Are the French obsessed with British royals, or are the royals just celebrities?

At this point, if I had to identify a defining characteristic for the British royals and their sycophants, I would say that they are all habitual projectors. Instead of stating their wants, needs or POVs directly, they obfuscate and project onto other people. Take, for example, King Charles and Queen Camilla’s French tour this week. The whole reason they’re prioritizing trips to Germany and France ahead of Commonwealth tours is because Brexit has left the UK politically, diplomatically and economically weakened and in dire need of closer European allies. Instead of acknowledging this need directly and admitting that Britain needs Macron more than Macron needs Britain, we get this piece in the Telegraph: “Why the French are obsessed with our Royal Family; Having ill-advisedly shortened their own royals a couple of centuries ago, our neighbours seek substitutes wherever they are to be found.” Much of this piece is just a history lesson of how various royals throughout history have loved to travel and party in France. But the overwhelming message is haughty and snide towards the French. It’s a weird way to treat the people you’re trying to woo, that’s all I’m saying.

The French republicans: For a people which rabbits on about republicanism as if they invented the thing, the French aren’t half obsessed with royalty – and, most notably, the British monarchy. Coverage of the present state visit by our royals has been extensive, notably as King Charles and President Macron presided over Wednesday’s remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. They seemed to be getting on as pretty close friends. This followed wall-to-wall coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, its aftermath and the subsequent funeral last year. Intense coverage kicked off again, earlier this year, for Charles’ coronation – going on, apparently, until even the most fervent French republican must have been beaten into submission.

Charles isn’t as popular as his mother: Granted, crowds on the Champs Elysées for Charles and Camilla’s 10 km/hour drive past were more sparse than the throngs which attended Queen Elizabeth’s visits – but what did we expect? Charles has been in the job for only five minutes, nowhere near long enough to build up the affection generated by his mother. But the enthusiasm still outstripped that attending any other conceivable state visit. And why wouldn’t it? Having ill-advisedly shortened their own royals a couple of centuries ago, our neighbours seek substitutes wherever they are to be found.

French gossip magazines love the British royals: None of these has ever rivalled the Windsors for column inches and the continuity of fascination. Magazines like Gala, Point de Vue and Paris Match have long been bursting forth with pretty much weekly bulletins on William and Kate, and the various travails of Harry and Meghan. They’re keen, too, on Charles and Camilla. I look forward to photos in all three magazines of our present queen trying to hold onto her hat in the Parisian wind yesterday. But our last queen – “The Queen,” said President Macron – stood apart and above. She was revered sufficiently to suggest that, were she to emulate her predecessor Edward III and claim the throne of France, there’d be a decent vote in favour.

Do the French think royals are merely celebrities? The welcome extended to the Queen on all these occasions – and to the King at the moment – isn’t simply that accorded to a celebrity, though certain French commentators claim there’s little difference. Nor is the interest only ironic, as smarter folk like to pretend. Whatever these people say, it’s obvious that British monarchs have real status in France. Of course, there’s the entertainment value but they also embody so many of the things which the French admire in the British – and admire simply in general, never mind the British connection: the spirit of “fair-play” (for which there’s no French word), restraint, elegance and resolution under stress, the sense of duty and getting on with stuff without invoking personal trauma – plus a frankly outstanding taste in ladies’ headgear.

They’re still waiting for people to forget Diana: There are ties which go beyond politics, trade – and the trading of insults. The Royals are their incarnation. And I’m pretty sure they’ll soon take to Charles as to his mother. Memories of his unhappy first marriage will fade.

[From The Telegraph]

I wondered, as I was reading along, if there would be any mention of the fact that Princess Diana died in Paris. Alas, Diana only got a breezy reference (not even by name) as Charles’s “unhappy first marriage.” For all this ranting and raving about QEII’s popularity, the Windsors and their media always have collective amnesia about Diana’s popularity across the world. French people loved Diana. Americans loved Diana. Indians loved Diana. Australians loved Diana. But no, we have to endure this blatant attempt to make Charles and Camilla into some internationally beloved figures. There’s another problem here too – from what I’ve seen, Charles is doing well and he actually is getting a good reception in France, possibly even a better reception than he expected. Why can’t that be enough? Why does it have to be “omg, the French are OBSESSED with Charles!”

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.

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