I have always been fascinated by the Royalty so for me today R is for the Royalty. In the United Kingdom, I hear that there are mixed reactions to the Royalty. Some believe this ancient tradition should be carried on irrespective of the costs involved as they are a part of British heritage and culture. Others feel that today’s world has no need for the Royalty more so when they play largely ceremonial roles. As you know, in a parliamentary democracy, even the Queen has to abide by the advice of her Council of Ministers. This article in the BBC explains why the British seem to love their Monarchy.
I wonder how this interest developed in me. Perhaps it was because I was born in India and we too had our share of Rajas, Nawabs and Maharajas in the days when I grew up. Indeed there were as many as 565 of them when India became independent in 1947 . Of course they lost their ruling powers but continued to wield a lot of influence in their erstwhile kingdoms which varied in size from the huge to the tiny. The bigger States like Mysore, Kashmir and Hyderabad were larger than many countries in the world while the smallest were no bigger than little towns of a few square kilometres.
My grandfather had studied medicine in England and after World War I broke out, he found himself in the Indian Medical Service which was what the medical arm of the old British Indian Army was called in those days. His commission was granted by His Majesty King George V and I still have vivid memories of the photograph of this commission signed by the King himself.
I read avidly about the Royalty and at a young age I was impressed by King Edward VIII after reading his “A King’s Story.” My impressions of him however changed over time. Have you noticed that often what we found fascinating as kids changes as we acquire better perspective on growing older? Initially, I supported his stance which resulted in his abdication in 1936. I read every book I could lay my hands on about the Duke of Windsor (as he became after the abdication.) In comparison, his younger brother who became King George VI came across as being staid and lacklustre. However if you consider what each of them did during the Second World War, I recognised that the contributions of King George VI ( father of the present Queen, Elizabeth II) were significantly more than what Edward VIII could probably have done.
There was a renewed burst of interest recently in the Royalty when Prince William, and his wife, The Duchess of Cambridge had their first child, Prince George, who is now third in line to the throne of the United Kingdom. The little chap seems to have impressed people during his first Royal Tour to New Zealand.
How royalty will fare in the coming generations is anybody’s guess, but I for one am enthralled by the pomp and ceremony associated with it and believe it has a useful role even in these times.