King ng ina mo

The coronation of King Charles III this coming 6 May, and the 83rd birthday last Sunday of Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, have once again brought to the fore one mind-blowing fact: the institution of the monarchy has survived, alive and well, well into the new century. In that, it has outlived civilizations, empires, nations and even entire species. It seems that only Juan Ponce Enrile has pre-dated the concept.

It is curious to note that, even with the end of autocratic regimes all over the world during the last half-century, and the rise in their stead of democracies and free market economies, there are still persons who — to a greater or lesser extent — exercise some sort of power over so-called “commoners.”

Even better for them, their entire existence — from cradle to grave (or even longer, as a friend quipped, “from erection to resurrection”) — is financed from the coffers of the public. To top it all, they are considered celebrities in their own right. You’d probably think, “What a life,” until you see all these royals in highly dysfunctional families. Truly, privilege can have its pitfalls.

The idea of one family reigning over a territory under a hereditary regime, whereby the throne is passed from one generation to the next, dates back to the mists of early history. It also appears to be universal; royal families are not exclusive to Europe, as there are records of them in Egypt even before Christ, in Africa, in the Middle East, and even in Asia. China had its Emperor. Even locally, before Magellan claimed the Philippines in the name of Castille, Muslim rajahs ruled defined territories in our archipelago. Rajah Humabon, one of the first to welcome Magellan to our lands, was recognized by the native populace as the “king of Sugbo Island.” Trivia: The Pope in Rome is considered by many political scientists to be, strictly speaking, a monarch, although his power is not hereditary.

In all, there are some 26 (or 27, depending on the definition) monarchies in the world, their heads going by various names: king, queen, empress, emir, etcetera. The Kings of the motel chain fame, however, are not considered royalty. Except by some aficionados, but my lips are sealed.

Since it doesn’t look like the institution of royalty will be going away any time soon, it would be best to be familiar with some rules regarding it.

Usually, we think of a monarch as a male, a king. And the throne descends almost always to the first-born male (called primogeniture). But since many kings did not have a male issue in the past, some rules were made enabling females who were the king’s eldest biological child to ascend to power. These are called “Queen Regnant.” These are women who actually exercise sovereign power, as contradistinguished from “Queen Consorts” who are the wives of reigning kings (like Charles’s Camilla). Then there are the “Queen Mothers,” widows of kings who have died and have passed on the kingdom to their eldest sons. The last two wield no real (or direct) power.

Although wives of kings are called queens, husbands of queens regnant are not called “kings,” instead, they are called “princes consort” (like Philip of Elizabeth II). As such, by law, they literally must bow down and obey their wives, who are their sovereign. I know a lot of my male friends do this to their wives, but I ain’t saying.

While the majority of royal houses had lost their power at the start of the 20th century (with some, like the Romanovs of Russia even losing their lives), the fascination of people for royals has remained. So, if you are a British subject, you will definitely have to owe allegiance to King Charles II, your monarch, and that of your family. Indubitably, Charles will be the King ng ina mo.

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