Commoners in Royal Houses

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Feb 20, 2003
United States

They are loved and hated, praised and criticized, presented as the sign of a more democratic era or the proof of modern decadence: they are the commoners who marry royals. This article does not tell their personal stories; instead, it analyzes the rarely treated issue of why royal marriages to commoners occur so often nowadays and what could be their possible consequence for the future of the monarchies in which it happens. This issue touches on the future development and ultimate survival of monarchy itself.

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This is the article site's long-awaited contribution to the discussion about the effect on royal dynasties of the increasing frequency of marriage between heirs to the throne and middle-class commoners. This discussion is cropping up all over TRF as a result of the marriages between the heirs to most of the European thrones and commoners, sometimes the second generation of the family to do so, as well as the controversy over whether Kate Middleton is a suitable prospective consort for Prince (and eventually King) William. The same controversy is raging in Japan, where the imperial family has gone from being deities to pretty much being commoners in two generations.

As with ysbel's article, Vanesa's article has been held up for several months while we tried to get permission for photos. TheTruth has very kindly made a highly impressive collage to illustrate the second page of the article, and I hope everyone thinks the overall finished product is worth the wait. I'm really pleased by how this one has turned out.
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Thanks Vanesa for the article. It was really interesting. I liked the idea you took that the royals are acting more like commoners themselves. I wonder too what the public reaction to royals will be if we can't see any distinction between us and them.
Thanks for the article!:flowers:
We are quite fortunate to have the second amazing article that discusses the topical issue. Commoners marrying into the royal families ... Can it be damaging or beneficial to the monarchy as an societal institution? It is a rather rhetorical question, isn't it? From a purely biological point of view, the Royal families can benefit from inflow of fresh blood. From a societal standpoint, commoners tend to take away some mystique associated with much-revered nobles/royals. Here I agree with Vanessa noting that "
Vulgarisation and popularisation of royalty and aristocracy is already a problem. The trend toward marrying commoners is only adding to it" (p.2). We can spend pages debating this issue, but I find it impossible to clearly answer the question "Commoners in Royal Houses: Is is better or worse?". The effects of a surge of common royal brides remain to be seen.
I found the article well worth the read and very interesting in it's assumption that it's the Royals who select their commoner brides/grooms because they are in accord with them - and that this is telling alot about the Royals of today.

You're right in that, Vanesa. But it is not necessary the fault of these young Royals, it's their parents/Grandparent who allowed them to enjoy the life of the jeunesse d'oré instead of seeing to it that they started early on with their upcoming duties. I know quite some middle-class entrepreneur who started educating their heirs from early days, so that the company would survive their taking-over. Why doesn't the reigning Royals follow that track?

One problem surely is that there is no real position in the workings of a representative monarchy for the heir. Even at age 60, The Prince of Wales has no real place when it comes to the dealings with the state - and that's what people realise and see. And William? Why should he behave like a Royal when he will in all probabilty have to wait decades for his becoming king. So he spends his time like young, rich men do: partying with girlfriends and working in a military job which offers officer's privilege and adventure. Just like Frederick of Denmark.

In addition even the work of the monarch is not very visible for his people. That the queen receives about 4 dignitaries in single audiences each day is not visible but happens behind closed doors. it would be necessary IMHo to introduce more occasions where the monarch is actually needed and to show him or her doing that. So people could again connect to their monarch after the mystique has been destroyed which gave the people at least the idea that the monarch was in fact working hard behind closed doors. Newpapers should be obliged to give the work of the RF at least a page daily - and the RF should see to it that these pages are filled with something. I have no doubt they could do that.

And one point I'd like to critizise about the article: Vanesa said that after some generations of marriages to commoners there would be no drop of Royal blood in the veins of the "Royals" anymore. While you could say so, OTOH it's important to note that still the reigning Royal is always in accordance to the inheritance laws the next senior relative to his Right Royal predecessor. For me this counts more than the ancient lineage of said Royal personality (which would always be there, of course: inherited from one monarch to the next of kin).
I think that part of this trend is just the way societies are developing in general. It's now more than a generation since World War 2, and not many people still alive remember the importance of duty to a greater cause that was prevalent back then. Now we have a different sort of culture, where the individual is more important, where the focus is on the present and the near future rather than the longer term, and where the value of things tends to be seen in terms of money and materialism rather than abstract concepts. That always seemed to be more of the attitude of the jet set and the nouveau riche rather than the sort of shabby grandeur of the aristocracy and royalty, who were seen more as stewards of their heritage than as anything in their own right. With rising prosperity in much of the developed world, more people can aspire to at least some aspects of the nouveau riche lifestyle, and these attitudes seem to have permeated some of the royal families too, at least in the younger generation.

There's always been resentment against royals who have seemed to be happy to grab the materialistic advantages of their position but aren't being seen to be giving much back - I think Princess Margaret, rightly or wrongly, was a case in point - and if that's going to be the norm rather than the exception in the future, where the royals are resented rather than admired, I think we could well be in for some trouble. Which would be a shame, because I think constitutional monarchy is a good form of government.
Really interesting and entertaining article. Thanks for that pleasant read!:flowers:
I really enjoyed reading this, Vanessa has some very valid points in her article. I will be reading it more than once to absorb these.
Great article, I think there are some worthy points to consider here. But at the same time, I disagree with a few things.

I don't think royals today are not taking their duties seriously because they are more common than royal these days. Meaning, because they are acting like everyday normal people is not the reason for their behavior. I think it has to do with them not having a lot of political power. Now, I am not advocating for the return of absolute monarchies or whatever. I am just saying maybe the reason why some royals, like Prince William, Prince Frederik and Prince Felipe, are in a sense just sitting around living the rich life, is because they constitutionally are not allowed to do much.

I see nothing wrong with a royal waiting a long time to get married. These days, monarchs a living longer lives (ie, the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II). Look at Prince Charles. He'll be 60 and he's still not the King. It will be decades before William will be King. So, I don't think there should be a rush for heirs to get married and produce children. I believe a younger monarch is more appealing than an elderly one. This way not too many people look at them as being from a different era.

As for commoners taking away the grandeur of royalty, I think the right ones add to it. Look at Queen Silvia, Princess Maxima, Princess Mathilde. I think those royals are just as royal as those born as one.

Also, I don't think all royals could care less about social issues. Seeing Princess Mary in Uganda recently changed my opinion about her. Seeing pictures of her with children, wiping away tears, told me she does care about those in need, and did not become a princess only so she could wear a tiara and beautiful dresses. And also, Haakon and Mette-Marit are doing a good job as royals, and they might be the most liberal royals of all!

And about rock music not being appropriate for royalty since that music is about rebellion and anti-establishment, honestly, I think that complaint is overblown. If royals did not move with the times, they would be extinct already. Look what happened when Princess Diana died. The British people wanted their royals to be more in touch with the regular people. The royal family's approval rating was dismally low because they were distant and seen as out of touch with the rest of the country. Yes, the younger royals - such as William, Beatrice and Eugenie - have been acting too ordinary by falling out of clubs smashed. But if the royals acted like they were from another time period, they would lose their positions. So, modernity is not a bad thing.

Times are changing for royalty. Time will tell if royalty could survive post-modernism.
Honestly, I would want a royal-royal marriage but it seems that it's not really the trend now. I quite understand why royals marry commoners - we may say that they're bored or would like to be with someone completely different esp. that of their status. Royals seem to look outside their "types". I sometimes wonder can we still say that they're royal even if the 3rd generation will marry a commoner. If royal blood can be one of the determining factors, I would say they're not full-blooded royal anymore - King Harald married to Queen Sonja, CP Haakon married to CPss MM, and if the future CPss Ingrid Alexandra will marry a commoner just like her mom, I wonder if royal families will be considered one of the "royal bloods". Of course, this can't be the only factor in determining a royal, after all a commoner married into royalty is considered royal as long as she married into an existing monarchy. Somehow, if they don't consider modernization I doubt monarchy will exist. Some people are happy that their future king is married to one of us, some not at all.
Oh well,thank God for the Sonja's,Silvia's,Henriks and Claus's,allthough that was 40 years ago and most here had not seen the light of day:whistling:
This is a fantastic article, Vanessa! I loved to read it.

Sometimes people think we are being jugdemental when we say we prefer "royals with royals" but, as you said "the problem is more complex than one might think".

I liked how you wrote, explained your reasons and surely I'll read you again. :flowers:
Brilliant article Vanesa, so very much in line with my own thinking...only much more articulate than I could have stated it!
This was a thought-provoking article. Thank you, Vanessa, for your insights. It makes sense to me that as long as Royal children are raised to be "normal", they will marry "normal" people; i.e. commoners. Perhaps the Princes and Princesses of two or three generations ago had an easier time of it, because there was no expectation that they would be educated with or socialize with children outside of their own extended family and class. There also wasn't the current obsession with celebrity, which tends to reduce all famous people to the lowest common denominator: being famous. There would have been other pressures for these young Royal people, but they would have been different from the current ones.
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