Charles, Prince of Wales turns 70

Charles’ shoelaces are pressed flat with an iron every day.

Prince CharlesIt may be softheadedness, particularly since I think the whole idea of monarchy and primogeniture is rather silly. Still, sometimes I feel sorry for Prince Charles.

After all, the only job for which he has been trained to do is to become king. And his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, stubbornly, remains alive and shows no signs of abdicating. He is the oldest and longest-serving heir apparent in British history.

Worse, because of his massive royal wedding to Diana Spencer, which turned into a marriage gone very wrong, almost no one really wants him to be king at all at this point. They favor his eldest son with the late, beloved Diana, William, who had his fairytale wedding of his own with Kate Middleton. William has now fathered three more heirs of his own.

To the degree Charles is tolerated, beyond royal protocol, it’s because Charles appears to have been a good dad to William and Harry. This was especially true after Diana, the fun, sensitive, compassionate one was killed in 1997. The folks in the UK seem even tolerant of Charles’ second wife, Camilla, who he probably should have married in the first place.

Charles represents his mother in many functions, much having to do with the Commonwealth. He also does quite a bit of charitable work, especially regarding education and the environment. He frets about the world of plastics his grandchildren are going to grow up in.

No wonder that being first in line for the British throne may have gone to Prince Charles’ head.

“The Prince of Wales… has reportedly earned a special nickname among the staff at Clarence House: The Pampered Prince. That’s because, according to Amazon Prime’s new documentary ‘Serving the Royals: Inside the Firm,’ Charles needs help doing just about everything.

“‘His pajamas are pressed every morning, his shoelaces are pressed flat with an iron, the bath plug has to be in a certain position and the water temperature has to be just tepid,’ Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, revealed in the documentary…

“This isn’t the first time that Prince Charles’ odd behavior has made headlines. A recently published book by Tom Bowers, ‘Rebel Prince, The Power, Passion, And Defiance Of Prince Charles,’ includes interviews with more than 120 people who share outlandish stories about working for the Royals.

“Apparently, Princess Diana’s ex brings his own toilet seat with him when he travels, changes outfits five times a day, only recently discovered what Saran wrap is and never shows up to a dinner party without his own food.”

Quoting the Simon & Garfunkel, “How terribly strange to be 70.” There was birthday party earlier this year, but today’s the actual natal day.

Royally exhausted

His royal highness Christopher Rupert Vwindemier Vlandamier Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman Gregory James is giving a ball.


My personal nightmare is over, and I won’t have to listen to the incessant stories about George Cambridge, which sounds like the name of a character actor in 1970s films, but in fact is what I’ve dubbed one baby born this past Monday, along with about 350,000 others worldwide.

It’s not that I have a particular antipathy towards the royals as much as I don’t much care. The overload of coverage, though, made me cranky.

I was at my physical therapist’s earlier this week, and NBC’s TODAY show was on TV. The hosts promised a royal-free zone in their vapid What’s Trending segment but did one non-crown story before devolving. Over the previous weekend, with no baby, the news organizations were reduced to reporting on how much time and effort news organizations were spending waiting for George.

Then the baby was born. Lots of even numbers, I noticed. 8 pounds, 6 ounces, 4:24 p.m. on the 22nd of the month. I suppose I, like some others, was hoping for a girl, if only to put that new primogeniture law to the test.

What, no baby name yet?! Wait a day, people! Names of royals always remind me that Diana muffed Charles Philip Arthur George’s name at the wedding, saying Philip Charles. It also brings to mind Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, specifically, “The Prince is Giving a Ball” – LYRICS and LISTEN:
Herald: His royal highness, Christopher Rupert Vwindemier Vlandamier Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman
Boy: HERMAN?
Herald: Herman Gregory James is giving a ball.

The Wife, though, is more interested in the newest heir to the British throne, maybe because she is related. Nine generations ago, back in the 1690s, John Olin married Susannah Spencer, who is an ancestor of Princess Diana. Usually, I zip through the recorded news, but this week, I have to wait for her to watch the royal news, something I might otherwise have zapped through.

I’ve heard less about the desire of skipping over Charles (who’s only been waiting most of his life to become a king; don’t expect HIS mom to abdicate), and to install William, who is, after all, a tired new dad. Also, it seems that the hatred of Camilla has waned in the years since Diana’s death.

Speaking of the royals, about six months after Charles and Diana’s wedding back in 1981, my friend Jessica Lawrence developed a parody skit of that event, a narrative accompanied by a slide show. The pictures were taken at Westminister Presbyterian Church in Albany. The presentation was the Eighth Step Coffee House when it was still located at First Presbyterian Church, and it was hilariously irreverent. That’s Jessica as Diana and me as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The royal connection

My daughter is a princess.


There was this online article about Prince William’s Fargo, North Dakota cousin’s royal celebration. “Kay Johnson wasn’t too upset about being overlooked for Friday’s royal wedding guest list. Besides, she wasn’t the only Spencer to get snubbed.” Unfortunately, the free access post disappeared.

This story is specifically interesting to me because my wife and daughter are likewise related. Seems that late in the 17th century, John Olin married Susannah Spencer, and my wife is a direct descendent, ninth-generation I believe. Susannah Spencer is somehow an ancestor of Diana Spencer, who married Prince Charles, who had two sons, William and Harry.

We didn’t get up early to watch the wedding. But we did turn on the TV c 7 a.m. EDT to see a bit of the post-wedding pageantry, during which time I shared with the daughter her royal connection. Ever since, she has shared the news with all of her friends, has done drawings of herself as a princess, has dressed up as a princess…This too shall pass, eventually.

I met Kay Johnson (pictured) at an Olin family reunion in Binghamton, NY a few years back.

An American Need

Listening to the podcast of Arthur@AmeriNZ recently. He noted that Rachel Maddow of MSNBC apologized to US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for calling him Bernie. Arthur, an American now living in New Zealand was amused/bemused by this apology. In his adopted nation, the prime minister is first among equals, and is referred to by the first name; the same tends to be true in the UK and in other countries that used to be called the British Commonwealth.

So what do they have that the United States doesn’t have?

They have a queen. Queen Elizabeth II, or her representative.

Whereas the United States, the anti-monarchical nation, has a much formal structure for addressing its leaders, “Mr. President,” and the like.

I had to laugh when Michelle Obama, speaking about Hillary, referred to her as “Senator, er, Secretary Clinton — almost said, President Clinton.” Whereas the UK, NZ, Australia use up their formality quotient on royalty.

Like John Oliver, the Senior British Person on the Daily Show noted a couple of weeks back, “the Brits have actual royalty, which is ‘why we can treat our political leaders like the disposable bureaucrats that they are.'”

So it’s obvious: the United States needs royalty.

Seriously, I thought that Ronald Reagan should have been king. For reasons I don’t need to get into, I was not crazy about his politics. At the same time, I recognized the positive impact his optimism had on certain segments of the populace. I decided around 1984 that I did not want him as President, but that he would be great as monarch. He said warm and fuzzy things about “morning in America”; we could feel good about ourselves without him having to have real power that could turn into Iran contra or the like.

So who should be our royal now? I’m not sure. Maybe Queen of All Media Oprah Winfrey. Perhaps a popular Olympiad from the most recent games. Or the mirror ball winner on Dancing with the Stars.

It’d be like king or queen of the prom. We can get all pomp and circumstancy with a royal. Then Rachel Maddow can call senator Sanders Bernie, like, he told her, everyone else does.