Friday, May 19, 2006


Prince Charles: Is He a Good Thing?

We learn today that Prince Charles has told diminutive Geordies, Ant and Dec, that he is a big fan of Leonard Cohen: 'I mean the orchestration is fantastic, the words and lyrics and everything, he's a remarkable man.' As someone around the same age as myself, I feel I've grown up with Charles. News snippets about him in our daily family newspaper- the News Chronicle and then (the shame) the Daily Mail- abounded; I recall one being that at some public event Charles had asked her for a sweet and that she had given him one(who says she has been a cold, uncaring mother?). I have also been a fan of the groaning Canadian high priest of lovelorn angst since the late sixties so, superficially at least, I have quite a bit in common with the heir to the throne, which has led me to review my feelings towards him.

I remember Charles's first broadcast interview from the palace with Jack De Manio on the Today programme in the mid seventies. His first question won me over: 'Did you manage to find the place alright Mr De Manio?' He seemed to have a passably good wit and an agenda with which I could sympathise: socially concerned, especially about disadvantaged youngsters as well as about the environment. He was a good thing, or so I thought. Then came the Diana saga and the evidence that he carried on an affair throughout without an apparent care. In his defence it has been said-including by himself I understand- that male heirs to the British throne have generally taken lovers, the implication being 'whatever did the silly girl expect?'. I'm far from being a puritan on such matters, but I did begin to find my estimation of him was beginning to sink quite rapidly.

The clinching piece of evidence to me that Charles is in fact silly and insufferable was that, when asked by a friend at a dinner party Charles had thrown, how his guests should address him, he replied 'Oh, just call me "sir"'. A small thing, I know, but one which reveals the character of the man; despite his often painful attempts to demonstrate ordinariness and warmth for his subjects to be, he is constantly consumed by thoughts on his own position and how his superior status should be recognised. I fear that anyone who insists his friends call him 'sir' must be a snob and a fool.

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