* Royalty: an internationally-connected, and often wealthy, group of people who stewards a nation and provides for the large-scale needs of all of the people.
* Peasantry: a locally-connected, and often not wealthy, group of people who steawards the local land and landscape, and who provide for the small-scale needs of all of the people.
* Definitions you see above: idealistic visions of royalty and peasantry, which probably have never been and will never be realized in the actual world.
It doesn't usually work like this. And so royalty is baffling to me, a person who's never lived in a society with any collective experience of royalty. I don't understand the English fascination with royalty.
The other day, we visited a palace. The beauty and impressive grandeur of the place were inescapable. I was impressed.
But just below the surface and equally inescapable to our perception, was a very uncomfortable class system that made itself evident in our experience of the palace - that gave me the feeling of being used by the aristocracy for their own gain at my expense.
What I expected was a tour of the palace and an opportunity to see how a palace might have functioned in the past. That's what we got at the other historical places we've visited on this trip - why wouldn't we expect the same?
I would have loved some kind of compare-and-contrast presentation - maybe a look at the staterooms and the kitchen as they functioned in 1800; maybe an articuilation of the differences between the bedrooms used by a dutchess and her maid's chambers; maybe an explanation of the differences between the life of a 10-year-old son of the duke and the 10-year-old son of the footman.
What we got, though, was a walk thorugh a few staterooms and an un-engaging history of the palace, while most of the palace was private residence and therefore off-limits to the public. Of course, I also got the feeling that my money is being used to prop us a system that benefits very few and has virtually no place in today's world.
Of course, I'm willing to stipulate that there may still be a place in the world for royalty. For that to be the case, though, the whole system would necessarily have to be restructured - everything would have to start from scratch in order to get anywhere close to the ideal.
Of course, one could make similar criticisms of the church.