Home > Culture, Current Affairs, Politics > The Triumph of the Will and Kate: Celebrity Culture and the Royals in Canada

The Triumph of the Will and Kate: Celebrity Culture and the Royals in Canada

I say, is that an airborne moose, what what?

I hate to harsh on everyone’s post-Canada Day suddenly-revived-monarchist buzz, but… okay, that’s a lie. It is my completely purposeful intention to harsh on that very buzz. My small-r republican principles are not easily inflamed, but the whole of my dubious nation prostrate before the Throne cannot go without comment.

To wit, the fawning display for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Parliament Hill in Ottawa was, if just benign enough to fall short of being disturbing, at least a teensy bit unnerving. Although the British Royal Family (are you supposed to capitalize it? I feel like I’m in a George R.R. Martin novel with all of these Ponderously Capitalized Titles) exercises less than zero actual power over the governing of its former North American colony, one can never discount the symbolic influence they continue to exercise as representatives of the decayed British Imperial order that granted this country its organizing principles.

That order, figurated as it was on white British supremacy, was directly responsible both for many of Canada’s most enduring institutions and most infamous imperialist abuses. It persists in the corridors of money and power while simultaneously possessing little or no paradigmatic ability when it comes to making sense of the multicultural, highly regional mosaic that constitutes this profoundly un-united nation-state. No wonder the Harper Conservatives, quietly fanatical opponents of every important national development that occured in the 1960s and ’70s, have embraced the opportunity to hitch their white supremacist political messaging wagon to such a suddenly-vigorous team of ponies. If you think a government minister openly and purposely referring to our national holiday as “Dominion Day” has nothing to do with this, then I’ve got a CPC membership and some “Will” and Kate commemorative coffee cups to sell you.

Of course, the sycophantic, starstruck reaction by ordinary Canucks to Windsors’ new golden couple may not have all that much to do with Stephen Harper’s devious masterplan to revert Canada to the Diefenbaker Era. It doesn’t even have absolutely everything to do with Canadians’ provincial sense of inferiority when compared to their former (technically, still current) colonial masters, though there surely must be a hint of that particular spice in the stew. Ultimately, the recent public-image renaissance of the British Royals here and elsewhere is nothing if not the natural result of the post-modern saturation-level culture of celebrity worship that Western capitalism pre-conditions.

Speak for yourself, you... sign.

After all, if even the merest, blandest Kardashian can become a “star” with their own endorsements and clothing lines and jewelry collections, then for what honest reason should the same spotlight of fame not be cast on a recumbent aristocrat and his marrying-up socialite wife? If pop singer Katy Perry can shut down the busiest intersection in the country to don a corny cat-suit and promote a perfume, then why not allow the second person in line to a purely vestigial European crown indirectly lecture his ex-empire’s putative colonists on the importance of continuing a morally and strategically questionable foreign war? If anything, the mixture of understated glamour and upper-crust gentility offered by the likes of the Duke and the Duchess contrasts favourably to the queasy all-American glitz of their gossip-rag contemporaries.

Beyond the vague concerns for notions of politics and nationalism that may are may not be salvagable in Canada’s case in any event, the rapturous reception for the couple whom Harper called “the world’s most famous newlyweds” (channeling the sycophantic tone of a certain son of a previous Conservative PM in the process) shows that their brand has some lasting power in the fickle public imagination. William and Catherine’s wedding was majestic romance purpose-built for TV, its combination of fairy-tale glamour and high-fashion elan marketed masterfully to the TLC/Slice middle-aged female demographic as well as to their more-easily-distracted daughters. The challenge for the royal couple from a PR perspective was maintaining the buzz, and what better way to do that than to take a victory lap amongst their easily-astonished colonial hordes in sleepy, forthright Canada? And my oh my, is it ever working. From here on in, it’s Will and Kate’s world, and we’re just blessed by their boundless feudal generosity in permitting us to live in it as well. That may inspire you and it may depress you, but it’s getting close to being undeniable at this point.

  1. Mary
    July 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Hear hear. I’ve never realized just how much of a small-r republican I was regarding the monarchy until the royal wedding.

    I’d like to think that there’s a portion of the population that still does not give a fuck, but that they’re obviously not going to be amongst the adoring crowds at Parliament Hill. Representations of adoration on the news do not necessarily equal mass adoration.

    My Canada does not need the royal family’s blessing.

  1. July 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm
  2. December 11, 2011 at 9:58 am
  3. May 22, 2012 at 6:58 am

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