The Time Traveler: The Republic of Great Britain

03 May 2019
Author   Hugh Ellis
A member of the British Royal Family may have been discovered cheating on his wife. In other news, the world is round.
Allegedly, Prince William had an affair with Rose Hanbury, a former fashion model from an aristocratic family, also known by her title, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley.
‘Cholmondeley’ is apparently pronounced like ‘Chumlee’, and when I first read about this whole thing, I couldn’t help thinking of Chumlee Lee Russell, the gormless shop assistant in the History Channel reality TV series Pawn Stars, even though he has nothing actually to do with this matter.
No-one knows what goes on behind closed doors, especially not with royal personages. But whether Prince William committed any sin or not, it is apparently common knowledge that his wife, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, has ended her friendship with Rose and does not want William to associate any further with  the Cholmondeleys.
Prince Charles’ cheating on Diana, Princess of Wales was well known. Although less publicised, his father Prince Philip was also suspected of some, uh, dalliances (as one might whisper about them at a British high society dinner) during the 1950s.
Then there were a whole string of lesser royal divorces during the 1980s and 1990s, leading to the joke that the UK national anthem was to be changed to ‘God save the Queen and the Marriages of her Children.’
Here’s a thought: if a country’s Head of State was simply a professional position, rather than some kind of holder of Divine rights and/ or wholesome guardian of the nation’s morals, would all of this buffoonery even matter?
I’m all for tradition and pageantry, and as I’ve said before, having a non-executive Head of State, who advises Government, mediates during constitutional crises, and upholds the country’s honor, is all good.
But having such an office inherited by a member of an obscenely privileged, brattish and out-of-touch bunch of aristocrats? Nah! If it were up to me, I would dump the whole Windsor-Mountbatten clan and start afresh, with a President of Great Britain.
Many proposals have been made as to how a British Head of State could be elected. One is to have him or her chosen by voters every 10 or 15 years, so he or she is outside the tawdry 5-year voting cycle of party politicians.
More radical proposals have included a ‘jury duty’, where everyone quite literally has the chance to be ‘Queen of England for a day’ or a year, chosen at random by computer. Or even more daring, a requirement that the UK Head of State be a black or brown Briton, to counter the smug whiteness of most of the House of Commons.
Strictly speaking, it is none of my business, since in becoming Namibian I had to renounce my British citizenship. Which was only mine through the historical chance of coming to England as a refugee child, and being allowed a passport through the generosity of the Secretary of State, because I would otherwise have been stateless.
Namibia’s own National Assembly, with its gentlemen farmers claiming to care about land redistribution, and its women parliamentarians who seem unable to stomach talk about menstruation or abortion, certainly gives me no right to brag.
But then again, if there were a disputed election in Zimbabwe, or a riot in Nigeria, or a constitutional crisis in Singapore, there’d be no way that British political commentators and media people would not be piling in to give their two pennies’ worth. So, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as they say.
Also, I couldn’t resist finally joining the exclusive club of journalists who have written about the byzantine, and often sordid, goings-on at Buckingham Palace. Makes me feel like I’ve finally arrived, you know. I’m sure the knighthood invitation will not be in the mail.
Hugh Ellis bears no aristocratic title beyond The Fresh Prince of the Namibia University of Science and Technology. The views expressed here are personal views, and do not necessarily represent those of his employer. Follow him on Twitter @ellis_hugh


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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