Posted by: Martin Scherer | 18/04/2011

Royal Wedding update

Americans are fascinated – daily media reports of wedding preparations and attendance list, with retailer’s give-aways. In Britain, the wedding seems something of a non-event – Gutter tabloids report it’s all too stressful for the bride, William will not be wearing a wedding ring, and local authorities are making it all too difficult for people to hold street parties.

I guess most Brits will be taking a long weekend as Monday is an official holiday. Many Americans will be glued to the TV spectacle.

Americans are fascination with Royalty, creating their own ‘Royal’ dynasties. From the Kennedys who would have justly been so much more successful had it not been for the assassin’s bullet, to the Bush father and son and the Clinton’s attempt to hand the crown from husband to wife.

In centuries gone by, leadership inheritance created continuity and stability, if only by preventing the pretenders to the crown from plunging the county into civil war. The inheritance is not always welcome as shown by The King’s Speech. King George did his duty to country at a time when needed.

One has to wonder about a society that gives more prestige to a name than individual’s skills and qualities. If we took names literally than every Smithson may be considered of no greater or lesser merit than a country blacksmith. The vast majority of privileged people still believe in the myth that ability, intelligence and rights come from genes rather than gained from hard work and experience. Such societies are inflexible and generally become poorer over time.

Confucius said, ‘up and down in three generations’. The first generation pioneers the opportunity to create real wealth, often multiplied by his son, only to be fritted away in drunken orgy by the grandson. Today communist dictators pass on power through generations. Marx would turn in his grave. The USA was built on the belief that anyone could make it from bottom to top by their own effort in their own life-times. America seems to be loosing its belief in that principle and maybe that is one reason for the decline in America’s fortunes.

Long gone are the days when sons learnt on the job from fathers. Sons do not learn the skills of father, so when they inherit privileged positions, the sons fail in their responsibilities. British society is riddled with such people. It seems America is going that way.

Nearly everyone claims the right to pass on their wealth to children, even the most die hard socialists. My gut claims that right, but my experience tells me inheritance often causes more damage than benefit. First it creates life long division between siblings, who take what they get as a measure of their parent’s love. Every child likes to believe they were special, and so should get more. None wants to believe they deserve any less.

In a culture which expects inheritance, people often live from hand to mouth relying on inheritance to pay for their old age. The inheritance is used to pay off debts rather than create any value. Inheritance de-skills and de-motivates people. Maybe that is one reason for the decline in US fortunes.

The greatest debate on BBC is whether the law will be changed to allow Kate and Williams first born to inherit the crown, whether boy or girl. If that happens the UK will take a step forward. Time for Grandma Queen to retire and allow Prince Charles to do the job. Charles once expressed the wish to be ‘Defender of Faiths’, rather than ‘Defender of THE faith.’ That would be a step forward

Whatever my rational thoughts on inheritance, I cannot deny the magnificent romantic spectacle of a royal marriage. Through tourism, Royalty brings great benefit to the UK. If every photograph of the Royal couple brought just £1 in royalties to the British coffers, the debts created by bankers and politicians would be repaid overnight. Regrettably Chinese manufacturers and American retailers will make the greatest profit.

If William and Kate want to live in the media frenzied goldfish bowl, I thank them for it and wish them greater happiness than they will probably be allowed. If there was one thing Diana and Charles produced it was two remarkable young men, who learnt how to survive – on the job.


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