The Monarchy is Dead! Long Live the Republic!

Thankfully the Queen isn’t dead. But what happens when she dies? I know that technically the eldest child inherits and becomes the new monarch of the UK, the Commonwealth and the Dominions. That being said, QE2 has been reigning since 1953, 65 years, nearly half of Canada’s time as a nation, and most of Canada’s time as an independent state. Under HRM Elizabeth II Canada repatriated its constitution and nearly broke up fixing the damn thing. Queen E has become synonymous with the Canadian Crown and I find it difficult to imagine a world without the old lady. I know others have the same feeling because I have heard the term “Canadian Republic” bandied about. That’s how iconic this woman has become; her death could signify the end of Canada’s Parliamentary Monarchy.

While I don’t believe any Canadian politicians have enough nerve to promote a republic, the same cannot be said about the Commonwealth. Last month the Telegraph reported how the Commonwealth has started to debate whether it was necessary for the monarch to be the head of the Commonwealth after the Queens death. Apparently, it is not written that Commonwealth leadership is hereditary which has left the door open to not have Charles lead it. Part of the sticking point is that there are fifty-three Commonwealth states, only sixteen of which have the British monarchy as their head of state.

Personally, I think the Commonwealth is underused, especially the Realms (those with the Monarch as head of state). In a post Brexit world, I think the UK will have three options on the table: go it alone hacking out mediocre trade deals, become a minor partner of the USA, or try and reinvigorate the Commonwealth as an economic/trade partnership. The latter might reek of colonialism, but maybe only if the monarch was the head of the Commonwealth.

A Welsh friend of mine is appalled about Canadians apathy towards the monarchy, he believes we should be a republic. I just don’t see the point of the change. I am probably a royalist, I like the monarchy as an institution. I think it adds a to the Canadian identity and connects us with our history. That being said, I understand his trepidation towards the Monarchy, the relationship of the Welsh, Scots, and Irish with the English Crown has not always benevolent. Where in Canada (if you aren’t from one of the First Nations) the crown is an ethereal concept that we have no relationship with.

In a world where Western Countries are weakening and disgarding their political institutions I find myself clinging to the longevity of the Crown.

Vive la Reine!

Greece Part II

What really struck me in Greece and has lingered in my mind since then is nationalism in Greece. Museums, art galleries, archaeological digs enable a country to create their narrative and create a unified sense of self, this seemed to be entirely lacking on the Peloponnese.

Greece’s modern sense of nationhood is rooted in the Ancient world, as the founders of Western Democracy, political thought, and theatre, just listing a couple. And each city still seemed to view itself in terms of independent city-states. There is no unified narrative among Greece’s cultural institutions, Each city we visited: Athens, Acro-Corinth, Nafplio, Mystras, Nafpaktos, Delphi, showed why their own history was superiour to their neighbour. Reading plaques  on the history of the wars with Persia was what initially had me intrigued. Athens museums showcased that city as being the key to defeating the Persians and has little mention of allies. Acro-Corinth did the same thing, barely mentioning other city-states contribution to defending Greece. I saw this time and again on the trip.

On our trip we met up with a Greek professor and over coffee I asked her a little bit about how Greeks view themselves. Dr. E told me how in Athens few people actually identified themselves as Athenian. She explained how Greece had rapidly urbanised, but the connection to the home village was still strong. She herself had grown up in Athens, but saw herself as from her families ancestral home in the Peloponnese.

I wonder whether some of the modern disconnected narratives of Greece are rooted in the fact that city-states were independent actors. If a country is using that kind of myth as its base identity does it not invite fraction? When Greece revolted it was the first time an independent Greek state had existed for two thousand years (the Byzantine and Latin Empires were arguably not Greek but Frankish, Italian, and Roman). Oh to go back in time and find out whether Greeks in the 19th century viewed themselves as those ancient Greeks who gave us so much.

Part of my conundrum is that I am sitting in Canada, I am Canadian, and the idea of having a history that reaches back millennia  is befuddling. Our history as a state goes back 150 years, with settlement occurring somewhere in the last 400 years. Presently on Vancouver Island a fringe on the periphery of Canada was only considered for settlement in the mid 19th century. For most of Canada’s history our identity was as a part of the British Empire and this continued on after Confederation. The massive settlement of the Prairies at the start of the 20th century as well as the gold rushes in British Columbia took all the energy of the government, there was little concern with nationalism.

Often we attribute Canadian nationhood to the Great War and the Canadian Corps, baptism of fire and all that. But even then I wonder whether this is a modern myth that didn’t take root until the 20’s or 30’s. What makes us Canadian is hard to say but it is a growing concept.

Greece on the other might have too much to work with, or maybe being occupied by various kingdoms and people washed away unity, and like Canada is struggling to find a modern sense of self.