I’m the most British Canadian you will ever meet, so the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting my city is like if the Canucks had actually won the Stanley Cup in 2011: hella awesome.
It’s hard to explain why the royals are such a big deal to the English; all I can tell you is that I’ve been obsessed with them from a very young age, thanks to my grandparents. My Bumma and Grandad gave me my first plate of fish ‘n’ chips, first cup of tea, and first look at the royal family.
At this point, anyone with British relatives knows what I’m talking about, but there’s an even more personal reason for how I feel about Will and Kate: my grandmother used to work for the Queen’s cousin, Louis Mountbatten. Let’s just say that when your grandmother has helped write Christmas cards to the monarchy, you kind of give a shit about them.
Now that I’ve alienated every non-British person out there, let’s get down to why the royal visit is actually important.
Because of my family history, it may appear that I have rose-coloured glasses on when it comes to the royals, which is true to a point. I’m also a political science major who can recognize a political figurehead when I see one.
In this day and age, the British monarchy has very little control over how the country is run — and looking at some of the decisions they’ve made in the past, that’s probably a good thing. What power they do possess is purely their celebrity.
Yet it’s this star power that allows them to effect change. Royals can use their positions in society to draw attention to social issues, charities, and initiatives that desperately need public attention — which the late Princess Diana was well-known for.
Now, her son Will is continuing on by visiting at-risk communities with his family. The Vancouver Sun reported that the Duke and Duchess would be visiting a charity that works with mothers-to-be who struggle with substance abuse, right in the heart of the Downtown Eastside.
Let me say that again: members of the royal family are going to visit the most impoverished area in Vancouver.
In addition, they’ll be visiting First Nations communities, an active refugee office, and even visiting the Vancouver coast guard base in Kitsilano that was closed between 2013–16. These actions highlight issues that aren’t always prioritized by Canadians, but are still extremely important in ensuring quality of life for citizens — especially the disadvantaged members of our population.
A global spotlight follows the young couple, and they choose to go where their presence may help change the lives of those less fortunate. Though I highly doubt they’ll do much charity work themselves, their visit can — and most likely will — inspire others to donate time or money to help members of the community.
Despite the benefits of the royals touring British Columbia, I can understand where skeptics are coming from. The pomp and ceremony I find delightful can be frustrating for the people that live in these areas, not to mention the price tag associated with the visit.
All I can say to those people is that Will and Kate will be gone soon enough, and things will go back to normal. As far as the money goes, we paid Stephen Harper’s salary as prime minister for nine years — putting up the royals for a few days isn’t the worst financial decision our country’s ever made.