CastleTalk #4: Being Critical and Finding the Balance in Royal Watching

As with all things in life, being a royal watcher is all about finding the balance. The balance between enjoying a recreational interest and staying positively critical. No royal is the best nor the worst thing since sliced bread - and no one should be criticised for being critical. To be critical means to analyse and thus determine something's or someone's merits and faults, good and bad. It doesn't equal being negative. You can criticise someone but still like them. Being critical means just that, being critical.

Looking back, I have a hard time telling you, when I became a royal watcher. When I was a child, I watched royal weddings with my grandmother. I wasn't yet a teenager (in retrospect - back then I'm pretty sure I thought I was) when I went to the newsagency to buy magazines about the wedding of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit kind of pretending they were for my mother or grandmother. About two years later, I got my first royal book for Christmas: A biography of Electress Sophia. A few weeks earlier, I had visited the Fürstenhaus and the historical museum in Hanover with my school and I became hooked.

Too negative yet too positive

Of course there was also a time when I thought that Wills and Harry were utterly cute and charming, and my best friend in school and I imagined we would marry them. (For the record: I would have gotten Prince Harry.) However, the historical interest always stayed. There were times in my life when I spent more time royal watching; and at other times, it was less. To this day, my interest in royalty comes and goes in waves. There are weeks and months when I hardly keep up with anyone else but the Luxembourg and Liechtenstein families (and that's just due to that other blog) - and then there are the weeks and months when I read everything I can get my hands on about a certain royal or noble family or individual.

I became both interested in the Nassaus of Luxembourg and the Liechtensteins via their histories. And it's their history that's still my primary focus. Luxarazzi is the place where I live out that interest. Over the years, my participation in forums and such has become less and less. I noticed that I was simply too negative for the pro-royal sites and at the same time too positive for the anti-royal sites (for lack of better terms). I was and am what I would define as critical.

Royals are humans and humans make bad choices

If I would voice my opinions about all the members of the reigning families of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, most people would wonder why I keep up with them at all. I "like" them but at the same time there are things I "dislike" about each and every single (working) member of the families. I say "like" and "dislike" in quotation marks because I have a hard time saying that for someone I don't know personally, we don't know personally. And we don't own them either. Yes, we see them all the time, we have a sense of who they are. But at the same time, we don't know them at all and never will. 

We get to see the (in some cases not so) polished royal image, what they want us to see but they are real human being. They have problems and issues just like the rest of us despite their wealth and privileged life. While I certainly am no fan of royals complaining about their status and the disadvantages it brings along, I still see them as human beings with feelings. So treat them like everybody else and be respectful. Only say about them, what you would say to their or anyone else's face looking into their eyes. We like to project dreams and hopes on royals, the perfect anything. But they are not perfect and we have no ownership of them. They might be publicly funded and called blue bloods but they have red blood running through their veins, just like the rest of us.

Frankly, I'm not a monarchist

Many will probably argue: What's the point of royalty if they are just like the rest of us?! Well, truth be told: I'm not a monarchist. I grew up in a country that did away with their monarchies in 1918 and I do not support for it to come back (not that there is any movement whatsoever to support). It's almost been 100 years and despite some pretty bad and horrifying struggles in the first couple of years, we've been doing pretty well with being a republic and democracy for more than 60 years now (though the past couple of months go to show that some (many) people seemingly never learn).

At the same time, I do believe that a historically grown monarchy can benefit a country. A monarchical head of state can be a unifying figure and a source for national identity, they are above politics and don't need to think about the next election. However, I also see the disadvantages: The people cannot chose their head of state and cannot do away with their monarch easily if they are unfit for their position. Just as there are advantages and disadvantages to the various presidential systems republics offer, there are pros and cons for monarchy. It's upon everyone of us to be critical, to analyse and to determine the good and bad. In life, there is never black and white.

Nobody's perfect: Finding the middle ground

The same applies for royal individuals. They all have merits, they all have faults. Seeing a merit doesn't equal loving someone blindly, seeing a fault doesn't equal being a hater. Finding the balance between the two is the key. We should all see the many shadows of grey between the black and white. It's fine to like things about a certain royal but it's just as fine to dislike things. To be perfectly honest, people who simply looooove everything a royal does are dubious to me. They are not perfect, neither their character nor their fashion choices. The same goes for people who categorically dislike everything a royal does. What have they done to you for you to hate everything they do, each decision they make, every time they step out the door? They say haters gonna hat but seriously, that's not healthy. And why would you keep up with everything a person does anyway when you dislike them so much?

Having discussions and differing opinions is what makes royalty watching great. Just as with everything in life, how boring would it be if everyone thought the same? I have a small but very active group of fellow royal watchers I often have discussions with over Twitter or other social media. We all like to follow royal events, discuss history, learn from each other and nobody is called out for having a differing opinion on a matter. We often have similar views but can agree to disagree. Nobody gets criticised for being critical. May it be the Cambridge's work ethic, the number of engagements done by royals, a princess's (lack of) appropriate fashion sense, the handling of media relations of different royal courts, or any other matter - everyone should be free to voice their balanced opinions. There is no need to ferociously defend every little thing a royal does (and vice versa). Being a critically balanced royal watcher doesn't make you a less good royal watcher.

Stay tuned: Come back on Wednesday next week when I will ask myself the question 
whether I'm actually balanced or if it's all just a bubble.

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