Commentary – Leave those kids alone

Joe McWilliams

As a rule, I take a dim view of hero worship.

It can lead to bad things; maybe at best it is just silly. Fun, probably, but looking at it from the sidelines, it does seem pretty goofy.

What is there, really, to get so excited about? Sure, Elvis Presley was a good singer. He was good looking, he was cool. It was exciting to be in his presence., etc., etc.

Then there was Beatlemania. Lunacy on a mass scale. Hysteria. What was it all about? The Beatles themselves couldn’t understand it and grew to despise it. They couldn’t even hear themselves play.

And when it comes right down to it, they were very ordinary human beings. Talented, but otherwise the same as you and me.

You could say the same for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who recently announced they were withdrawing from their role as Royal ambassadors, or however they put it.

Or was it only partly withdrawing?

All that crazy publicity that goes with being a member of that family; it’s a steep price to pay and who can blame them for wanting to reduce it? Leave them alone, is what I say. Let them be as close to regular folks as it’s possible for them to be.

I had plenty of opportunity to reflect on this subject nine years ago, when Harry’s brother, Prince William ,and his young bride Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, stopped in Slave Lake. I think I would have been happy to leave them alone, but being a member of the local press, did I have a choice? I suppose I did, but would have had some explaining to do if I had chosen not to join the entourage of paparazzi for that two or three hours.

The opportunity was presented as a special privilege. I even had to promise not to spill the beans before they arrived. After they did, it was full-on photography – click, click, click, click.

The weirdness of it began to sink it pretty quickly. You start to question the legitimacy of what you are doing –even the sanity of it. Not to mention questioning the sanity of what they are doing.

Do they have to be on display like this? What if they don’t want to be? Do they have a choice?

You could argue there are some pretty decent benefits to being a royal. Loads of property, living well at public expense. The adoration of millions.

None of that is my idea of fun, but it might be somebody’s. Having grown up in it, you might have a hard time imagining any other kind of lifestyle.

But the notion that these people are in any way more interesting than anybody else is just a fantasy, imposed on them by the public because we want such fantasies to make our lives more wonderful. We want to worship somebody because it’s in our cultural DNA to do so.

So, we find people to worship. Then, because it’s also in our cultural DNA, we may turn on them and tear them down.

As far as Harry and Meghan go, leave them be. Let them explore other avenues. Let them also do it, I will say, at their own expense.

We shouldn’t be burdening these people with our own fantastical expectations, and they shouldn’t be burdening us with their financial ones.

And if that makes me a version of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas . . . well, as I see it, letting go of these fantasies is just part of growing up. There are plenty of good and worthwhile things in the world without dumping unrealistic expectations on a couple of people who want to be left alone.

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