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L.A.’s Stars Shone Brightly on their Celebrity, But in Canada’s Red Glow Will and Kate are Family

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The Beatles' Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles

“We haven't seen a love-in like that since the first visit of the Beatles.”  - PM Stephen Harper joking about the crowd’s reaction to the couple's Canada Day appearance on Parliament Hill

For anyone who has joined the crowds to catch a glimpse of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, more affectionately known as Will and Kate, there is no question that this couple received a rock-star welcome everywhere they appeared publicly on their Royal Tour of Canada. Any couple that has hundreds of media reporters from around the world following them rightly deserve to be called celebrities.  Afterward when they flew to Los Angeles, the city of the world’s most famous celebrities, and no doubt the media attention on their celebrity intensified even more than it had previously on their tour. And yet, for most Canadians it’s probably not sights and sounds of the three-hundred thousand strong crowds gathered around Parliament Hill cheering them on like its ‘the first visit of the Beatles’ all over again that will be most remembered. 

No, it’s those personal moments with the Royals not always captured by the flashes of the cameras or the ears of news reporters. It’s those stories of encounters with the Royals that are most remembered. The small anecdotes that are recalled and passed down from parents to children, grandparents to grandchildren.  Indeed, the power of celebrity should not be understated as it stays in the minds of people even into old age.  And when many think back to their childhoods, they often do think of the celebrities they admired like music performers or other television stars. Why else would so many people have been deeply moved upon hearing the death of a celebrity like John Lennon? And yet for most people, even of that generation, these sights and sounds of celebrities from childhood are not the ones that will be most remembered.

No, it’s those intimate moments alone with siblings, parents, and grandparents that have the strongest impression on most people’s minds.  As memorable as the Beatles’ Ed Sullivan appearance was, could it compare to the memory of your dad taking you fishing for the first time?  Or the memory of your mum taking you by the hand on your first day of school?  Although we live in a media-driven world in what some even  refer to as the age of celebrity, it seems that these quieter, face-to-face moments with kin continue to make the most lasting impression on us.  Is it little wonder then that when celebrities themselves are asked ‘Who did you admire most growing up?’, that the question is often quickly followed-up  with ‘excluding your parents of course.’  It’s because there’s something more indelible on the human heart than celebrity, and that is family.

Prince William reminds the crowd of his mother, Princess Diana, as he 
blushes at the attention from the crowds in Ottawa on Dominion Day. 
Kate looks on at her husband.
So you might be wondering at this point what all of this has to do with the Royal couple. The answer is that it has everything to do with them! A mere few weeks ago Canadian republicans, those modern-day roundheads who want to abolish the monarchy, were pointing to the weak celebrity of the Prince of Wales as evidence that the Crown in Canada is irrelevant. After nine days of Canadians basking in the glow of Will’s beet-red face, even the staunchest republican concedes that he and Kate have brought a celebrity status to the realm of the red maple leaf.  Having seen the throngs of crowds come out to greet the Duke and his new bride, it’s now impossible for them to deny their celebrity status.  However, what they cannot or refuse to hear about those personal relationships they are making with Canadians on their walkabouts.

To be sure, Canada’s future King and Queen are world celebrities as the bright lights of Los Angeles have shown. No doubt even republicans and disinterested passerbyers will continue to acknowledge them as such. But this isn’t why Canada loves Will and Kate. No, it’s because for the Royals we in Canada are a part of their family.  Like John Lennon in his day, would today’s biggest music celebrity Lady Gaga appeal to such a vast cross-section of Canadians young and old, men and women, Anglophone and Francophone, and from so many national backgrounds? And even if so, it’s unlikely Gaga’s celebrity would afford her personal connections Canadian veterans and school children alike.  Canada’s love-in with Will and Kate is a celebration of family traditions over celebrity cults, and creating lasting memories between members of that family.