The British royals' list of who must defer,to whom, more properly known as Order Of Precedence Of The Royal Family To Be Observed At Court, has been revised to reflect the marriage of Prince William. The gist of the revision is that Kate, Prince William's bride, must curtsy to her husband's cousins, Beatrice and Eugenie. Beatrice and Eugenie, the Princesses of York, may be best known for questionable couture and hideous taste in hats at public events. Incidentally, both of the Princesses of York are younger than Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
It should be noted that Kate's rank in the order, as is that of Camilla, the wife of Prince Charles, is elevated when she is accompanied by her husband. The only royal spouse whose rank in the order is unaffected by the presence or absence of his spouse is Prince Philip, husband of queen Elizabeth.
Tabloid journalists are having a field day with the latest revision of the Order of Precedence. Speculation has it that the Order was a deliberate tactical move designed to make it clear to Kate that, popular though she may be with the press and with the public, she is still royal by marriage only, and, as such, is subordinate and inferior to those who are royal by blood and birth. others insist that the latest revision to the Order of Precedence is a formality and was hardly unforeseen. others say the queen is behind this prior revisions, while others suggest that the royal advisers (to whom the late Princess Diana referred as "The Firm") have too much time on their hands and must justify their positions by creating such protocol. Still others wonder who could possibly have so little going on in his or her life as to actually care about any such matters.
I personally think the entire matter is considerably silly. Furthermore, precisely what does the Queen or anyone else in power plan to do if Princess Kate chooses not to curtsy to the Bad Hat Ladies? Lock her in the tower of London? Take away her tiaras? Force her to eat nothing but British food (UGH!) for a month? One more observation: if the other consorts are so drastically affected by the presence or absence of their powerful spouses, precisely what exempts Prince Philip from the demotion in the absence of his spouse? Could it be . . . . . . . sexism?
As an American, this is neither my concern nor my business. I probably should leave it to those who know more about it or whose tax dollars support the institution of monarchy. Still, it is a matter of great curiosity to me. extending it a bit further, can anyone imagine if a similar system of deference were established in the U.S. domains of politics. What if the Romneys had to bow or curtsy to the Obamas (until, in a worst-case scenario, after the 2013 inauguration)? Our own Order of Precedence would presumably mirror the order of succession to the presidency, but where would spouses, children, and significant others fit into the picture? Then one would have the added issues related to the changing of the guard with each election. Would the shift occur during or after the lame duck period? The possibilities are virtually infinite as well as incredibly stupid.
The British are much more civilized and more easily led than are we Americans, who would never stand for such starchy protocol. This is just as well. We as a nation can barely agree to provide health care to children whose parents can't afford it, which would seem to be a no-brainer. How could we ever create and agree upon any sort of Order of Precedence?