NR Digital

The Bent Pin

Tragedy of the Commons

by Florence King

Nothing is more American than a humble cachet. Up to now we have owned the boast about being the first person in one’s family to go to college, but we just got sideswiped by England. In a seizure of grand mal democracy that we can never match, it was announced that Prince William is to wed commoner-than-thou Miss Kate Middleton, which will make her the first person in her family to become Queen of England.

As usual, Americans were threatened by the word “commoner” but it simply means someone without royal blood, or someone who is not a peer — i.e., a duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron. It does not mean someone without a title. Plenty of commoners have titles: The late Queen Mum was born Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, daughter of the Earl of Strathmore, but she was still a commoner; so was Lady Diana Spencer, another earl’s daughter, because children of peers are all commoners. But we have a mental block against the word, so the media got tangled up in confusing explanations.

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