By Anthony L Hall
Oh dear, students at Cambridge are raising quite a republican fuss over the royal treatment their university is according Prince William. Here’s how the student newspaper, The Tab, framed their outrage in a December 30 report:
‘The Tab’ must point out that normally students need A*AA at A-level to gain entry to Cambridge University, whilst the Prince only achieved a mediocre ABC.
Mind you, it’s not as if William wants to study high finance to provide academic cover for a career in trading off his royal connections -- as his Uncle Andrew has done. The “poor” chap just wants to study agriculture -- not to talk to plants the way his Daddy does, but to help farmers in Britain and Africa (a continent for which he has expressed abiding affinity) the way his Mummy did.
But Melissa Berrill, who graduated last summer, is not impressed. In fact, she was filled with such meritorious indignation that the Guardian invited her to vent her spleen in an “education” editorial:
It’s an insult to every student whose A-levels and degree are the same or better than his, and who didn’t get a free pass to Cambridge in spite of them.
And it’s an insult to everyone in the country who needs skills or training, and hasn’t had a university course personally designed for them.
(December 31, 2013)
I, of course, have been venting my spleen against such royal prerogatives since Miss Berrill and her fellow guardians of Cambridge’s institutional integrity were still in nappies:
What concerns me is that people around the world seem even more vested in this anachronistic institution (namely, the British monarchy) today than they were when William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, got married 30 years ago (on July 29, 1981).
I have long maintained that royalty makes a mockery of the universal principle that all people are created equal. Moreover, that a democracy that perpetuates royalty in the 21st Century is almost as cancerous (and oxymoronic) as one that perpetuated slavery in the 19th.
(“The Problem is Not Kate’s Weight, It’s William’s Title,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 16, 2011)
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com
Therefore, you can be forgiven for thinking that I would be standing in solidarity with Miss Berrill and her cohorts. But I am not. For it’s plainly foolhardy to rail against Prince William for doing as royals do: take royal privileges whenever and wherever it suits them.
It behooves his detractors to understand that the issue here is not William’s royal acceptance at Cambridge; it’s the royal prerogatives that were conferred upon him at birth, which he has and will continue to enjoy throughout life.
Miss Berrill’s editorial would have been far more educational, and I would be standing in solidarity, if she had called on Britons to abolish the monarchy. After all, what’s the point of being a British royal if one can’t get into Cambridge based on royal privilege instead of academic merit for Christ’s sake.
Indeed, what makes this protest all the more ironical, if not farcical, is that William will be studying at the college for which he is the registered royal benefactor. Imagine that.
Alas, acclaimed Cambridge “classicist” and TV presenter Mary Beard only compounded the irony and farce, to say nothing of betraying her own royal pretensions, by countering student protests with this quaint entreaty:
I very much hope that he will take the opportunity to meet some of our more ordinary students, struggling with making ends meet, worried about careers, future and debt.
(Daily Mail, January 5, 2014)
Can you imagine any Harvard professor in her right mind inviting any rich public figure there (of all places) to learn about the hardships of “ordinary” students?
At any rate, William began his 10-week “bespoke” course on earlier this week. And, for the record, The Tab duly notes that he’ll be learning about contemporary issues affecting agricultural business and rural communities….
The British monarchy might be more popular than ever -- as the throngs (perhaps including Miss Berrill) hailing the birth of William and Kate’s son last summer indicates. But this protest over William’s royal acceptance at Cambridge exposes the simmering resentment many Britons have against the perks and privileges that define it.