It was the fall of 1997. Princess Diana’s body had barely been pulled from the smoky wreck, and the world was still bawling along to “Candle in the Wind.”
While most were busy admiring Elton John’s ability to capture the sentiments of mourners, a small hive of cynical student journalists looked on in disgust. Aside from the sick feeling they felt at watching the music industry kick into high gear on the grave of the dead princess, they were simultaneously aghast Lady Di affected the world so profoundly. What did Diana do that was memorable beyond her tabloid-driven existence? Some say she was humanitarian, but her monarchy status garnered her much more attention. Was she a martyr? Unlikely. The whole affair left a bad taste in their mouths. And they made Elton John a knight. Sir Elton John. (Insert eye gouging and gagging here.)
So a ill-fated idea was hatched. In one of the most macabre exercises ever conducted in the Gauntlet offices, that group of editors created the first ever Gauntlet Dead Pool.
Similar in structure and procedure to an everyday hockey pool, each of the contestants met on a Thursday afternoon and drew straws to decide in what order they would go around the room pondering who would next bite the dust. With well over $100 going to the winner, each chose 10 names ranging from Castro to the Queen to other people in the office. Naturally, the Pope was off limits.
Which brings us to the point of this editorial. This week, on Feb. 6, Queen Elizabeth the Second passed the 50th anniversary of her rule. Of course, this led to the identity-based soul searching Canadians are prone to. Editorialists diligently debated the merits of our constitutional monarchy and unsurprisingly, asked if we should mimic the American republican system. How do the yanks do it? We always ask ourselves that.
But much like Princess Diana’s paparazzi-riddled existence, it has long been recognized that the Queen serves little purpose to most Canadians. As the British tabloids gave Diana little substance during her life, the notion of monarchy in Canada is just as flimsy. The Queen is an iconic tribute to our commonwealth history. While the entire Canadian system of government is archaically founded on the monarchy, it might be about time to sweep that out-although that might have the (un)fortunate side effect of ridding of us our colourful Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. Depends who you talk to.
Deputy Prime Minister John Manley seems to agree, and has made comments to the effect that we should dispose of Canada’s monarchial ties. A National Post editorial reads: “Last May, Mr. Manley told a CBC reporter that Canada’s head of state should ‘reflect Canadian diversity’ and be ‘chosen by Canadians.’” Even British citizens seem to care less about the monarchy-recent poll results show that few consider the 50th Jubilee of the Queen as anything significant.
Canadians may actually be making more of a fuss of it than the British are.
Looking ahead, future Gauntlet Dead Pools give the 75-year-old (un)promising odds. In the same sick way that those old editors contemplated how to best win money from their peers by correctly predicting murder, accident and/or assassination, we now contemplate what might happen in Canada when we finally cut our ties to the Queen. At least we know where our bets are headed.