I got a bit of a surprise when I picked up today’s Christchurch Press this morning. The entire front page is a photo of William and Kate with Prince George (and dog), and several inside pages cover their ten-day royal visit to New Zealand which began when they landed in Wellington a few minutes ago.
There is a bit of an irony in the extensive pro-royal media coverage when this morning’s poll reveals that more than 60% of younger New Zealanders want the present queen to be the last royal head of state for NZ.
Older citizens have childhood memories of the five-week visit of William’s grandparents, the present queen and Prince Philip, in 1953-54. More recent visits have not attracted the same frenzy of adulation, but this trip seems to be different. Today’s Press presents not only photos and itinerary, but also pro and anti Republic arguments, royal wardrobe reports, and outrage from parents who want the baby prince George to look backwards rather than forwards in his carseat.
I won’t lose sleep if New Zealand does drop British royalty as head of NZ state. However I would be concerned if this decision is made as part of a process of cutting all ties with any institution that offers a bigger and broader perspective. While a democratic decision can work well if all voters discern thoroughly before making choices, too often democracy provides much less than what a society needs if it is to provide an environment where happy healthy and abundant lives are available to all. By design a democracy can only deliver what voters deserve.
It is good that our nation has moved beyond the undiscerned adulation response to the royal visit of sixty years ago. More recently members of the royal family have served for little more than filling tabloid columns. Perhaps we need to consider the option of retaining the British Monarchs as our New Zealand head of state while demanding of them the dignified mission of the Old Testament kings who ensured that the poor were fed, justice was done and that sound order was maintained for the safely of all in the kingdom.