BBC Radio 4, so often a voice of intelligence and relative impartiality, began this morning’s news with the extreme bias and simpering tones they reserve for reports on the Windsor family. It was announced that Kate Middleton would be “transformed” from a “commoner” into “Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge”.
I hope that Kate Middleton and William Windsor have a very happy marriage. Marriage is about love and commitment, not about privilege and hierarchy. If Kate Middleton has been “transformed”, it is because she has become a married woman.
She has not become somebody else. Her blood has not turned blue. She has not stopped being a human being, equal in value to you and me. All that’s happened is that her grandmother-in-law has said she should be referred to by a medieval title.
I continue to be amazed that so many otherwise caring, respectful, intelligent people can demean themselves by happily addressing somebody else as “your royal highness” or “my lord”. I respect those who consider they are doing so out of necessity, such as lawyers committed to justice who call judges “my lord” when they would rather not. But the acceptance of such titles in a supposed democracy, and the self-contempt implied in them, has never made sense to me.
It has made even less sense since I became a Christian. Christ is my lord, my king, my queen. Early Christians died for refusing to say “Caesar is lord”. They wouldn’t acknowledge an earthly monarch even when this led to their deaths. How much do we insult their memory if we idolatrously recognise another lord simply out of habit or acceptance of social norms?
When William and Kate’s engagement was announced, some said it was a sign of “social mobility”. This is laughable. An upper class man is marrying an upper middle class woman.
The government talks of social mobility while slashing public services, education and the welfare state, driving wider the already vast gulf between the poorest and richest in our society. The very phrase “social mobility” implies a few individuals being allowed to move through a hierarchical system. We don’t need social mobility. We need equality.
We cannot achieve equality and uphold human dignity while grovelling in front of privileged individuals. We are not subjects. We are not servants. We are not “commoners”. We are human beings, created in the image of God.