Two kings, sons of Mary, thousands of miles apart
The last King of Britain was entered into his grave on February 15, 1952. How do I know and remember? It’s because that was the day I was born and it would be a coincidence that his mother, like mine, was also named Mary. For many years I would assert that as the reason no two kings could exist in the British Empire at the same time.
OK, enough for ego — the coronation of King Charles III is the second in my lifetime, but the only one I am old enough to remember. He is my contemporary and his parents died in their late nineties. With that set of genes he has a good chance of repeating that life performance. So unless I live to be over 100, which is also possible given my DNA, this will be the last coronation I see in my lifetime.
The only occasion where I have been in the company and presence of King Charles III was at a gala banquet where he, as the Prince of Wales, was invited to be the keynote speaker. I would say he is a very intelligent man with a deep sense of the environmental connection between humans and the cosmos. He was able to explain in economic terms how our exploitation of the environment is mortgaging future generations and leveraging our prosperity on what should be their potential wealth.
So we have a highly intellectual king, along with his wife, Camilla, who are not the most popular couple in England with the elegance of Diana, the late Princess of Wales hanging over their heads as the would-have-been Queen. As for the monarchy itself, it does bring with it a lot of history and tradition, upon which British culture has been built over 1,000 years. While republicanism is the epitome of democracy and Britain has remained somewhat a constitutional monarchy with parliamentarianism, it nevertheless has been the primal birthplace of republicanism first unveiling itself during the period of the Levellers and the Cromwellian years.
One firm principle of democracy is the right of people to choose not just who rules but what rules. Until there is a people-led movement like that of the Levellers, it is likely that the constitutional monarchy will remain. I would suggest here that even if the country evolved politically, the monarchy as a symbol of history will remain for several generations.
I recall a former MP and government minister, the very popular and astute Quinton Edness, who was unashamed to call himself a monarchist. He took personal pride in the Royal Family and was very happy to be considered a loyalist who believed in the efficacy and standards the monarchy stood for. I, too, recognised the exceptional sacrifices the monarchs made to perpetuate a life that was not of their own choosing but which was rather a standard bearer of culture. So I could not condemn Mr Edness for his position, but rather marvelled at our difference of opinion.
Recently, I participated in the research being conducted by the British overseas department on the relationship with the Overseas Territories. Before they tell you, or you see a report published, note I made the recommendation that Bermuda form a closer relationship with Britain and also gain more rights and participation. I departed from the ideal of developing an independent state on the basis we lack the understanding and maturity to be totally self-governing at this particular junction of our evolution in the areas of our political and social contracts.
We need to increase the island population’s tax base, and for issues such as healthcare and education we need to be part of a far broader construct. That can happen only by two ways: either we grow the population or we merge. Our birthrate is declining and we have xenophobia, which leaves only one other option. Yes, embrace xenophobia — as they say, “get over it” or “move on”.
It is time we recognise we are not another world, but we can be unique in this world and that’s OK. Through it all, we must learn how to preserve our uniqueness in our heritage and lineage. In the spirit of our heritage and history, I don’t mind celebrating the coronation of King Charles III — and long may he live.
Back to my ego now: I won’t forget that I am a king, too, whose mother was Queen Mary, and just like he, we are all within ourselves monarchs if we can embrace that universal responsibility as he has.