Saturday, May 14, 2011

I was no Marie Antoinette. I was not born to nobility, but I had a human right to nobility...

Modern history is marked by the struggle of societies to dismantle barriers of class. This struggle continues to this day with more and more nations and societies moving ever forward in achieving the ideals first expressed in the streets of Paris in 1789 - "Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!" On the other side of the Atlantic, another struggle that started in 1776 saw its culmination in the same year 1789 with the inauguration of the United States of America's first president, George Washington.

This confluence of events in the signal year of the Enlightenment Period shook the very foundations of the Feudal world of Europe. Suddenly, the entire social structure rooted on a class system where a very small nobility is supported by a vast mass of people who constituted the peasantry was threatened with collapse.

The nobility faced the possibility of extermination by an enraged mass of the great unwashed. Indeed, in October 1793, four years after the events of Bastille Day (14 July), 1789, Marie Antoinette, hitherto Queen of France, scion of the House of Habsburg the oldest and longest-lived dynasty in Europe, daughter of the popular and well-loved Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Hungary stepped up to the guillotine at Place de la Revolution and was beheaded.

Marie Antoinette, in all her finery

And thus, started the long struggle to eliminate class barriers within societies. Today, most of Europe is unhindered by class and where it still is observed as a quaint aspect of custom and tradition, commoners, as the peasants of yore are now called, can aspire to nobility and royalty. The most recent commoner to achieve this is the new Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Windsor nee Middleton, wife of William, third in line to the British Throne.

The newly-minted Duchess of Cambridge at the balcony of the Buckingham Palace being kissed by her groom, Prince William of Wales

However, most modern nations have seen the elimination of nobility and class. Do a double-take of that last sentence. Elimination of class! Madame Imelda was right when she said that "I was no Marie Antoinette. I was not born to nobility, but I had a human right to nobility." Why indeed eliminate class which, in practice, means the elimination of the nobility? What happens to class in a classless society? A society of the great unwashed? "Let them eat cake!" so said Marie Antoinette when told that the people were up in arms because they had no bread to eat.

Why aspire to a state of the great unwashed? In Madame's book, we are all better off aspiring to nobility. How wonderful it would be if we are all nobles and royals. Everyone has a title and has the right to wear a crown, coronet, tiara or what-have-you and don ermine. Everyone lives in a castle, a chateau, or a palace!

Imagine, your office cleaner could be the Count of Monte Cristo! While your neighborhood garbage collector could be the Prince of Wales! Or the barista at your favorite coffee shop could be the Archduchess of Austria-Hungary, while the fishmonger at the market could be the the Duchess of Cornwall and the butcher could be the Duke of Alba and the baker could be the Tsarevich of All the Russias. Think of the possibilities, on arriving in Paris, the person driving your cab could be the Sun King himself, and the person checking you in at the Ritz could be the Duke of Orleans. Gosh, how fantabulous. How else could you not be so thrilled when the sushi chef preparing your dinner at Tokyo's Ginza District is the Crown Prince Naruhito? And the list can go on and on....

And wouldn't normal conversation be so classy! With all the highnesses and majesties peppering everyday interactions, who wouldn't be breathless! "Welcome to (Name of coffee shop) I am William Albert Philip and so on and on, Duke of Cambridge, how may I help you?" and you reply "I'd like to have a Cafe Americano, Your Royal Highness." "Will that be for here or to go, Your Most Serene Highness?" and you retort, "for Vandolph, Your Royal Highness!" You wait awhile and you hear, "One Cafe Americano, for His Serene Highness (Your Name), Prince of Smokey Mountain, Protector of Balut, Elector of Isla Puting Bato, Sovereign of etc., etc., etc."

In an Imeldific world, everybody goes from point A to point B in a Rolls-Royce, or a carriage, or a vintage Aston-Martin. There is no place for buses and trains; neither would there be airlines. Everyone flies in his or her own Lear Jet or Airbus 380 or sails in their own custom-made Britannia. Wouldn't that be great!
The Royal Yacht Brittania

See, no traffic! Nobility has its perks!

And everyone's wedding becomes a spectacle watched by two-and-a-half billion other royals. Imagine the pomp and pageantry, everyone can stay glued to the television for days on end with the media matter-of-factly reporting the proceedings. We will be relieved of gushing news reporters and anchors who know not what it is to be part of nobility. "This is Jessica Soho, Queen of Timog Avenue, reporting," while regally balancing a crown on her head holding a microphone on her left hand and waving a scepter on her right, "back to Your Imperial Majesty, Arnold, Emperor of Dapitan, Marquis of Laong-Laan, Earl of P. Noval."

Madame has been the target of so much criticism, maligned and ridiculed, in the end, she made sense.

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