Sunday, July 12, 2009

Interview of Marilyn Braun: A Royal Watcher and Blogger

I am a staunch anti-royalist person. I am a strong supporter of Republican form of government and I find it very difficult to accept any kind of monarchy in the world of 21st century. Well, you may argue that England has constitutional monarchy and the Queen (or the King) is just the symbolic head of state. May be you are right but still I always believe that the head of a country should be elected (directly or indirectly) by the people and it should not pass through father to son. Anyway, that does not mean that I do not have any interest on royalty. In fact, I am a regular reader of Marilyn's Royal Blog. If you visit the blog then you will also like it- I am sure about it. Marilyn Braun is the blogger and she has the skill to make the royal characters alive through her writing.

Many of us have the notion royal history is just boring stories about kings and queens. I can confidently say that you will be forced to change your idea when you visit the blog of Marilyn Braun. She is passionate about the subject and that would make you to enjoy reading her entries more. Marilyn Braun has received some media coverage because of her blog and passion. Marilyn also has another two blogs: The Royal Chronicles and The Kate Middleton Report. In BlogTalkRadio, she has a talk show called “The Royal Report”.

I was interested to do an interview with her for a long time. I sent her the questions thorough email. Here is the interview for the readers:

Razib Ahmed: Why did you get interested about royalty in the first place?

Marilyn Braun: I developed an interest in the royal family when Prince William was born - June 21st, 1982. I remember hearing about it on the radio and wanting to see the first pictures of him. That led to learning about the rest of the family. Prior to his birth it really wasn't on my radar. I have a vague recollection of hearing about Charles and Diana's wedding in 1981 and wondering what all the fuss was about.

Razib Ahmed: In your blogs, I have noticed that you give a lot of coverage tothe British Royal family. There are some other royal families inEurope. Is there any special reason that you are mostly interestedabout British Royal family?

Marilyn Braun: I've always had an interest in British royalty. Maybe being Canadian has something to do with it. I knew a bit about the Dutch royal family because I'm part Dutch but I didn't really realize that there were other royal houses out there until the internet came along. There aren't very many books on other royal families so I'd say that because of the internet I now have more of an interest in the Scandinavian families, the Dutch, the Spanish and a bit of the Japanese royal family. I will always be primarily interested in the British family. Maybe it's a comfort zone thing!

Razib Ahmed: In my own city, many people I know feel that after death ofPrincess Diana, the British royal family has lost much of itsattraction. Do you agree with this kind of sentiment?

Marilyn Braun: Yes I do. Diana really made the royal family interesting, brought a certain glamour which had been missing since the heyday of the Queen and Princess Margaret when they were younger. British royalty has existed for a thousand years but Diana really helped increase peoples interest in it. At least it increased mine. Since she's died there's been a void in the family which hasn't been filled.

Razib Ahmed: Who is your most favorite royal figure and why?

Marilyn Braun: I would have to say that Diana is my favorite royal figure. She's the one that really fired up my interest in the royal family. She made it interesting. Her being in the royal family moved the subject beyond something in history books. She gave the family glamour, something that was sorely lacking then and is lacking now.

Razib Ahmed: We have seen rules of two queens in the last two centuries-Victoria and Elizabeth II. Both of them ruled for a long time(Elizabeth is still there). How would you asses these two queens?

Marilyn Braun: When I think of the two Queens I think of duty and consistency. Both of them command great respect. They have some similarities: both succeeded to the throne when they were young women and their reigns started with great promise. Prior to Victoria becoming Queen, her middle-aged uncles had mistresses and illegitimate children, the public wanted something different. Victoria was 18 when she came to the throne. She was young, consistent and dutiful. There was a certain promise in having a young monarch, especially a female one. It's the same with Elizabeth II. She was 25 when she came to the throne, a real change after having 4 middle aged kings. She was young, glamourous, with a handsome husband and two small children. She seemed to have it all. As Victoria and Elizabeth have gotten older they have become a by-word for duty but their images are different, Victoria's was very formidable whereas Elizabeth II has a more human one. Elizabeth may not give her name to an era like Victoria but she'll be just as tough an act to follow for her heir.

Razib Ahmed: Two women caused a lot of controversy for the British royal familyin the 20th century. First there was Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (alsoknown as Lady Simpson) who married King Edward VIII and for thismarriage Edward had to abdicate the throne. Then, in our own time, wehave Camilla (Parker), the wife of Prince Charles. Don’t you thinkthat a lot of negative criticism has been hurled at them just becausethey were women?

Marilyn Braun: I don't know that it's because they were women. I can't think of a male equivalent situation to compare it to. Maybe if the tables had been turned in that respect there might have been more appeal, more romanticism in public reaction - the princess/Queen chooses her commoner knight in shining armour. I think that a lot of the negative criticism came from the way they looked/look, especially the Diana/Camilla comparison. Many people could not see the appeal to either of them. If they'd both been unbelivably beautiful the reaction to them might have been different.

Razib Ahmed: Also, the British people were not ready to accept Lady Simpson toaccept as their queen decades ago. However, now, they do not seem tohave any problem with Camilla Parker. Isn’t it an act of hypocrisy? After all, many people still feel that Camilla was responsible for thebreak up of the marriage between Charles and Diana while, Lady Simpsonwas dedicated to her husband until the end.

Marilyn Braun: People could look upon it has being hypocritical but I think it's more a sign of the times. If Edward and Wallis were to happen now it would be a different story. I don't think people look upon Wallis and Edward as a great love story. They spent the rest of their days in exile and regardless of their devotion they seemed like sad figures. With regards to Charles and Camilla, I personally never expected them to get married. I didn't think it could happen and I was surprised when the engagement was announced. There are still people who have a problem with Camilla, even though her behavior has been exemplarary since her marriage. Yes she did come between Charles and Diana and there wil always be people who hate her because of that. But ultimately Charles and Diana were mismatched and their marriage might have ended regardless. The biggest indication that people are unsure of Camilla is her title. For instance, when the Queen dies, instead of being Queen Camilla she will be HRH The Princess Consort. Right now she is legally Princess of Wales but because the title is so associated with Diana she has chosen to be known as Duchess of Cornwall instead. I don't think there would be a question of her titles if people universally approved of her.

Razib Ahmed: I should have asked this question first. How many blogs do you haveand how much time you give for updating them every week.

Marilyn Braun: Right now I have 3 - Marilyn's Royal Blog, The Royal Chronicles, and The Kate Middleton Report. I also have a weekly internet radio show called The Royal Report. At the moment a lot of my focus is on my show, gathering material and writing the scripts. I don't spend as much time as I'd like with updating my blogs, especially Marilyn's Royal Blog and The Kate Middleton Report which is exclusively about Prince William's girlfriend. I used to write a lot of informative articles - which is really how MRB started. Those take a lot of time to research, they're not articles you can just throw together, I also want to be able to stand behind what I write, maintain credibility. It's not my style to write about the day to day goings on with the family. I think of MRB as more of a resource blog with occasional satire thrown in. The Royal Chronicles was an experiment with wordpress and The Kate Middleton Report, I try to keep it updated but recently there's been a lack of good material, especially when you don't see her for a long time.

Razib Ahmed: Do you earn any revenue from your blogs? If so then what areadvertisement programs you use in your blogs?

Marilyn Braun: I've had some success with Amazon. I'm part of two other revenue programs which haven't been as successful.

Razib Ahmed: Has blogging led you to any other writing gigs or any honorablemention in any mainstream media?

Marilyn Braun: Yes, I've appeared on CTV Newsnet, CBC Newsworld, and CBC Radio. It's interesting because one of my dreams was to be a royal commentator and little did I know that I'd get that chance through my blogs! Unfortunately the opportunities are few and far between, which is one of the reasons why I created The Royal Report, to make my own opportunity.

Razib Ahmed: Finally, in this time of economic recession, don’t you think thatthe British royal family is a big burden on the tax payers of UK?

Marilyn Braun: I think I read somewhere that the cost to tax-payers is 69p/year - that's what? the equivalent of a cup of coffee? Regardless of the economic situation I think people will always question the value of the royal family. At times I don't think they set a good example. They may say they're tightening their belts, meanwhile they're going on expensive vacations, taking a gap-year with police protection in tow, and choosing more expensive modes of transportation. Also pagentry is expensive. But royal events, such as royal weddings, are a real bright spot. They raise morale. There are people who want to see a royal wedding between Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton. It may not change anything but it can make you forget your problems, if only for a little while. And it's tough to put a price on that nowadays.

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