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Friday, May 27, 2005

Too precious 

Betty and Phil Windsor's recent trip to Canada was generally greated with breathless enthusiasm by the Canadian press, who are particularly lickspittle when it comes to matters royal. In contrast to the healthy disdain shown by many Australian reporters, for example, Canadian TV and print media are awash with stories of her good deeds, hard work, radiant appearance, and rapturous reception.

However, being born into a family that just so happens to have a monopoly on being the Head of State for 20-some countries comes with its hardships, you know (in addition to such things as maintaining your palaces and dealing with errant children who have no purpose in life).

But the final indignity is that Betty was asked to give a big smile by a portrait photographer. You know, like everyone else is.

One of the inherent problems of a monarchy is the notion that a small number of people, by virtue of their birth or marriage into one particular family, are somehow worthy of a different (higher) standard of treatment than everyone else. Even those persons who actually have a mandate from the people cannot hope to attain this. For example, a photographer asking the PM of a country like NZ or Canada to give a "big smile" might be considered a bit cheeky, but would not be accused of acting inappropriately.

As for the other "indignities" Betty is alleged to have "suffered" on her trip to Canada - "almost being poked in the eye by an umbrella" (like everyone else on a rainy day in a big city anywhere in the world - she was lucky it was almost) and "Alberta Premier Ralph Klein keeping his hands in his pockets" (so the guy's a slob, what's new?).

Really, when the largest hardships in this woman's life are minor breaches of supposed protocols extended to her and no one else (like Paul Keating briefly putting his arm around her, or Helen Clark wearing pants not a skirt to a royal dinner) she hasn't got much to complain about. And what is it about New Zealand and forcing women to wear skirts ...?

Really, it's enough to make you go home a give your kids a good horse-whipping (not illegal in this country!)


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