This week I saw the Queen of England. She zipped by on her little ship, glowing in white and waving her tiny soup ladle shaped hand in that way which is now associated with royalty. In that moment, I was closer to her than I will ever be in my entire life.
As I stood, with the rain pelting me, as it had been for much of the day, I couldn’t help but laugh at the metaphor I was helping shape. I was one of the huddled masses, braving hell and rising water, to give the Queen a wave; but, do you think it occurred to any of us what was really going on? Absolutely not; we are the happy vestal lot, toting our hapless dreams from one place to another, too pure to know that our hearts desire too.
What I am suggesting is that, me, and the other million soggy bodies, endured miserable conditions to catch a glimpse at wealth. And, not just wealth, but the filthy, high-summer and you’ve not been wearing socks-in-your-Tom’s, stinking rich. To be close to it, knowing that for many of us, we will never be as close again.
Or, is it perception of wealth?
However, my natural intuition is to loathe the metaphor, to rebel against fortune accumulated by birth, or as my father likes to joke, fortune as a result of the lucky sperm club.
But, if we’re honest, is that not what it is, and what millions of people are celebrating? A job is handed to the Queen through birth, which is then celebrated because she has accomplished not dying? There is something wrong with that. It’s not just, considering civilized people demand living in a civilized world. It’s nepotism at it’s most pronounced.
Wealth, and public stature should be determined by hard work and perseverance. Like, being able to hit, throw, catch, kick or whatever else with a ball, right? Or, because you can lay down a sweet rhyme about some of your, “bitches?” That entitles ungodly amounts of wealth, right?
Royalty, entertainers and athletes possess, to the average person, unimaginable wealth. Anti-monarchists would argue that entertainers and athletes deserve their wealth because it is a product of work, or rather, not birth. And, most people would not begrudge the sob story of a performer, or professional athlete, who had to overcome poverty, abusive parents, the hardship of urban denigration, and so on, to amass their stature.
There is pride in those stories, it’s the Horatio Alger concoction we were fed to dream upon; and the rest of the world flooded our borders in hopes of finding. The idea of hard work was once at the root of our identity. A person begins poor in the United States, and dies rich. Hard work paving the way in between.
But, the question we’re faced with is, who is promoting a better image? Hard earned wealth through the promotion of urban violence and a lifestyle of excess? Or, inherited wealth that attempts to conceal their glamour through countless charities and foundations seeking to better the world of the disparity that we applaud entertainers and athletes for overcoming?
I am no Royalist, by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t agree with the class divisions perpetuated in a society where a monarchy is still in place, nor am I a fan of one family touting their wealth in the face of a nation with a rising poverty rate, and that goes for a royal family, or just a plain old pretentious rich family.
However, there is a new trend among the young royals of Britain. They’ve all seemed to have read through Princess Diana’s book, and learned what a little philanthropy, or even average human behavior, can do to their image. Princess Beatrice attended my university, which is no great glamourous place; Prince William was living in standard officer’s accommodation when stationed in Anglesey; The Prince’s Trust is doing a lot for inner city kids; and so on. This image does a lot to bolster public opinion.
Then, you have someone like Pippa Middleton. A royal-in-law, embracing her newfound socialite status in the best Gatsbean way she can: acting as though she has never experienced it before, to the embarrassment of all potential social climbers.
Can you blame her though? She is doing what any person with new found fame would do: enjoying it. She can now be lumped into a category with footballers, notorious for their run-ins with the law, as newly rich individuals unable to conduct themselves in public.
Or is it that this is just how people act, and happened to have a spotlight on them now? In truth, it doesn’t really matter because it’s appalling in both circumstances. Human beings have to share space with other human beings, and regardless if a person is under the media’s spotlight or not, each person is being watched by someone, be it the nation or a member of family or so on.
But, it seems accountability takes a backseat to fun, at all times.
So, I’ve been wondering, who would I prefer my children to look up to? In a snapshot, the answer appears simple, but as a card carrying member of the “life club,” I know there is never a simple answer, to anything.
Do we want the youth of our society to grow up with the limitations of social parameters? No, but there is something that must be considered. Though Royal families all over the world care very little about the “commoners” of their realm, they do not promote anything too unsavory, with the exception of nepotism, and the odd thing here and there.
Where, on the other hand, how many athletes are smacked with paternity suits, doping claims and fights outside of nightclubs? Or, how often do we read of another rapper being hit with weapons charges? But, when the television is flipped on, those negative attributes are waylaid by the seemingly easy path to a luxurious, and glamourous lifestyle.
Get rich quick; it is what our society wants. We want to get as rich as possible while doing as little work as necessary. To make matters worse is that our society promotes this behavior.
As a nation we are falling behind the rising nations in technological and scientific innovation. The U.S. still maintains it’s places as the richest nation in the world, but that gap is quickly shrinking as much of our youth fail to see the glory in doing something that benefits humanity, or even just our nation, because those individuals are not portrayed sipping Crystal on yachts, but rather on University campus’, in white coats using multi-syllabic words.
I am not an intellectual elitist. Hooray for athletes and entertainers who have made it to where they are. We need them too. But, what I crave is for these people of stature to take advantage of their place in society to make a difference.
Gang culture is a lifestyle that transcends national borders. And, yes we see many of the world’s athletes and entertainers coming from inner-city, difficult backgrounds. So, with that knowledge, and the obvious pride in rising above the mess, why not give back to that community so as not to force others to have to endure as well?
Sporting bodies have taken advantage of it; funneling money into programs for disadvantaged youth: MLB, NBA, FIFA and many more have, so now it’s up to entertainers to make a bigger splash. Because royal wealth is not a legitimate dream, aside from the secret hope that one might marry into the family, a la Katherine, but the ambition to be a rapper, singer, athlete and so on is a real dream that lives in the mind of millions of small people the world over.
You never wish to take the dreams out of a child’s mind, whatever their dreams may be. But, what you do want is to make it so that they have every opportunity to access their dreams, and sadly, many do not.
While both entertainers and Royal families provide an image of wealth, and increase the desire to possess that wealth, what is absent is the concept of working to achieve said success. But, where the royals win out, is the philanthropy, and the concept of giving they have in the media. This image is growing more so in the entertainment field, sure, but not strong enough.
This won’t be a trend until the desire to maintain an image of tough, brazen, reckless, misogynistic mindset is scraped for one that aims to benefit mankind, even if it is a ruse because money and charity is not.
Who cares if the sentiment is there? As individuals, we are not of the slightest concern by royal families, or athletes and entertainers. But, money is real, as they show in their dalliances in the media. Give to those who need it, and you look good, allowing dummies to go on being dummies and the masses to overlook the dumbness.
The Royal’s have learned it, and are reshaping their public image through the Prince’s trust, and Harry’s frontline service in Afghanistan and all of those other things they attach their names to, and give to.
So, when you bad mouth the Royals, consider what you are supporting, and the image that side is promoting to the world beyond. There are lesser evils in the world, and though neither entertainers or Royal families could give a damn about me or anyone else I know, I get over it because I’m satiated by their charity.
Now, the next time an athlete cheats on his wife, and has another illegitimate child, I’ll forget it if he donates a new science building to an under achieving school. Maybe.