It's time to talk about the Royal Men
While I'll discuss the gentlemen in the royal family from time to time, this blog is (obviously) primarily about the royal ladies. However, that is going to change for one day and one day only. I want to start by saying that this is just my opinion and, of course, there are two sides to every story but there is a very noticeable pattern going back centuries across a lot of Royal Houses and I want to talk about it.
I've had some thoughts about this for a while but what is happening in the Danish Royal Family has finally pushed me to write about it. Now let me be clear: this post is focusing solely on those born into royal houses, not those who have married in or are royal by any other means. We can talk about the issues with people who marry into the royal families another time, but for now, please leave any comparisons or stories about those royals alone. This is only about those who are royal by birth.
Now that that is clear here is my hot take for the internet to enjoy:
Men born into the royal family who are not in the direct line (i.e. the chance of them ever being monarch is slim to none) have a glaring entitlement problem, especially when they grew up as the "spare".
Now I'll be the first to admit I hate the word "spare". I think it likens a human being too much to an object and I don't think it's always accurate. Some of the most well known or beloved British monarchs grew up as the "spare" (i.e. Henry VIII, George VI) and none of the Queens throughout British history were expected to reign when they were born.
I will also be the first to admit that this is a blanket statement that doesn't necessarily hold true for every single man in every single royal family in Europe. But it, unfortunately, holds true for a lot of them. Today, I want to talk about why I think that is and it boils down to one word: Patriarchy.
We live in a patriarchal world, and while it has improved dramatically over the last century, there is no country on this earth that isn't impacted by the patriarchy. Every single country has patriarchal ideas and structures woven into the very essence of its political, economical, religious, and secular structures. It's not a secret that patriarchal societies hurt women (and non-binary people) a lot more than they hurt men but we would be naive to say the patriarchy doesn't also have a negative impact on men.
Now, is that an excuse for poor behavior? Of course not. But I think it is time we have a discussion about it. So, why is patriarchy responsible for second or third born sons having issues in royal families? Well Patriarchy, by its definition is "a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it."
So, what happens when you grow up as a man in the upper echelons of society that tells you that men are supposed to hold power, that they are entitled to it? What happens when a man spends most of their life, especially their early life, really close to that power? What happens when a man spends their life believing that it is their right to have that power, when they forge an identity from that power since the earliest moments in their life? What happens when they grow up with powerful family and friends? What happens when that power starts to slip away when an older sibling starts having kids of their own?
I think we've seen the answer to that playing out time and time again with a lot of royal men. And none of the solutions have been all that great for the family or for these Princes. We've seen them trying to forge their own paths outside of the family, often outside of the country. We've seen them trying to maintain friendships with men outside the family who hold power, sometimes the most vile men in the world (and most of you know who I'm alluding to here). We've seen them speaking out against the royal family, against their own families. We've seen them arguing for and on behalf of what their children are entitled to.
But the thing about all of this is it's only the men born into royal families causing these problems.
Princess Anne was actually happy her kids didn't have titles, she never complained about it to the media as she was walking into work. Princess Madeleine never spoke out publicly against her family after relocating to the States to live in her husbands country. While I'm sure there are exceptions, I couldn't find a princess of a European royal family who had a dedicated "controversy" or "scandal" or "corruption" section on their wikipedia pages. But there are endless examples of this exact thing for Princes not in the direct line from today and going back centuries.
This could just be because women have largely been excluded from history so there are fewer examples that have been recorded. It could just be that the abolition of male primogeniture is still relatively new so royal women never felt entitled to certain privileges the way that men do. It could be because in a patriarchal society, men are given more of a voice to complain or speak out against things than woman. Whatever the reason, it's a pattern I sincerely hope doesn't continue into the next generation of royals.
But I also propose one final reason that this might be happening, specifically within the Danish and British royal families. The British royal family was led by a woman for 7 decades. Queen Margrethe II has led the Danish royal family for fifty years now. I might lose some of you here but I don't think its an accident that the men in these families, the two European royal families led by women, have been causing drama and controversy for years, even decades.
I think, even subconsciously, it's hard for these "spare" Princes who have grown up with the patriarchy woven into their subconscious to see a woman leading them, a woman outranking them and knowing they will never be of greater or even equal rank to them. I think there's a reason that the men in these two families are far more willing to speak out publicly against the institutions that elevate a woman above them.
Now, I say all of this as a woman who lives in a patriarchal world and feels the effects of sexism almost every day. I say this as someone who studied gender and women history in school. I say this as someone who makes a conscious decision to focus on the royal ladies instead of the royal men. I say this as someone who has written about the sexist coverage faced by the women of windsor. I say this as I see men online perpetuating deeply ingrained misogynistic microaggressions every single day. Basically, I say all of this as a woman who is hyper-aware of sexism & patriarchal structures and am desperate to call those structures out and break them down until they can't hurt women anymore.
Maybe I'm reaching, but I really can't help but feel that I see Princes acting far more entitled than Princesses but yet woman are mockingly called "princesses" when they ask for equal treatment to the men in their lives. xx