Thursday, February 23, 2006

Royal Blues

Prince Charles and I are both baby-boomers* and reaching that stage of life at which we might be expected to start thinking that some people may be expecting us to feel as though we should be acting as though we realise that we're getting closer to reaching an age at which people may be starting to think that perhaps we're getting fairly close to being not all that far away from approaching our middle age**.

So you might expect me to be a bit sympathetic towards him especially as we both live in Gloucestershire (me rather more often than he). But I'm not really although I do feel sorry for him because of the accident of birth that means his life must be lived to a large extent in the public domain. But he doesn't seem to have made any attempt at an imaginative leap to find out what life is like for people outside his class.

He is, of course, not alone in this failure of the imagination but he has had more time and opportunity than most people get. Perhaps his mind isn't up to it. Without attracting well-deserved ridicule, I could never claim to have a first class mind*** but even with my feeble powers and the good imagination I've been blessed with I have made something of an effort to see the world through the eyes of people in very different circumstances to my own.

Even though he's met millions of people, the Prince of Wales seems largely to spout the views and prejudices only of his own class. He's like a person who says everyone he's spoken to agrees with him but who fails to acknowledge (even to himself) that he's spoken only (for examples) to his golf club chums or his fellow SWP activists. His much quoted comment about having to endure the discomfort of a Club Class airline seat will not have won him many new friends. Perhaps he's been badly advised; his current court case has the potential to become an Oscar Wilde-like nightmare for him .

The British papers are enjoying it especially as it involves one of their own - the Mail on Sunday. The Independent thinks that "the High Court action ... now appears to have rebounded badly on the Prince.". The Guardian's leader writer has made an amazing discovery: "Prince Charles's concerns are both small c and big C conservative. The Prince of Wales, in short, is a Tory." and concludes: "The influence of the prince has increased, is increasing - and ought to be diminished. If the prince does not act himself then, now as then, parliament may have to do so.".

But another old fashioned Tory rides to the rescue. Writing in the Telegraph, Boris Johnson is outraged because "it turns out that the Mail has illicitly obtained his private diaries, his private diaries, and has splashed them over several pages" - so outraged he wrote it twice. He reminds us that the Prince "is a 57-year-old landowner with a not particularly good degree in anthropology who talks to flowers and wants to be reincarnated as a piece of feminine sanitary equipment." Boris urges him to "keep firing off those green ink letters to ministers" and declares that "the Prince's actions are completely harmless, and sometimes useful." before asking "Can I have my knighthood now?"

Where will it all end?

* Joe Queenan, who has set himself up as something of a (critical) authority on this matter, defines bbs as anyone born in 'the West' between about 1943 and 1964 - so there's lots of us.
** middle age used to begin in Britain at 34 but that was when life expectancy was only 65. Now it begins around 65 so no baby boomer has yet reached it although many Tory politicians and their supporters were, of course, born middle aged.
*** My favourite Rupert Murdoch anecdote concerns a meeting he is alleged to have had with a former editor of the Times. This possibly double-barrelled old chap told the Aussie Magnate that he'd met many British Prime Ministers but that none of them had had, in his opinion, a first class mind. The Wealthy Antipodean bloke is reported by some as having advised his employee that some of the Prime Ministers probably though that he was a bit of a $$$$ as well. One joy of growing older is the realisation that different people's minds operate in quite different ways and at vastly different speeds. One joy of the internet is that it enables us to read all sorts of opinions from all sorts of newspapers without having to purchase the wretched things. It's always wise to recall that about ten times as many people read the Daily Mail as read the Guardian.....


At 13:27, Anonymous Jenni said...

I'm with Boris Johnson on this one. It is very wrong to read the diary of someone who is alive and minds, and even wrongerer to share it with everyone you meet, whoever that person happens to be.

At 20:56, Blogger Bob Piper said...

"I do feel sorry for him because of the accident of birth that means his life must be lived to a large extent in the public domain."

He doesn't have to. He could have got a proper job thirt years ago and nobody would care a toss about him now. Of course, he would have to give up all of his wealth and priviledge, hand Cornwall back to its people, and not be surprised when his letters to Ministers go completely ignored. Small price to pay, eh?

At 07:28, Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

Also with Boris.

Conservatism isn't what it used to be. Two major conservative thinker guru type fellows are younger than I am these days, Goldsmith and Norberg. It's come to a pretty pass when the Tories' thinkers are younger than yourself. Does this mean (gasp) that at 35 I'm middle aged?

I'm going to go with chronology. Life expectancy is 90. I've got another 10 years then.

At 10:51, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Jenni & Auntie M - It'll be interesting (well not really) to see what the learnéd judge decides. After all the PoW did apparently send it to his chums as though it were his Xmas newsletter so it perhaps wasn't really a 'private' diary. The point of my post was really to question the wisdom of opening up the affair by going to court.....


I doubt if the Great British Press would have left him alone even if he had stepped down. I don't feel very sorry for him but I don't envy his life which is inevitably in the public eye. Politicians and media stars have at least chosen to court publicity....

At 14:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which of Charles' ideas are so crazy:

1) We should work better to preserve the environment.

2) The politicians and bureaucrats of Communist China are unpleasant people.



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