Americans are republicans, so it seems perhaps not entirely an American thing, to be pro-monarchy. But there is something to be said for the British royals, at least as they used to pull it off. True, there is something inherently “unfair” about a system that elevates someone by virtue of the family to which they are born. But is there really so much difference, between a Prince Harry and a Prince Hunter? They both have opportunities presented to them due solely to their names, but at least Prince Harry hasn’t sold out to China.
It’s a natural human inclination to admire or hold up someone in a group as someone somehow superior in certain respects, at least, to others, someone to perhaps model ourselves after. Every high school in America crowns each autumn a Homecoming King and Queen. But homecoming royals notwithstanding, in high school and beyond, pop culture predominates, and tends to hold up celebrities and athletes as these models for ourselves. It’s not entirely clear this is an advancement over royalty.
The very word “royal” is synonymous with the highest possible standards. From getting the royal treatment to booking the royal suite, use the word “royal” as a descriptor and it’s referring to the grandest, the biggest, the highest, the best. There’s a reason the royal straight flush is the highest possible poker hand (unless you’re the type who plays with jokers).
Unfortunately, all too often, the British royals, the world’s most prominent, fail spectacularly to live up to even decent standards, let alone royal standards. From King Edward VIII to Prince Charles to Princess Margaret to Prince Andrew to Prince Harry, the Windsors have steeped themselves in a miasma of sex scandals, mostly. With evidence like Edward VIII’s abdication of the throne in favor of a tarty American divorcée and Prince Andrew’s apparent Jeffrey Epstein-fed taste for underage children, an argument that royals can set standards tends to end with the question, how low?
Which makes Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, stand even taller, even from six feet deep in his newly dug grave, as the great British royal, the one-time Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, has finally, at the age of 99, passed to the next world.
Adventurer, pilot, sailor and yachtsman, consort of the Queen, Prince Philip helped sink Italian cruisers and destroyers as a 19-year-old midshipman during World War II, in a battle in the Mediterranean Sea opposite the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Taenarum, and he was the first British royal to cross the Antarctic Circle, on an expedition aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1956-57.
He was also patron to some 800 organizations, helping to found the World Wildlife Fund, for which he served as UK president for over twenty years.
He carried himself with distinction and class and humor, and truly did set a royal standard. It’s a standard his grandson, Prince William would do well to imitate, if there’s to be any hope for the Windsors.
Otherwise, well, there must be other European royals capable of setting a royal standard. I mean, this is the land of fairy tale castles, right?
Is there a Hapsburg in the house?