability and a peaceful transfer of power are not among them.

Not that Kate is going to be sitting on a throne anytime soon (or next to the person on it); the Queen is just 85 years old and her mother lived to be 102.  I think the Queen will outlive her twice-married son, and that does makes Prince Willy the heir-in-waiting, but not for 17 or 20 years when the bright young man will be nearly 50 years old.  That the is one of the joys of tradition and more importantly until then (and afterward) England will be governed by a duly elected government, which will pay respect to the monarch, but not take direction from it. And one more thing, I think now poor Diana can now rest in peace, Britain has a new, young and pretty princess to worship. And now we have to get ready to rush off to Moscow for the next big pageant on the schedule – May Day in Moscow.


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