The current incarnation of royalty who reside at Buckingham Palace are a loathsome example of giving people who don’t deserve it a lot of money and nothing much to do. Charles is a perfect example of this. The poor sot has nothing whatsoever to do except sit around and wait for mummy to die. He’s tried his hand as cultural critic, railing against modern British architecture (it is horrid but his idea of good architecture isn’t much better). He tried jumping on the global warming bandwagon but didn’t attract much notice. There were so many other more interesting people like Sting and Posh Spice who beat him to it.
Then there is his weird flirtation with alternative medicines. His “Foundation for Integrated Health” published some guides for general practitioners on how to combine traditional (scientific) medicine with alternative (witchcraft) medicine. A prominent member of the “complementary” medical community wrote a letter to the Times asking that the guides be recalled, saying “the majority of alternative therapies appear to be clinically ineffective, and many are downright dangerous.”
His very public, very naughty affair with Camilla Parker Bowles destroyed his marriage and drove his wife to suicidal thoughts. This is the sum total of the life of Charles, Prince of Wales, for which he receives not only taxpayer subsidies, but the free use of several castles, palaces, retreats, cabins, and a retinue of servants of which the Empress Dowager would be envious.
His son William — the one getting married — doesn’t appear to be a bad sort. He passed flight school and became a helicopter pilot in a search and rescue outfit. He has various charitable causes which he supports by exposing his person to the media so they can take his picture with AIDS patients, inner city youth, and endangered elephants.
But is this really all that praiseworthy? One could make the argument that by being a human photo-op, William — and his mother before him — deflected attention from where the real applause should have been directed: the workers, volunteers, and dedicated professionals who spend their lives helping others or protecting the environment. If it was as easy as simply dropping by an AIDS hospice and allowing photographers to click away, everybody would do it. It is an open question how much is actually accomplished by such drive by good deeds — especially when you consider that the royals aren’t really giving up anything to do it. These are the make-work jobs that they use to justify their existence.
Americans are probably attracted to this train wreck of a family because of some lost notion of noblesse oblige coupled with a very modern thirst for dirt on the rich and famous. The latter we can understand. But the very idea of “nobility” is anachronistic. We’ve outgrown such childish things. The fairy tales about growing up and marrying royalty or becoming a noble knight may have been pleasant reveries but they were never meant to last into adulthood.
And yet two billion people worldwide — a good number of those Americans — will watch this gargantuan media event on TV or the internet. CNN is sending 400 people to cover it (they have 50 covering the Japan disaster). All the female-oriented networks like WE, Oxygen, Oprah, and others are loading up with special programming. Billions in ad revenue, tens of millions of eyeballs, thousands of hours of TV specials and exclusives — all to cover the wedding of two rather ordinary looking young people who quite simply don’t deserve the attention. I’m sure they are both perfectly charming, but considering the fuss, they’d have to exceed the exploits of the Most Interesting Man in the World in order to merit this media overkill.
For those who are so enamored of this spectacle that they don’t think they can resist watching, I give you Sam Adams at his snarky best:
If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.