Sunday, February 26, 2006


Prince Charles: a rethink considered

Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times today writes a persuasive piece on Charles as someone who: is entitled to express his views, especially as he seems to have so many; does no-one any real harm through such expressions; expresses the views of many people who are mostly ignored by the media; and who provides some must needed gusts of fresh thinking into the incestuous Westminster obsessed political media. He goes on to argue that Britain's unwritten constitution is surely flexible enough to accommodate the views of the heir to an extremely circumscribed constitutional monarchy. Far from shuting up Simon thinks Charles might even increase the dissemination of his opinions.

As so often with Jenkins, one feels he has penetrated to the heart of the issue and made an impeccable, unanswerable judgement. However, I'm a bit worried. If the heir's views are misinterpreted by some foreign state the nation might consequently suffer. I have in mind here the time when he ostentatiously snubbed the visiting President of China because he opposed China's human rights record. Few would support such a record, of course, but international diplomacy often requires some deliberate turning of blind eyes or unsaying of the obvious and maybe morally necessary, just in order for the world to continue in its functioning. Expedience often needs to overule morality. Having such a loose cannon in a representative role is probably unwise, especially given the hypersensitivity of Muslim minorities and Muslim states.

But otherwise I tend to agree with Jenkins. Yet somehow I do not feel any upwelling of support in my breast for the man or observe much elsewhere. Why is this? I think it is because the prince is, not to put too fine a point on it- a bit of a plonker. I refer, not especially, to his penchant for imagining himself to be a tampax or for his clear championing of causes close to the heart of the Conservatives- eg Foxhunting- but more to another aspect of the prince. He is a snob and a not very nice guy. Fulminating about travelling first class says a certain amount about him- his Scandinavian cousins would not have made a peep in the same circumstances. But what gets to me most are the stories regarding social gatherings with his close friends. They, it seems, have to all rise when he enters the room or leaves it and have to address him as, wait for it... 'Sir'. What kind of person treats his closest friends in such a disrespectful fashion? My case rests

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