/The monarchy: A needed tradition?

The monarchy: A needed tradition?

By Jim Poling Sr.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
I’m looking at a picture that tells me everything I need to know with one seven-letter word – madness.
It’s a wire service photo of a Buckingham Palace Queen’s Guard soldier standing rigid and alert in the 40C plus heat that has been killing hundreds in Britain and Europe. The guard is wearing the traditional bearskin hat and red tunic.
Well, as Rudyard Kipling once said, and what Noel Coward put into song: “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.”
There is only one reason the Queen’s Guard is standing in killer heat, and that is tradition.
British tradition is a form of insanity. Despite many efforts, no one has been able to cure it. The British simply do not want change.

Nothing represents the insanity more than the Queen’s Guard. Their bearskin hats are 45.7 centimetres (18 inches) tall and weigh 1.5 pounds. Their red tunics are made of wool.
Those guards regularly faint in hot weather. So often in fact, that they are trained to faint properly – never losing a grip on their rifles (which are not loaded). Never swaying or putting a hand out to break the fall. They are told they must faint at attention, falling face first even though that likely means a broken nose and smashed teeth.
The British Army has spent money researching how to prevent fainting. And, considerably more on repairing noses and replacing teeth.
I’m not a medical researcher, but I can advise them how to prevent all that fainting: Ditch the heavy bearskin hats and the wool tunics.
There is no chance of that. Animal rights groups have protested the use of bearskins for the hats, but the army has said no way.
“The bearskins worn by the Guards are part of our proud military history and identity,” says a British army spokesman. “There are no suitable alternatives.”
End of discussion. Period.

The British royalty itself is no stranger to accusations of ignoring animal rights and of actual animal cruelty. The most recent are investigations into reports of shooting and poisoning of legally protected birds of prey at Sandringham, the Queen’s rural retreat.
Also, Prince Edward has been accused of beating dogs during a hunt. Prince Phillip once was assailed for standing by and watching as an injured fox was clubbed to death.
And, the Queen was photographed eight years ago breaking with her bare hands the neck of a pheasant injured during a Royal shoot.
Meanwhile, those hot and heavy bearskin hats being worn in the killer heat come from Canadian bears.
They are not the only thing we Canadians are giving up to support British madness.
We pay roughly $60 million a year to support the British monarchy, which is the epicentre of nonsensical British traditions. Most of that money goes to support the Queen’s representatives in Canada, the governor-general and the provincial lieutenant governors.
That’s a lot of money for Canadian taxpayers to be coughing up considering more than half of them favour abolishing the monarchy in Canada.
A poll this past spring showed 63 per cent of Canadians personally favour the 96-year-old Queen. However, 67 per cent oppose her son becoming King Charles of Canada when she dies.
We would have to change our constitution to abolish the monarchy. That would cost money, create many headaches and much angry debate. It’s probably better just to ignore the monarchy and let our connections to it simply fade away. Spend the money saved on ending some of the inequalities damaging our society.

Canada is a beautiful culturally diverse place where we share the languages, culture and traditions of a wide variety of ancestors. British culture and traditions are a part of us but we don’t need to be paying millions of dollars a year for them.
Besides, we have our own crazy Canadian traditions, like buying milk in plastic bags, eating ketchup potato chips and mixing vodka with Clamato juice.
And, of course there is our famous New Year’s Day tradition of donning swimsuits and jumping into ice cold waters for an annual polar bear swim.