Abdication of a Queen

28 January 2013 and the Dutch Queen announced in a television and radio speech it is time for her to abdicate (for ordinary people: retire) so her oldest son, Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander can become king on April 30th 2013. He will be the first Dutch king in 123 years, after King William III died in 1890 and his daughter Wilhelmina I became Queen, followed by two more queens.

Queen Beatrix I

Queen Beatrix I gave a number of reasons why she thinks it is time to let her son become the next Head of State. She will be 75 this year, and the royal house exists 200 year, time to celebrate the departure of a Queen after 33 years in office while celebrating a prince becoming king. Further, last year was also a very difficult year as her second son had a ski accident and is still in a coma.

But she also thinks as a mother who doesn't want her child has to wait until she dies before he can do the job he was born to do, showing the love of a mother for her child. She believes he is ready but until now she allowed him time to enjoy and raise his children. I think parents should indeed decide one day their children are ready for the job and trust them. Because if parents give the impression they think their children are not up to the job, how then can other people believe they can do it? I think it shows the love of the children towards their parents when they wait patiently so many years before becoming Head of State (in the past many would have fastened the change in position). But I also believe parents should believe their children can do it, certainly after they are being prepared for many years. Indeed, every new king or queen has to proof they are up to the job, and thus make wise or stupid decisions, making them respectively beloved or hated.

However, there may also be a darker side she didn't mention. Normally, the monarch in the Netherlands is a main figure in the formation of a new Dutch government and it seems the Queen was sidelined during the formation of the present government. The Queen was always a strong woman who liked to guide her ministers during their time in office. She was the person who would receive politicians, advice them and appoint someone to form the government. And then she was no longer asked, and still a government was formed. What was her role any longer? And thus this may have helped her in her decision to abdicate? She may not want to become a ceremonial Queen without any power.

Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander

And thus soon there will be a new king, his name will be King Willem-Alexander I. He seems to be a nice person, married to an Argentinian woman everyone loves. They have three children.

However, I heard the future king may not like a ceremonial kingship on the sideline, not being able to advice the government, not even during the formation of the government. Times are difficult for today's royals as fewer people listen to them and take them serious while many regard them more as a tourist attraction than as Head of State. Certainly after being forced to love politics during childhood as they were told that as adults they have to advice ordinary people, it can be expected some will find it hard to have no influence at all in such a short period.

And thus, maybe Queen Beatrix hopes her son will find it easier than she in accepting the new role of the monarchy. Although there may always be a possibility King Willem-Alexander I may make the mistake that he refuses to stand on the sideline but wants to advice too much the politicians; then his popularity will decline very rapidly. Also elsewhere some princes don't like not advising politicians: it is known PM Tony Blair was very frustrated with interventions from Crown-Prince Charles.

European (and other) royals

But Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander is lucky because in Europe most princes and princesses have to wait for the death of the monarch (their parent) who, it seems, may never die. And as these princes and princesses become older, people start questioning their competence. For instance, in Belgium, many people think our Crown-Prince Philippe is not ready, and people have the impression that even his father doesn't believe he is as the king refuses to consider to abdicate. I think the prince is ready and behaves within his role, but people are no longer used to people who are calm and serious about the job they have to do. People now expect interesting people are always in the spotlights and are quickly promoted, even within a few years after leaving school (read my previous article about bankers who became responsible about billions of money before they are 30, and then almost destroyed the bank because they were not yet ready). And thus people who can wait and prepare themselves are today often regarded as losers. In the past, patience was often regarded as a virtue (if one did not have to wait for eternity), and it allowed people who were less talented to gain experience and proof their competence at a higher age. Today there are young people (around 20) who become politicians before they have any understanding of the world. And although some people are able to proof themselves when young, many others become jealous, loose patience and want to advance too quickly and then suffer a burnout of which they may never recover.

Not only their competence is questioned, but they become less liked by the people as the royals have children who are younger and thus more handsome while they have little children themselves and thus look cuter than the older crown-princes or crown-princesses. The younger royals are the fantasy of many people.

And thus people start questioning some heirs, and whether it would be wiser to take the brother or sister, or the younger generation instead of the eldest. And then the game becomes dangerous. Indeed, one can imaging that some of these people who waited patiently many years to become king or queen and then are refused the title, become angry. Because, indeed, one can't change the order of succession simply because one person is considered too old and people fancy one person over another. In comparison, as most of us live longer in good health, it will be more likely most of us will have to work until a high age, and we too would not like it to be considered too old for the job we like. Thus, I think the laws should be respected unless it is obvious someone isn't fit. But in general, as monarchies become ceremonial, even a mad king or queen should not be a problem. But one can see in the Middle-East what people who think the right to rule is theirs can do to their citizens when people decide it is no longer their right. What may royals do when their future is threatened when they still have the support of the army? Our king was banging his fists on the table in a televised speech because he was angry the negotiations to form a Belgium government took too long, threatening the existence his kingdom.

Of course, Parliament should be able to change the laws, but not because we don't like a person becomes king or queen (e.g. if all quiet people would be considered as not fit for a job, then many talented people would not have work) but because we think people should be able to choose their Head of State and thus choose the prince or princess they like. But then we start to come close to the election of a President, also not very good for the future of princess and princesses.

But I feel sorry for them, having to wait many years for that one job that was promised to them by the nation by their birth. Even worse is the position of the younger brothers and sisters: why were they born? They can lead charities, but even then they have to be very careful and diplomatic. In Belgium we have a good example of a prince who can't do anything as whatever he does he is criticised. I think many of these people should consider to distance themselves from the possibility of succession so they become free to do the things they really like.

If they are free from succession and they like politics, certainly after all the training they received as youngsters, they can decide to go into politics, become elected and thus represent people in Parliament. Or they can lead charities as many do, but as man or woman with more freedom, no longer being criticised over every decision they take or people they meet, although of course they will continue being watched as people love stories about royals. But then, when they do bad deals, judges can judge them as every person and thus they will be responsible for their own actions. Because I can imaging it is very disturbing continuously being treated as a bad little boy or girl who is not allowed to make one misstep although without being punished for the missteps they make while everyone else is allowed to make missteps although being judged when mistakes are made.

But then, some of them make missteps. E.g. they have children outside marriage while they speak about the holiness of marriage (one calls this hypocrisy). And when they make mistakes, they should accept the consequences and e.g. not abandon their child or they should not speak about good parenthood. Or they can tell people not to judge them as ordinary people can also have fun; aristocrats could explain they are only human and (certainly their) youngsters are allowed to enjoy life. But people will always judge those in power, certainly people who make the same mistakes as those in power but want to focus attention on others while many in power will deny making any mistakes. Another example is royals that shoot elephants although they are an important member of the WWF, and afterwards they wonder why people are angry.

And of course, people in power have to behave well and not, as recently happened, give a bad example by trying to place money in a funds to reduce paying taxes; as a result the royal lost €500,000 donations a year. Others face even jail because their privileged position was not good enough, they wanted more and thus committed fraud. Times indeed are changing for aristocrats, where society no longer accepts they misbehave while they like stories to informs them how they misbehave.

Republicans

Republicans are allowed to say that a presidential system is the best as each and every member of society can decide to become the Head of State, and become elected if the people believe the person is the best for the position. Although I don't think their argument that a president is cheaper is correct as the president is paid but also his/her administration.
Jewels belonging to what was ones a kingdom: France. And although the monarch disappeared more than 100 years ago, still their descendants are known and thus can't really live a normal live.

It is the right of each society to decide whether or not they want a king or queen as their Head of State, and thus nobody should ridicule those celebrating their monarch, those waiting for their destiny to be fulfilled or those who prefer a president. When they behave stupid, then the people will decide their time in power is over. And then they can accept their new destiny and sign the abdication papers, or be removed by force. But as long as they behave, why should people not want them?

And even when they behave but the majority of the people no longer want them, then they have to accept this. It may even liberate them as from that moment onwards they become free people, their children become free people and they can do whatever they like and marry whoever they love. But I think republicans are not right when they say people should not accept their monarch and ridicule them as that is not nice and has no intellectual value. On the contrary, it may even ridicule the republicans and make people feel sorry for their royals.

In conclusion, I think it doesn't matter whether a country is a monarchy or a presidency, as long as the people are happy with their ruler. Because both can be good or bad. But it should be the people who decide what they want. Although I think many aristocrats would feel free if they would abolish their title and do that what they like to do. A British king ones abdicated for the love of a woman. Although ridiculed, I think he was very brave because, as the people didn't accept his chosen wife, they rejected him, and he accepted that. And thus afterwards, it was easier for him to live the life he wanted (although of course media were still interested in whatever he did).

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