So it seems that we’re to have a visit from Prince William. As might be expected from a PM who restored our archaic “honours” system, John Key has been positively gushing at the prospect:
Prince William will address the thousands of people expected at next week’s national memorial service for the victims of the devastating Christchurch earthquake. St James’s Palace today announced the prince will attend the March 18 service at North Hagley Park on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, and will also visit Greymouth to speak to the families of the Pike River Coal mine disaster. Prime Minister John Key told reporters today that Prince William would speak at the memorial service.
“This is a heart-warming gesture that will mean a lot to the thousands of people whose lives have been forever changed by these events,” Mr Key said.
“I think all New Zealanders will appreciate the gesture from The Queen to ask Prince William to come down. It’s a very important step that he’s taking because it shows you the international feeling for Christchurch and Cantabrians.”
Mr Key said it would mean “an awful lot” for the prince to make the long trek from Britain to take part in the service.
“The long trek from Britain” – is he coming by camel?
I’ve nothing against members of the Royal Family personally — they didn’t ask for the job. But I do think that as an institution they have no further relevance to NZ, and the sooner we’re a republic (with a special “grandfathering” clause for The Treaty) the better. With respect to this visit, I find it hard to imagine what William, a young man with little life experience and a very privileged background, could possibly contribute once he gets here. What can he say to a family from East Christchurch whose house is in ruins? What can he do for a young mother in Greymouth who lost her husband at Pike River?
We already have a popular but useless celebrity “leader” swanning about the country to make people feel good and hog the cameras. Do we really need a second one? I’m pretty sure that given the choice between Prince William and a plane load of portaloos, the people of Refugee City in Christchurch would opt overwhelmingly for the latter.
All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.