Not long ago, we used to sing the glory of King as our National Anthem. The words were difficult even for adults. As children we could not understand its meaning, so we could not sing it. A revolution changed everything. Even if it was led by a man who went antimonarchist at his old age, we got a National Anthem that truly reflects our feelings. Watch players singing the Anthem after they defeated India in the South Asian Games, you’ll understand what I mean.
Six days ago, Prince Henry of the UK, popular as Prince Harry landed in Kathmandu. Holiday, the Spring festival of colours had already begun. In the Kathmandu, Holi is a week long festival with the actual colourful celebration on the seventh day. He added colours on our faces this Holi. He actually participated in the celebration of the festival at Pokhara.
There was a time when the British Empire ruled the world. “The sun never set in the British Empire,” I had been taught. Most countries attained freedom from the Empire during the rule of George VI, the great grandfather of Prince Harry. The Prince got much attention in the media. After all, the British Royal Family is still one of the most influential institutions. A member of that institution had made his first official landing that day. The Prince got the attention he deserved. But he also grabbed a fair amount of respect during his official visit to Nepal
His plain clothing, indulgence in the acts of wood-carving and visits to the camps of the earthquake victims added glory to his charm. People (including me) have already started posting pics, memes and blogs praising the Prince. He is staying a week longer than his official visit and he has not demanded security or anything but has been willingly participated in healing the wounds of last year’s earthquake victims.
We are what I believe in a nostalgia the Prince created this week. Most people of my father’s age might have remembered King Birendra, when he was a Prince and his sons Dipendra and Nirajan. The course of history changed after their assassination and Gyanendra Shah became the King. I bet that we were insecure because the throne would eventually go to his son Paras, who has a bad reputation among the public as a drug abuser. There was one way the civic right activists and politicians knew that would certainly abolish the fear- remove the Monarch. We could not let our fates be decided by an incompetent heir to the throne. Our fates had to be decided by ourselves. No system could do that better than the Republican system.
Once the civic right activists and the politicians convinced people to throw off Monarchy, people came down to the streets. They threatened to capture the Royal Palace, albeit peacefully. Each and every part of the nation saw the surge of people who had finally decided that they needed someone among themselves to rule and not someone who would automatically handover his powers to his son- no matter how incompetent or disliked he is. For the first time, we wanted to be our own masters.
Some days prior to the British Prince’s visit, I saw this article on Facebook. The article proves that Monarchy still exists among us as its ghost. The ghost will not move out unless we seek better ways of ruling ourselves. We have the keys but we keep losing them, sometimes because we listen to our neighbours and sometimes because we can not choose among ourselves the brightest and the ablest. I still believe that democracy is the only way to go forward. No dictator or monarch is going to save us- that’s the path we had chosen when we had become a part of the antimonarchist movement. That’s the way we sing the National Anthem in its true sense.
[Note to the politicians: Just look at the way the British Prince acted this week. Most of you came from poor families, you struggled for a penny in your childhood, you spent the most productive years of your lives fighting the Monarchs including the King I mentioned above. Now that you have become lavish-rich, you have forgotten your grounds. If a Prince can be down-to-earth, why can’t you?
Note to the Common Nepalese: By choosing Republican system over Monarchy, we have given ourselves the upper hand. If that means something, its time we wake up. We are our own masters. Those bureaucrats, parliamentarians and ministers are those who we selected or are responsible for our well being. We can bring the individual crooks down. Bringing down the system will be a disaster.]