From The Archives -- Royal Pain

[ Posted Friday, September 17th, 2021 – 16:15 UTC ]

Program Note:

As I warned, there will be no Friday Talking Points column today, as I have other plans. Instead, please enjoy this column from a few years back. I must admit, I forget which particular royal baby had just been born -- and I care so little about it that I refuse to go look it up. Every time one of the British royals procreates I am astonished at the amount of attention Americans (and the American media) heap upon the entire process. After all (as I routinely say whenever anyone brings the subject up in casual conversation), didn't we fight a whole war just so we would never have to pay the slightest attention to the British royalty ever again? I mean, I seem to remember something in the history books about that....

In any case, while the subject isn't current (no royal babies on the horizon that I know of), I had but a limited amount of time to find an old column to run, and this one was just silly enough to catch my eye. So while it's a little late for Silly Season columns, this will have to do for today. And never fear, Friday Talking Points will return next week, same bat time, same bat channel.


Originally published July 22, 2013

[The Scene: A warm Philadelphia evening, 226 years ago. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention -- after a long and miserably-hot day of respectful debate (and quite a lot of just plain bickering) over the text of Article I, Section 10 of the proposed draft of the new United States Constitution -- take up the final item on the agenda. We join the Founding Fathers as they (somewhat-wearily) begin discussion of the final subject of the day. Since the debate was conducted behind closed doors, this re-creation uses no names for the participants, to protect their anonymity.]

Founding Father Number One: And so, fellow delegates, we come to the final item of the day -- should our new United States government confer titles of royalty?

Founding Father Number Two: This is an easy issue to dispose of, so that we may all adjourn to [gestures towards elderly member of the Convention] our beds for a well-deserved rest... or possibly to [gestures towards a crowd of younger, more-boisterous delegates in the back of the room] the local tavern to slake the thirst this long, hot day has raised. [laughter and huzzahs from back of room]. I move that we sweep all the trappings of monarchy aside, and utterly forbid all titles and any other hint of royalty from these newly United States.

FF1: While we can all appreciate adjourning for the day quickly, let us not make haste. Are there any other voices which should be heard?

FF3: [from back of room] Let us all just vote and repair to the ale-house! Enough delay! Nobody wants titles in a nation where all will be equal!

FF4: I rise to differ on this point. [groans from back of room] Please, gentlemen, allow me to speak! [groans subside] I thank you. While every sane man can see quite plainly that royalty and titles and rank are counter to our intentions that all men be treated as equals, I direct your attention to how I just addressed my (ahem) distinguished colleagues just now -- should the term "gentlemen" continue to be used to describe those of a certain standing in society? [room falls silent, as many are taken aback by the concept]

If we were to peer centuries into the future and consider Americans of some far-removed era, it should be obvious that the very notion of royalty will be looked down upon by all, with nothing but the scornful disdain it deserves. Will these unborn countrymen of the future care that some king or queen still reigns in a foreign land? Will the birth of an heir to the British throne even be reported by the newsmongers of the day? The very idea is preposterous, I submit. Americans of such an advanced age will simply not care about such things, since members of royalty will be seen as holdovers from unenlightened times of the past. I simply cannot see any future town crier even bestirring himself to shout such news to the town. I cannot see any American newspaper printing a special edition to harken such news, because Americans will not be interested.

FF5: Prognosticating the future may not be so easy.

FF3: [loudly, from the back of the room] For the love of all that's holy, sit down, Franklin -- nobody wants royal titles, let's vote now and just all go quaff a hearty ale in ten minutes' time! I will buy your first ale myself if you'll just allow us to vote!

FF2: [addressing rowdies in back of room] You sir, are out of order! Dr. Franklin has the floor!

FF5: Thank you for your patience. I am quite sure the taverns will not run out of ale in the short time it takes me to talk, fear not. [laughter from back, and one cry of: "They had better not!"]

I rise merely to point out the vagaries of human nature. We here in America lived under a royal system for centuries before we threw off this yoke of oppression. But since we achieved our freedom from royalty, it seems among some there is still an aching void which must somehow be filled. My friends from New England have largely dropped the term "gentleman," for instance, to show the absolute equality of our new society. Further south, however, the term is still used by all.

Some of us here are not immune to such yearnings. I note that one of the subjects on our agenda is what to call our new executive officer. While some have proposed "Chief Magistrate" as a proper way to address our new executive, and while some favor the shorter "Mister President," there is also a faction which has proposed [consults his notes] "His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of their Liberties" as the only proper address. What is such a title, if not one of the trappings of royalty?

I remind this body of my own professional origins in a newspaper printing office. I fully remember 1762, when Americans were indeed interested in the news of the birth of the current Prince of Wales. When the man who is first in line to become the British king was born, there was much interest in this babe who will eventually be replacing the hated George III. Given our country's history with Britain, even hundreds of years hence, I could see American citizens still hungering for such news.

When a thing is taken away from the populace, it is often missed in its absence. If we deny the American people titles of honor and rank in society -- as I agree we should and must -- then there may still be intense interest in such news from other lands, since we will have denied the populace the pleasure of speculating on such matters here at home. And I can certainly see town criers of the future, and newspapermen as well, vying to be the very first to spread such news. I can even see these future Americans placing friendly wagers as to what the new heir will be called. [hoots of derision from the rowdy section]

If we deny American citizens royalty, then they may just create their own stylings of royalty to set some above the masses. What direction this could take is open to much speculation. For instance, I could see political dynasties forming, where high political offices are passed from father to son. A common laborer with the Gaelic surname "Cinnéide" down at the Boston docks may one day sire a family which absolutely dominates Massachusetts politics for multiple generations, in such a far future time. [wild and angry protests (complete with anti-Catholic abuse) from the crowd in the back, who also begins tossing wads of paper and other small missiles at Founding Father Number Five]

FF1: Order! Order, I say! ORDER! We will have order, or WE WILL NOT ADJOURN ALL NIGHT!!! [rowdies finally settle down]

FF5: I will go further, if I may be allowed. While it may seem far-fetched that mere politicians will be treated as royalty or sire dynasties, the future could be even stranger -- where an exemplary opera singer and the son of the village blacksmith who performs ablest in the yearly contests of sport during the harvest festival are both given, by the general populace, the fawning attention and riches and respect of some Duke or Earl of our own times. [peals of laughter erupt from everyone]

I give you such ridiculous and unthinkable examples for a reason, dear colleagues. As my Poor Richard might say: "The thing most desired is the thing denied." It is true, Americans will likely be too intelligent and well-thinking to ever accord a sporting champion or a popular entertainer the status a member of royalty now commands -- it would be more proper, I think, if the humble librarian or schoolteacher were to be so lauded in the future. Or, perhaps, the federal treasury might benefit from renting titles of royalty on a yearly basis -- which would be a sort of taxation on people who had more money than common sense. [more laughter]

The twists and turns of the future are impossible to see. The consequences of our actions here today may give rise to unforeseen problems. It is not out of the question for Americans in the future to fill their lack of home-grown royalty by vicariously enjoying the birth of a future British monarch. But I submit to you that it will indeed be only vicarious -- and of no real import to any future American citizen's life or happiness. The newsmongers may be filled with joy at how many papers they can sell touting the news of the birth of such a child, but by the next day such a paper will only be good for wrapping fish.

I move for this debate to be ended immediately, and for the draft language to be voted on as a body. [boisterous cheers from the back benches] We have spent many a long and hot hour here today attempting to perfect Section 10 of Article I -- and we still have many a long and hot day ahead of us to complete our work. Let us all vote on simple language barring forever any American from being addressed as any sort of "Lord" and then quickly repair to the house that gives us cheer -- whether that cheer comes from getting early to bed... or from the tap of an ale keg!

[Explosive huzzahs from the back of the room, as the assembly moves to vote.]


United States Constitution, Article I, Section 10, final sentence

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.


[Note: This entire scenario is completely fictional, and was written because I am heartily glad that we will now no longer be getting daily "No news yet!" updates from that London hospital any more, on each and every edition of the nightly news. For historical accuracy: the Federalists in the early Congresses did indeed propose the title "His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of their Liberties" for the president, but it was laughed down by James Madison and others and the simple "Mister President" was accepted instead. For many decades, however, the more-common title used in newspapers and during campaigns was indeed "Chief Magistrate." Oh, and according to some, "Cinnéide" was the Irish spelling of the Kennedy clan, in the dim and distant past. The use of "gentleman" did become regional, as well. What else? George IV was born in August of 1762. The text from the Constitution is real, too. Pretty much everything else, though, is nothing more than the warped product of my own summertime-daydreaming mind.]

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


34 Comments on “From The Archives -- Royal Pain”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    "The thing most desired is the thing denied."

    And so we have the Kennedy family, the Bush family (but not quite the Clinton family. Frankly, I think the Kardashians are Murica's new royalty.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I've got some great 'obscure' bands lined up for Sunday night, some of them psychedelic! I might even have time to raid what's left of my stash first. Heh.

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Okay, my Dear. I'll show up this time, with the last of my Single Malt Glenfiddich!

    And I've got 150 45-r.p.m.s I can dig through for inspiration. Psychadelia? You betcha!

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    imagination it may be, but i wouldn't put it past old ben to predict all these 'fanciful' events which ultimately have come to pass.

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    On walking... realizes that fulfillment cannot come when the present moment is merely a struggle to bear in service of the future, because that future is destined to become nothing more than the struggle of a new present, and the glorious end state never arrives.

  6. [6] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Talking Point:

    Yes, wearing a mask, social distancing and getting vaccinated is a PERSONAL CHOICE. And I make the personal choice to RESPECT myself and my neighbors. A pandemic was always in the cards and this is how grownups deal with it.

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I think that it has more impact when it is in total "boldified" mode, as I like to call it.

  8. [8] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    The Founders were so big on separating Church and State that they included these requirements in our Constitution.

    FREEDOM OF RELIGION is meaningless without freedom from other people's religion. Anti-abortionists are trying to impose their religious beliefs on all of the rest of us. At best, they'll make it more difficult (and dangerous) for poor women in red States to get an abortion. If their Pastor knocks up the Church Secretary THEY won't have any problems getting an abortion.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Even Christofacists should agree that God gave humanity a brain along with freedom of choice, with the understanding that we use both wisely.

    It's STUPID to NOT mask, to NOT socially distance nor take advantage of vaccinations.

    Republicans are doubling down on stupid.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Very nice, Caddy ... are ya coming to the party tonight?

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, well, I don't really care if no one comes tonight. Because, I am going to have a ton of fun, anyways. So, there!

    Welcome, everyone, to the CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party, where we leave politics behind for a few hours and immerse ourselves in the tunes. Which, I hasten to add, may be as political as we wish - we just have to forgo any hint of our own special brand of political commentary. Heh.

    And, with that said, if I've said it once, I've said it a million times ... if ever I am able to travel back in time, I'll fire up the Delorean to take me to Vancouver, sixties to eighties, where the music was happening and anyone who was anybody was there!!!

    So, to get this party off to a rip roarin' start, enjoy this fine seventies tune by Vancouver band, Zingo ...

    Merry Go Round

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, next to Ron Tabak, who is my number one, my second most favourite singer is Nick Walsh.

    Here he is fronting Slik Toxik ...

    helluvatime! ... kind of like what we have right here, every Sunday night, NOT! YET! ... we need some new blood ... hint, hint :)

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    More from my second most favourite band, Slik Toxik with the phenomenal Nick Walsh ...

    Sweet Asylum

    Nick has a new project, well underway ... Famous Underground ... more about that a little later!

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Not bad. I'm glad I stuck around for the killer guitar solo. Never heard of these guys, ya got something else that is tasty?

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, so I just very recently discovered Nick Walsh while he was fronting for Classic Albums Live at the Empire Theatre in Bellville, Ontario during the pandemic.

    Come to think of it, I am thankful for the pandemic, only in the sense that I have discovered and re-discovered (PRiSM) so many great bands during this down time.

    I should have been loving Slik Toxik back in the day but I was too busy listening to, well, other types of music. What can I say ... I'm always late to the party ... well, except for this one. :)

    Anyways, here is a full concert by the phenomenal Canadian band, Slik Toxik!

    Slik Toxik Live in Concert

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    How's this for tasty ...

    Bounty Hunter was a, wait for it, Vancouver based band!

    Enjoy their Pocket Full of Blues

  17. [17] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Day-yam! So you're a ROCKER, ain't you Elizabeth. I never heard of Slik Toxik and I wonder why they didn't go farther.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here is Nick Walsh and Famous Underground with their latest single ... from a must own cd!!!

    Like An Animal

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm a rocker now, I wasn't in the day ... well, except for PRiSM, the only band I got in on the ground floor!

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Famous Underground - Dead Weight

    Ya just gotta love Nick Walsh!

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    He doesn't age like the rest of us ...

  22. [22] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    In on PRiSM's ground floor? That's a rock and roll fantasy right there!

    I don't think it's quite the same thing, but MY rock and roll fantasy happened in late-1970s Ann Arbor. I was bopping down the street and I passed this record shop that was blasting this wonderful music that I'd never heard before. So I walked in, praised their simple but effective sidewalk marketing prowess and bought More Songs About Buildings and Food.

    WITHIN WEEKS, I found myself in shoe-box sized Lydia Mendelssohn Theater, seated in the third row about 20 feet from The Talking Heads. All they did was play the entire album that I'd just bought. Forty-five minutes and they were out of there. During the show I smoked weed and raised my smoldering pipe to the band. I was too shy in those days "rush the stage" which in this case would have entailed walking up to them while they were unplugging and breaking down. Maybe I should have given their fabulous Bassist Tina Weymouth a special "welcome" Ann Arbor.*sigh*

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Wow. Now, THAT is a rock 'n roll story!

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The only PRiSM concert I attended was purely by accident.

    They opened for Styx at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium in 1977, the year of the release of their eponymous debut album, the first debut album, by the way, by a Canadian rock band to achieve platinum status in Canada! I went to see Styx but came home with PRiSM! :)

    Ron Tabak, the late and great vocalist for PRiSM in their heyday (1977-1980), was very unceremoniously fired from the band at the end of 1980. There were serious plans for a reunion in 1984 but, sadly and tragically, Ron was killed in a bicycle accident, Christmas, 1984.

    Thankfully, Al Harlow, member of the classic PRiSM lineup - Lindsay Mitchell(guitar), Al Harlow (bass), Rocket Norton (Drums, Rocket Norton:Lost in Space), John Hall (keyboards, his cousin, Marc Gladstone is current PRiSM keyboardist!), the great Ron Tabak (RIP, lead vocals) - has kept the band alive, and put his own revived solo career on hold, until now!

    Here's a favourite PRiSM:Ron Tabak Era tune that I think you will all love ... off of their 1980 Young and Restless album for which they won the Juno (Canadian Grammy) for Group of the Year in 1981 ...

    PRiSM - American Music

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Speaking of Ron Tabak, here he is on a demo from the project that became PRiSM ...

    Lost Horizons - Ron Tabak - Sunshyne Studio Sessions, 1976

    PRiSM fans everywhere will always and forever wonder what could have been ...

    Turn it up LOUD!

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    In on PRiSM's ground floor? That's a rock and roll fantasy right there!

    Well, they started at the basement. Sadly, I missed out on that part. I wouldn't have if I had lived in Vancouver at the time, I can assure you! :)

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Did someone mention psychedelic? Right, well, how about the Collectors, who later transformed into the great Chilliwack.

    The Collectors - What Love

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, here are the Seeds of Time (must have their cd, Immortal), a prelude to PRiSM, featuring Lindsay Michell on guitar, John Hall on keyboards, and the famous and infamous Rocket Norton on drums ... along with Seeds of Time lead vocalist, Geoff Eddington ... and Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck!

    Vancouver Psychedelic Sixties - Seeds of Time and Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Seeds of Time - My Hometown

    Have a look at the summary under the video!

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, it's past midnight on the other coast. And, I have to work all day tomorrow ... er, today ... alone.

    I shall leave you in good hands with the sounds of Vancouver and Where It's At

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Pleasant dreams, Caddy ... and the video in [22] "is not available" in my neck of the woods. Maybe you can find another link?

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Oh, before I go, here is one more PRiSM tune, from the 1978 See Forever Eyes sessions at the famous Mushroom Studios in Vancouver which never made it to the SFE album. Here is what Al Harlow said of his lovely composition ...

    For "Lonely Town", [Al] wrote the following: "One of mine, from the SF Eyes sessions, ’78, Mushroom studios. Why it was deleted from the album, I can’t recall—internal politics, likely—it’s a shame the world didn’t hear this. A great moment of Ron & I bonding via my writing & Ron’s vocal performance. This one still moves me—Ron did a great job on it."

    Lonely Town - PRiSM Demo(See Forever Eyes Sessions, 1978

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey Caddy, can't sleep ... too many things running through my head, it seems.

    After you put Betty to bed, have a long listen to this ...

    Slik Toxik - Doin' the Nasty (full album)

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You guys can't possibly not love music this much!

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