Why Prince Charles Should Be Chucked Out of the Country

2 11 2009

Prince Charles and his wife arrived in Newfoundland a few hours ago to begin their tour of Canada. Their arrival has re-started the debate about the future of the monarchy in Canada, with many columnists using the tour as an occasion to pontificate about what should be done. See here, here, and here. Lord Black of Crossharbour has published a lengthy article in the National Post on this issue.

Acting with impeccable timing, the CanWest newspapers have published the results of an Ipsos-Reid survey of Canadian attitudes to the monarchy. They show that a small majority Canadians want Canada to become republic.

Charles,_Prince_of_Wales in 2005

Prince Charles in 2005, in White House Rose Garden

The tour of Canada has been billed as Charles’s last chance to convince Canadians that he should be allowed to become their king. I’m not certain whether he will win Canadians over. In fact, he appears to have already made a serious error, for his first speech of the tour loudly praised Canada for sending troops to fight in the Anglo-American War in Afghanistan. Unfortunately for the Prince, most Canadians oppose the presence of Canadian troops in that country. The Prince has given the appearance of trying to interfere in Canada’s internal politics— Canada has announced that it is pulling out of Afghanistan, whereas Britain and the United States are ramping up their efforts there. Most Canadians probably think that a sufficient number of Canadians died for King and Empire in the twentieth century and that we need no sequels.

The Prince, who is the honorary colonel of no less than eight Canadian regiments, will visit several military bases in Canada. By associating himself with a very unpopular cause, Charles is doing himself no favours. The Canadian military and its traditions are a reflection of Canada’s colonial past and the political culture of Atlantic Canada, the most ethnically British part of the country. The problem for the Prince is that Atlantic Canada and the military represent Canada’s past, not its future. Canadians of British ancestry are a dying breed, with a birthrate even lower than that of francophone Quebeckers. The traditions of the Canadian military, such as playing “Rule Britannia” whenever a ship enters port, are literally laughable to Canadians descended from the post-1945 waves of immigration and indeed anyone familiar with the course of world history since, say, 1897.

If Charles wishes to ingratiate himself to the multicultural Canada of the present, he needs to do a walkabout in the shopping centres of Toronto and Vancouver. While in Vancouver, he might apologize for the racist anti-Asian remarks made by his father. The Prince might also talk to the workforce of Calgary’s office towers or the scientists in Waterloo who are working on genetically modifying crops.  This would allow him to see the future being made. Unfortunately, the Prince doesn’t believe in shopping centres and office towers, preferring organic farmer markets and traditional cottage architecture to consumerism, freeways, GM foods, Blackberries, and modern buildings.

Poundbury, the experimental pseudo-medieval town recently built by Prince Charles in Dorset, represents his vision of the future: white people in Tudorbethan homes eating organic food. It has little resemblance to the world inhabited by most modern Britons. It is even more alien to the values of most Canadians.

Opposed as he is to so much of capitalist modernity, Prince Charles is reactionary in the deepest sense of the word. He is also represents the most pathetic last vestiges of British militarism. He would be a singularly inappropriate head of state for Canada, a country that values technology, consumerism, multiculturalism, and peace. His values are antithetical to our most fundamental values.



5 responses

3 11 2009

For the record, *I* also prefer organic farmer markets and traditional architecture to consumerism, freeways, GM foods, and Blackberries.

3 11 2009
Kevin Tennent

While not a massive flag waver for the Royals, I would say that from the UK perspective nowadays I tend to prefer keeping the Monarchy rather than the alternative, probably President Tony Blair or similar *shudders*. Charles is someone I have a lot of time for; he has really worked to restore confidence in the Monarchy since its nadir around the death of Princess Diana in 1997. He has also supported, via the Princes Trust, a lot of young entrepreneurs, and appreciates the difficult generally faced by innovators in getting their products to market. I don’t see whats wrong with taking a viewpoint that favours sustainability – in the future we will need to shift to a much more sustainable model of consumption than at present, and if Charles wants to nudge business in this direction I’m all for it. As for Afghanistan he can only lend his support to those that unfortunately have to take part in this conflict – I’m as anti-Afghan war as you can get, but I do appreciate that the guy has to do his job as regimental figurehead. In terms of architecture while most Brits do not live in a place like Poundbury I don’t see whats wrong with aspiring to improve urban environments, many of which in this country are depressing and discourage social cohesion. I don’t see why these themes aren’t important in Canada too – if Canada is as forward looking as you suggest, then it should be trying to lead among settler economies in improving sustainability, because that really is the only way forward today.

3 11 2009

Hi Claire, what about Afghanistan?

Hi Kevin,
A ceremonial presidency on the Irish/German model might be a good substitute for the monarchy. Re the environment, I’m a “bright green” environmentalist. I think that global warming is the biggest challenge facing our species, but the solution involves a carbon tax imposed by elected politicians, not a Prince mucking about with organic manures. A carbon tax might well discourage people from living in Poundbury type places. One of the most eco ways to live is in a high-rise apartment within walking distance of a metro or subway station. To solve the climate problem, we need to embrace markets (carbon pricing), incentivize corporate R&D, and use new technologies (a high speed train between Toronto and Montreal would get people out of their cars). If we want to really help the environment, Canada’s future might look more like Japan and Singapore and less like Poundbury.

5 11 2009
Jim Clifford

Is Claire only allowed to accept all or none of your blog post? I share Charles’ views concerning local and organic food and your views on Afghanistan and the need to make Canada a republic. Sadly our elected leadership is no better than our monarch’s son on the Afgan issues, so its a bit of a false choice.

Like Claire, I was a little turned off when you started attacking everything about the man. He could be a perfectly wonderful man or a total ass, but that does not change the issue. Monarchy is a terribly anachronistic political system, even if its only symbolic. I think it is high time for us to grow up and make Canada a full democracy. I sure hope I can continue to work for a more sustainable food system in the meantime.

3 11 2009
Andrew Ross

Is this what you told the National Post? (Or was it the G&M)?

I might point out that referring to Mr Black as Lord Black of Crossharbour is another residue of the monarchy…

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