Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Queen's Birthday - relevant to us all or not?

from w
A funny editorial in the Fiji Daily Post looks at the relevance of Betty Windsor in today's world. I wonder how many homes in Fiji still have old, tattered, newspaper portraits of England's royalty? How relevant are they now?

Truly, an amazing tradition

WHEN the Queen and her family sat down to breakfast yesterday, do you think she spared a thought that half a world away in far flung islands of the South Pacific, normality had been suspended for Tomasi of Tavua, for Leba of Labasa, for Mohammad of Navua and Dirend of Davuilevu so that along with the rest of their fellow citizens in a coup-affected banana republic such as Fiji, their affections, and those of the nation could be transfixed for twenty-four hours on the idea that they were blessed by the day that she was born? As her corgies perhaps looked on, would Elizabeth the Second have rejoiced that a working day in a beleaguered corner of the 180th meridian of her Commonwealth continued to be set aside so that its citizens could celebrate the fact that she, a monarch born 82 years ago in England, could in 2008, still hold sway over their lives?

Would the regent of Buckingham, Windsor and Balmoral have smiled with pleasure that no matter how coup-depleted our economy had become, no matter how difficult life was for the poor and struggling among us, no matter how preoccupied we were with restoring a just democracy, we could still afford to set aside one day in our calendar year to contemplate
Her Majesty’s importance and relevance to our national life?

While the Queen is undoubtedly a person of significance in the history of the British Empire, the Commonwealth, and Fiji, and undoubtedly a person whose birthdays deserve public acclamation among her ethnic and aristocratic kith and kin, we are a long way from the days described by poet laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson: ‘Son, be welded, each and all into one imperial whole, One with Britain, heart and soul! One life, one flag, one fleet, one Throne!’ A new world has entered Fiji’s consciousness since Ratu Sukuna promised the Great Council of Chiefs five decades ago that ‘we Fijians are a race of people who by tradition have always been accustomed to pay respect to the Throne’ and that ‘our loyalty and respect to our (new) Queen will continue steadfast as before’.

The question of just what the Queen represents in this day and age in this part of the world is moot. Her own British people are now part of the European Union. The orientation of her governments are less and less centered on how those who were once part of the greatest empire on the planet are faring. For most in the indigenous Pacific, the Queen is now, at best, a symbol of an interesting chapter of our history and a curious reminder of how deep, past affections and traditions can extend into this post-colonial, post-modern present. Many are glad, no doubt, for having another day off work, for another public holiday, but the cause for it in this republican era of Fiji’s independence will seem a tad contrived until Her Majesty’s abiding influence and mutual concern for our national political good can again be demonstrated.


nzm said...

It's not even her birthday that we celebrate in June, rather it was King George III's birthday. It was known as King's Day or King's Birthday as George III was born on 4th June.

QEII was born 21st April, but rather than have a day off in April which would sometimes clash with Easter, it was decided to keep the holiday in June, and to continue releasing the Birthday Honours List at this time.

Queen Elizabeth II was also crowned on 3rd June, so in essence the date has some relevance to her as the official date on which she became Queen.

As far as her significance to Fiji, her (and England's) duties and responsibility to the country became moot upon independence in 1970, and even further when Fiji became a republic.

Why should she even think about a country which officially turned its back on England by its political actions?

I do believe that this is a good indication of how a country can be in so much confusion and turmoil when the government or leaders can do one thing (claim Fiji as independent and a republic), yet a lot of the ordinary citizens still hold the Queen in such high regard and affection, keep old pictures of her on their walls, and wonder what she is thinking!

Wilson said...

I just like holidays in general >.>


Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello NZM,
It's really lazy to just keep on having irrelevant birthdays such as this one. Anyway for me, everyday is a holiday as I don't have to go to work!
Hello Wilson,
Okay, but it is rather bizarre in Fiji that holidays on the calendar that are really applicable for sections of the community - the colonial diehards, Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Ied, Ratu Sukuna Day, etc. but at least the variety of points of view is accepted and everyone has a holiday! We used to have Cession Day on October 10th which became Republic Day and now Fiji Day - I think!

Count Robert Décsey von Deés said...

Sadly, many forget the true significance of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, but it's not even about a specific monarch -- it's about monarchy in general and the celebration of tradition and a person above and beyond the crooked parliamentary politicians.

The Queen is a living Constitution and an institution -- an institution that has existed for approximately 1500 years.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Super-riches and status and privilege by birth are things that belong to past history, not the 21st century. Symbolic queens and kings maybe are okay but they ought to ride bicycles and not wear jewelled crowns!
Okay, Robert?

Count Robert Décsey von Deés said...

It's funny you should say "outdated" when referring to a monarchy. What is the government of the 21st century? Republic? Democracy? With all due respect, concepts of democracy and republics have been around since ancient Greece and Rome. So you mean to tell me that feudal monarchies, which did not come around until AFTER the fall of the Roman Republic is more outdated than the form of government that preceded it?

With all due respect, you are failing in your post hoc ergo propter hoc logic.

It's ok, I think I will dedicate a post on my blog for this irrational thinking. You should feel special ;)

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Robert, take my posts with a grain of salt please. I like hyperbole, exaggeration and logic doesn't matter so much!
When I was a child I collected pictures of the 'royal family' as the Women's Weekly was full of stories about coronations and so forth. But we have grown up a bit since that time and many Australians think a republic is the way to go.

Count Robert Décsey von Deés said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Count Robert Décsey von Deés said...


Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Okay Robert,
Now don't let me get started on the pope, eh! Hmmmm.
And will Australia let Fiji's Archbishop Petero Mataca into Sydney for the World Youth event as he has been appointed to assist our Interim Prime Minister in some tasks, and those associated with the military government are banned from visits to both Australia and New Zealand.