HomeArticles Stories Essays & MoreThe Duchesses and the curtsy question

The Duchesses and the curtsy question

Someone sent me a link to the video below. The title of the video is “Should Sophie Duchess of Edinburg Still curtsy to Meghan Duchess of Sussex”. If you’re only here for commentary on the title topic, watch the video. (Featured image created using AI art generation tool)

It is said that the curtsy is just a sign of respect. Here, for example is an AI generated response to a question about the point and purpose of bowing or curtsying to a member of the royal family.

The concept of bowing and curtsying before a queen or monarch is generally considered a traditional sign of respect and deference to the institution of the monarchy, rather than to the individual monarch themselves. It is often seen as a symbolic gesture of loyalty and recognition of the monarch’s role as the head of state and representative of the country.  Bowing or curtsying before a monarch is a culturally established tradition that is meant to show respect for the institution of the monarchy(via openai.com)

Define Curtsy...

OpenAI defines a curtsy as a formal gesture of respect or acknowledgement, typically performed by a woman or girl, in which she bends her knees and lowers her body by briefly bending at the waist. The hands may be held together in front of the body or at the sides, and the head may be bowed slightly. Curtsying is often used as a sign of respect or deference to a person of higher social status, such as a monarch, a member of the nobility, or a superior officer. It can also be used in certain formal settings, such as at a wedding or a formal dance, as a polite way to acknowledge a partner or a guest of honor.

Would you curtsy to show respect and deference to a person of a higher social rank?

When I was a teenager I used to get royally upset at any suggestion that I would have to curtsy to the Queen of England (she was of course alive at the time). I would declare that I would rather be imprisoned or beheaded if a beheading would be the punishment for my refusal (**this does not mean I thought they would imprison me or behead me if I didn’t curtsy. It was just an exaggerated and descriptive way of expressing my stance). Of course, given the choice between getting my head cut off or curtsying to the queen in order to keep my life, I’d probably have curtsied. But if the only consequence for not curtsying was having people write articles about the crass little nobody from nowhere who thought she was too good to curtsy to the Queen, then I would have borne the burden of being shamed for my temerity in refusing to follow protocol.

At the time I did not know I would not even have needed to worry, because I would not have been required to curtsy. I have since come to understand that the curtsy is supposed to be a sign of respect and loyalty to the institution of the monarchy expected to be shown by subjects of Institution. It was not so much an act of kowtowing to the Queen or other royal, though, in my opinion, that is the result of the execution of the act. And it’s not expected of individuals who are not British. At least that’s what I read. According to the response I received questioning OpenAI chat on whether Americans would be expected to curtsy:

Americans are free to greet members of the royal family in a way that is comfortable and appropriate for them. It is generally expected that Americans show respect and courtesy when meeting members of the royal family, but this can be done in different ways, such as a handshake or a polite greeting.

As a young girl, I grew up on an island that was part of the British commonwealth, so, at that time, I would probably have been expected to curtsy had there been occasion for me to stand before the Queen or another member of the royal family. And I’d have probably done so with much gusto, trying to be as dramatically graceful and elegant and “extra” as I could manage–no doubt ending up looking comically and embarrassingly asinine. But then I moved to America and I became a teenager and my mind expanded in a different direction from the training of my childhood.

Since my teenage years I’ve been of the opinion that the idea of a “royal” family as a group of people who hold a position in society that entitles them to be shown higher courtesy and respect because of a title they acquire at birth is counter to the concept of human equalness. I don’t think anything will change this point of view, but I realize it’s not a point of view shared by many people–at least is doesn’t seem to be. Many people that I love and respect hold the royal family in high regard. Not necessarily the British Monarchy as an institution but the royal family specifically. It seems like most of the world accept the idea of royalty and all the pomp and circumstance that comes with it.

But my personal opinion isn’t necessarily baseless or uninformed. At least, when I posed another question to OpenAI chat asking about it, I received a response that gave me a bit more confidence that there’s a basis for my point of view.

Is the concept of royalty counter to the concept of human equalness?

The concept of royalty is based on the idea that certain individuals are born into a position of power and privilege, simply because of their ancestry. This is often in the form of a monarchy, where a king or queen is the head of state and holds a significant amount of political and social power.

The concept of human equalness, on the other hand, is based on the idea that all human beings are inherently equal and should be treated with equal respect and dignity. This means that no one should be discriminated against or given preferential treatment based on their social status, wealth, race, gender, or any other factor.

From this perspective, the concept of royalty can be seen as counter to the concept of human equalness. In a monarchy, the royal family has special privileges and powers that are not available to ordinary citizens, simply because of their birth. This can create a hierarchy that reinforces social inequality and undermines the principle of equal treatment for all.

However, it’s worth noting that not all monarchies operate in the same way, and some have evolved to become more democratic and egalitarian. In these cases, the monarch may have largely ceremonial duties and their power may be limited by a constitution or other legal framework. In such cases, the concept of royalty may not be seen as counter to the concept of human equalness, but rather as a symbol of national identity and tradition. (via openai.com)

Some people will say that the fault lies in the idea of human equalness. Not everybody believes humans are equal. Some people believe in human equalness only as it relates to their own situations and interests. Someone could argue for their right to be considered equal to one group while still being willing to grant superiority to another group. In other words, it’s possible to believe that humans aren’t equal as it relates to yourself and the royal family while arguing for your equal rights as it relates to you and some other group that you’re unwilling to grant power over you. So I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of answer OpenAi chat would return if asked are humans equal.

Are humans equal?

The question of whether humans are equal is a complex and controversial one. On the one hand, there are certain aspects of human beings that are fundamentally equal. For example, all humans have the same basic physical and biological needs, such as the need for food, water, and shelter, and all humans have the same inherent worth and dignity as members of the human species.

At the same time, there are many ways in which humans are not equal. For example, humans differ in terms of their physical and mental abilities, their cultural backgrounds, their socio-economic status, their access to resources and opportunities, and many other factors.

Moreover, the concept of equality itself is subject to interpretation and debate. There are different kinds of equality, such as formal equality (treating everyone the same under the law), substantive equality (addressing underlying social and economic inequalities), and relational equality (recognizing and valuing diversity and difference).

In general, it is fair to say that while humans may not be equal in every respect, there are certain fundamental principles of equality that are important to uphold, such as equal respect and dignity for all human beings, and equal treatment under the law. At the same time, it is important to recognize and address the ways in which inequality and discrimination can arise and perpetuate themselves in society. (via openai.com)

I find this to be an extremely interesting answer. I would love to delve into this more extensively, not necessarily with my own thoughts since my opinions are unqualified. It would be fascinating to be able to organize a discussion around this topic. The OpenAi response, in my opinion, is a dangerous place to leave the answer to this particular question. But I will leave it there for now.

Avenue Sixty Writing Staff
Avenue Sixty Writing Staffhttp://avenuesixty.com
Hello, I'm Adela Lewis aka singer songwriter Adelamonica. I am the founder of avenuesixty.com. Aside from singing and songwriting, I enjoy writing in general, modeling, dancing and doing things that bring some little joy to my experience of living. I am also an active freelance web developer, graphics designer and (once prolific but now on hiatus) web applications developer.

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