The other night I was watching on cable TV a meeting of the British Parliament discussing some national issue, and you would have thought from the way they talked that this event was a moment of world significance. Instead of what it really amounted to, equally about the same in importance to a city council meeting of a medium-sized Midwestern American city.
California alone has almost the GNP (Gross National Product) of the island of England. Little England with its powerful-for-the-time Victorian-era navy once ruled three-quarters of the globe, mostly black and tanned-skinned-perceived savages on tiny vulnerable but easily exploitable exotic islands.
Today, when Prince Charles tells the queen he will make a complete motor tour of the Empire, he adds that he'll return to the palace within 20 minutes.
One of the great curiosities of the past 30 years or so is the elegant way the British and in particular the Royal Family continue to act and sound like England is still a world power which it is not and hasn't been for some time. It first became brutally apparent how far England had slipped in influence to Winston Churchill at the Yalta Conference held in the Russian Crimea near the close of World War II. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin ignored Churchill at the conference held to decide the future of the world and treated him like an eccentric relative you keep locked in a closet out of embarrassment because he stammers and slobbers at the mouth.
This must have been agony to poor Churchill, who was old enough to have personally experienced the glory days of the British Empire, to see it all melt away almost overnight.
The English have never gotten over fully their fall from power and the imperialistic colonial rule of the past.
They make statements of seeming world significance and for some reason the world often listens. For example, Prince Charlie said "hospital food should be good (high quality)." First of all, look at the shape of his head. I'm ugly too and I have a bigger nose than he does, but I've never seen a man who looked so much like a duck. I don't know whether to call him Webster Webfoot or Donald.
He one time journeyed to a remote island to raise organic vegetables in a garden wearing a Scottish kilt because he was tired of dealing with adoring masses and living in castles at state expense. He is so insufferably British that his favorite saying to anything or anyone who utters something that he disagrees with is, "How dare you?"
I would give anything to be able to answer him and respond with "It's easy."
The queen, whose skin is so white she practically glows in the dark, has a fuzzy white-haired head and wears crazy hats (at state expense). She often makes world-topping headlines by advising members of her immediate family how to look, for example, lending the attractive Duchess of Cambridge (Kate) her personal dresser for an upcoming tour of Australia so the Aussies don't get the wrong idea, that the Royals are just people like you and me.
By the way, the Royal Palaces are falling apart, the ultimate fixer-uppers. You think your roof needs replacement? Try one that once saw Anne Boleyn rifling through Henry the Eighth's dresser drawers searching for loose jewels. A royally-commissioned study found that the Royal Family was not living within its means and was wasting power and water in the castles the people gave them, while the walls are deteriorating from age. However, that is pretty much what is required of a figurehead, spending other people's money you didn't work for and waiting for someone else to do what is needed.
I would personally like to see the queen in overalls tar-papering the roof of Balmoral.
Prince Harry is unlike his father in that he does a rather good imitation of Beavis and Butt-Head on purpose to gain the kind of headlines he couldn't get from mere boring acts of philanthropy, for example, going to a party in a Nazi uniform, appearing nude at a Las Vegas swim pool party, or drinking champagne out of a plastic "prosthetic" leg.
Success in being a Royal entails an innate ability to appear at least to the public as "Outrageously Acceptable." That means you have a lot of fun titillating the public, for example, Prince Harry appearing at a film premiere with a mysterious blonde. But Harry knows what lines of propriety not to cross, for example, cross-dressing in a bra and panties and posing on the turreted battlements of the castle. I'm not saying any of the Royal guys would do this, I'm only listing something that would be unacceptable to the public.
It's a juggling act.
Or a matter of balance. For instance, to counter-weigh his image as a playboy, Harry served in the military in Iraq even though I believe he was kept far from harm's way and probably housed in a room at the nearest Howard Johnson's Hotel.
Camilla and Charles
Official wedding photo of Camilla and Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948, is the heir apparent and eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay. | Charles, Prince Of Wales, Royalty, Diana, King, Camilla,
Prince Charlie once jumped out of an airplane, so military service has always been a sign of good, noble, royal intent.
In that sense the Royal Family are much like actors enacting a continuing ritual that if England no longer rules the waves of the world, it still rules the recessive fairy tale imagination of our minds. Glittering jewels stolen from impoverished countries, archaic carriages pulled by horses, garish uniforms with bogus medals, and court ceremonies with embossed, gold-plated dinner-service plates, appeal to our sense of envy.
This realm, this England, will continue to continue its act of world significance, because the Brits, the country of Shakespeare, are not only better actors than Americans are, they're so good at acting whatever it is they want to be.
More world-stunning headlines are in the works. Prince Charlie is set to issue an official royal proclamation that sugar beets are best if served with soup. Wait by your TV set for this coming announcement.