The Price Of Royalty

by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

Sparkling tiaras, fancy gowns and dresses, extravagant balls and parties, towering castles, gallant carriages, a mighty and handsome prince – becoming a princess is every little girl’s dream. I remember pretending to be one when I was young. And now, I see my daughter love wearing princess dresses and tiaras. I loved Cinderella. She adores Elsa. We love fairytales and we dream of the “happily ever after” they offer. But the reality of royalty is far from the fairytales Disney and Hollywood portray.

The late Princess Diana was my ever first realization of this. When I was in 5th grade, my whole family watched her funeral with the whole world. We were so emotional as we listened to Elton John sing ‘Candle in the Wind’.

Diana, the Princess of Wales lived the life every girl wanted. She was married to a future king. She wore beautiful dresses. She wore a crown. She lived in a castle with her husband and two handsome boys who are in line to sit on the throne.

Princess Diana, the England’s rose, was very popular and she was loved by people all over the world. She was the most photographed woman in her generation. She was all smiles in front of the camera but the hurt she was feeling inside was reflected by the sadness in her eyes.

She had everything the world could offer except for one thing. It was the most important of all – the love of her prince for he was in love with another.

Being a princess doesn’t make one happy after all.

Her consolation? Her two boys, now incredible men, who adored her so much. Looking at William and Harry, Princess Diana had proven to be an amazing mother.

Fortunately, Kate Middleton, now Princess of Wales is a redemption of Diana’s beautiful but tragic life. Prince William, the man Diana raised, though coming from a broken family, loves Kate. And together they are raising a beautiful family– intact and flourishing.

Princesses Diana and Kate – same calling, different outcomes. One thing they shared – the burden to raise future kings and rulers of their nation, such a big responsibility to bear.

But I realized, how much more the queen who had the whole nation on her shoulder?

On September 8, Queen Elizabeth II, the longest serving monarch, breathed her last. Of them all, she had the heaviest burden to carry.

She was supposed to live a (relatively) normal life because her father was not the one next to the throne. But with her uncle’s abdication of his title, young Elizabeth’s life changed forever. Unlike other children, at the age of 25, she was thrust into a position she had no choice to take – be the queen of England.

For 71 years, she had a whole nation to look after and eventually a family to nourish. As she ruled, her nation faced countless challenges that needed her strength and stability. At the same time, she was confronted by scandals that plagued her family and rocked the monarchy.

According to the National Geographic Documentary, Being the Queen, Queen Elizabeth II “sacrificed her family in a way. Duty really came first before personal happiness, and she had her work and that came first. As head of state and of the Church of England, the Queen must make difficult choices for her family.”

In her obituary, the New York Times wrote that her “reign of almost seven decades survived tectonic shifts in Britain’s post-imperial society, inspired broad affection for her among her subjects and weathered successive challenges posed by the romantic choices, missteps and imbroglios of her descendants.”

Princess Diana, Princess Kate, Queen Elizabeth – three women, three different destinies, three different stories. They have the world at their disposal. They have people who will serve them at their every beck and call. They have riches, lavish lifestyles, huge castles and properties. One thing they will never have- a normal life. Eyes are always on them. They are always subject to public scrutiny. They are always expected to follow protocols. They are always held to higher standards. Yes, always. They are royalty. Ordinary is not part of their vocabulary.

Cameras will always follow them. Criticisms, intrigues and scandals will inevitably hound them. I guess this is the price of royalty. It is a great privilege to be bestowed but a heavy burden to carry.

Wearing tiaras, wearing expensive gowns, living in castles, riding horses – carriages will only be a distant dream or a mere imagination for many and the privilege is only given to a few. But these are not what defines royalty. Royalty entails character and strength. Royalty requires wisdom and sacrifice.

To Queen Elizabeth II, thank you for your service and inspiration.

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