As an Irish Maori, I have little time for British royalty, ancestors on both sides having suffered the ill-effects of British rule. Thus, when I heard that Prince William, Prince of Wales, would be visiting Aotearoa to represent his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and express the royal family’s sadness over the Christchurch earthquake and the Pike River mining tragedy, I was suitably unimpressed. The journalist and skeptic in me viewed it as an effective marketing ploy for a rapidly shrinking Commonwealth.
I still view it that way, but have to salute the effectiveness of the visit. I have just listened to the prince’s speech at the National Memorial Service in Christchurch and applaud everything he said. From the opening words – “My grandmother once said that grief is the price you pay for love” – to the closing Maori blessing – “Kia kaha – Be strong” – every word seemed heart-felt and appropriate. William acknowledged the Japanese people also and his speech was a stark contrast to that given by our prime minister, John Key, at the Pike River memorial. (In which he essentially told mothers who were in fear of raising children without a father not to worry, he grew up without a father and look what he became. Without meaning any disrespect to the Pike River families, I would consider culling my own children rather than having them become John Key.)
I, for one, would favor continuing to be part of the Commonwealth on this speech alone. The fact that the royals cared enough to have someone craft such an appropriate speech indicates to me that we are better having a Brit royal as nominal head of state than to confer the title of president on a dolt such as Key.
The transcript of William’s speech is here, with one typo (units should be unites): http://www.nzherald.co.nz/christchurch-earthquake/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502981&objectid=10713386