We Have A Future King

25 Jul

I was in London when Kate Middleton (formally the Duchess of Cambridge) finally gave birth to a son. According to some of the newspapers, the birth of a heir to the throne gave Britain a morale boost … but I found myself greeting the event with decidedly mixed feelings. I’m happy for William and Kate, yet …

I was still mulling over my feelings when we went to the national portrait gallery in Trafalgar Square. There, we saw the portrait of Kate Middleton by Paul Emsley. It is a terrible portrait; I looked at it and saw a woman already worn down by life’s experiences. She looked to be around 40-50, instead of 31. (Thankfully, photographs of Kate don’t look so ghastly.) But looking at the portrait helped my thoughts to crystallise.

Living in the Royal Family these days is akin to living in a goldfish bowl, only worse. There have been endless unacceptable intrusions on their privacy by reporters and photographers – Kate was photographed topless only a few months ago, which would have hardly been noteworthy if she hadn’t been the Duchess of Cambridge and Britain’s future queen – and this risks tearing apart their lives. Prince Harry’s antics in Vegas would never have made the news if he hadn’t been royalty – and his childish stunt of wearing a Nazi uniform wouldn’t have been noticed either. Honestly! Can’t they give them a break?

Of course not. The Royal Family is newsworthy.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for politicians and celebrities who push themselves into the public eye, feeding the media frenzy, and then end up bitten and burnt. I have a great deal of sympathy for people who get caught up on the receiving end of a media frenzy and see their lives ripped apart, without wanting to be in the public eye. And that is precisely what is going to happen to the Royal Baby.

Diana was hounded by the media from the day she become part of the Royal Family until the day she died. Her life was ruthlessly scrutinised by the media. Whatever she did always tended to rebound to her disadvantage. Her heath was badly damaged by the constant pressure. Charles, too, has been warped by endless training for a position he may never hold. Indeed, Charles and Diana were a very unsuited couple who may well have been pushed together by their families. Charles and Camilla seem to be a far more suitable couple. Under the circumstances, I am surprised that William and Harry came out as well as they did.

Charles isn’t the only one who will have to wait. He’s 64; by the time William takes the Throne, he may well be 60 himself or older (he’s currently 30). Prince George may find himself forced to spend his life searching for something meaningful to do, while ducking the endless hordes of media vultures who will consider his slightest act newsworthy. Who would want that sort of life?

I am not a monarchist, frankly, and I see little value in treating the lives of the Royal Family as a British Soap Opera. I’m happy for Kate and William …

… But I can’t help feeling sympathy too.

2 Responses to “We Have A Future King”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard July 25, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    I’m far from a monarchist as well (being an American) but I also feel sorry for the British royals. For one thing, they get all this attention and don’t have any real power in your government. It would be a different matter if the “price” they paid for their political power was all the media attention. [Sad Smile]

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