"..a bardy view!"

The Royal Wedding and the Philippines…..

The global attention that the upcoming royal wedding is generating comes as no surprise. Countries with absolutely no connection to the UK are queuing up to broadcast the event. Certainly interest is to be expected from Commonwealth nations but others such as the Philippines are also hooked.

This is not likely due to the aura surrounding the British Royal Family, but more likely that in an age of celebrity worship this is the marriage of the decade. Filipinos love celebrities, and are quite willing to embrace them wherever they hail from. Prince William, the second in line to the throne should not be regarded as one.

He is not a film star, rock star, sports star, world famous fashion designer or supermodel. Nor is he a captain of industry, or a billionaire entrepreneur.  I suspect the British are inclined to accept their royals provided they can be seen to be doing something useful other than adorning magazine covers.

In William's case he is a qualified RAF helicopter pilot and his job entails air sea rescue providing a valuable emergency service. It is the measure of a man born into status and title who contributes to society with a sense of duty, when he could easily be a privileged layabout like some of his ancestors.

Whilst there has always been a republican movement to abolish this somewhat anachronistic system of royalty which flourishes in the UK, as long as it exists we may as well accept it. If we are going to have a royal family then it should be the best, so I certainly don't want to see them riding bicycles or catching the local buses and travelling in economy class. If they are going to do that then abolish them.

No, I want my royals to be royal and show it. I don't resent their position, I don't resent their wealth (even though I contribute to it), and if I was one, I know I would be very bad at it, and deserve my head cut off (metaphorically speaking). Such was the case with the French aristocracy, who were so detached from their subjects that they ended up detached from their own torsos. Indeed, this was a sulutary lesson to the British royals in the late 18th century, to the extent that it eventually produced Queen Victoria.

During her reign she saw the world's biggest modern empire develop, creating advancements in science, industry, parliamentary government and accountability. William is a direct decendent of Victoria, and I suspect he will make a great king one day.

The British don't have much of a history in the Philippines. England briefly ruled the place after beating the Spanish in 1762.  They sailed up the Pasig River and raised their flag over Fort Santiago, but under the Treaty of Paris two years later, George III gave it back to Spain in exchange for some of their dominions in the Americas (readers can visit my short and concise history of the Philippines here).

Things could have turned out very different for the Philippines if the Spanish were evicted root and branch, but it wasn't to be. The Country's name would certainly have changed. The English would not have continued to call it after a Spanish king.

The Spanish cultural influences would have disappeared, after all, their position at the time was fragile, and it was only afterwards that they really dominated and influenced the islands.

To take the hypothetical long view, there would have been no Spanish-Filipino war, nor even a Filipino-American war, but it's still likely that Great Britain would have lost the Philippines to the Japanese in 1941, just as the Americans actually did.

As for how the transition of power would have panned out after WWII is anyone's guess. The Union Jack would have lowered, and just maybe the British colonial system of parliamentary government would have remained, and the Philippines could now be part of a relatively stable, fair and prosperous Commonwealth.

Historians love hindsight, because it's a nine letter word which means what if? If history has a purpose, it is the power to envisage the future, and we ignore such lessons at our peril.

So I hope the Filipinos enjoy watching Wills and Kate walking up the aisle of Westminster Abbey. And whilst they join us all in the celebration, whether we be cavaliers or roundheads, I wonder if they will also be asking what if?


April 19, 2011 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, History, London, Politics, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Nicely done Bard. I just hope everything goes smoothly with the wedding. My son and his wife will be helping to defend the visitors to London from whatever trouble the anarchists might be planning that day.


    Comment by Tony Payne | April 19, 2011 | Reply

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