We recently discovered that Kate Middleton is expecting her first baby. I want to wish her and her husband all of the joy and happiness inherent in parenthood. The same happiness experienced by several thousand new parents each day across the United States. So why does Kate's pregnancy warrant world-wide media attention? Because she is Princess Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, wife of Prince William, who is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II.
[Oops! The newsletter and original post said that Kate was married to Prince Charles. I really don't pay much attention to English Royalty, but I do apologize for this error. Prince Charles is now Kate's father-in-law. It is Prince Charles' son William who is married to Kate and expecting his first child. Mea Culpa.]
Why am I concerned about an American fascination with English Royalty? Because our Declaration of Independence insists that "all men [and women?] are created equal", which is an idea that is mutually exclusive to the class system of England. You can't have it both ways. Either everyone is equal in the eyes of the law... or some people have authority over others simply due to the bloodline of their parents.
Before recorded history, humans roamed about as hunter/gathers in very small family groups. The invention of agriculture allowed them to grow more food than they actually needed to survive. Eventually, some of the more powerful gatherers realized that taking other people's food was easier than growing it themselves. The concept of "the divine right of kings" spread across the world, and violent men such as Alexander the Great (356BC - 323BC), Julius Caesar (100BC - 44BC), Attila the Hun (~400 - 453), and Gengis Khan (1162-1227) are remembered as some of the most powerful leaders the world has ever known. Prior to our Declaration of Independence, almost every square mile of land on the earth has been claimed as the property of some king or emperor somewhere. The image of Chistoper Columbus walking ashore on San Salvador with a flag, and declaring it the property of Queen Isabella of Spain is fairly easy to imagine.
The concept of kings and queens is therefore very old - and very outdated, in my opinion. It is highly unlikely that I shall ever come in personal contact with Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (a.k.a. Queen Elizabeth II), however if I do, I will treat her with the same respect that I would extend to any elderly woman. Unfortunately, I would probably create an international incident when I refuse to bow or curtsey, or perform any other gesture which implied a deference to her royal status. Why should I? She's not MY Queen.
Here in the United States, we refer to the person in the White House as "Mister" President. We talk about our elected officials as "public servants", and the idea that "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" is familiar to almost everyone in our fifty states, even if that principle is not strictly enforced by the people who live there. Even a superficial examination of the American government will demonstrate that we are the antithesis of the royal family in London, and every other country that still adheres to this primitive bias of political power.
Ignoring the question of legitimacy of royal status, most people in the world express an allegiance to one of the nearly two hundred nation states currently extant in the world. Most Americans are openly patriotic, expressing a strong allegience to "Uncle Sam" and the good old Red, White, and Blue. But... isn't the concept of nation state becoming somewhat anachronistic? Now that the internet allows us to commmunicate with anyone in the world, wouldn't I be better off making friends around the world, without dragging political protocol into the equation?
I predict a future, perhaps not many decades away, where each person on earth will choose to interact with any other person on earth, without having to clear it with a cabal of powerful people who claim to be "the government". All of us have the right of self-determination, and as the people of the world continue to increase their intelligence, and raise their awareness of our common human heritage, we shall become less willing to accept the presumption of royalty that others pretend to hold over us. Each of us has the same right to life and property that Kate Middleton's child will have when it is born.