Radio 4 did a nice little segment on Prince Charles the other day. He does some very peculiar things, you see. He’s been sending little letters to high-ranking ministers in this government and the previous one, pushing his pet projects. You know the sort of very peculiar things he’s interested in: complementary medicine, GM foods and that sort of thing.
You might be wondering what “complementary” medicine is. I did. It turns out that the term is a euphemism of a euphemism: Once it was established that ‘alternative medicine’ was opposed to ‘effective’ medicine, it because necessary to come up with another label. Alternative medicine is medicine that doesn’t work: Homeopathy, etc. There is one circumstance, however, where medicine-that-doesn’t-work can be made to work: when it is taken in conjunction with medicine that works. And thusly the new term was arrived at.
We in Britain are quite weird when it comes to the monarchy. Reason tells us that that democracy is preferable to autocracy, but we still feel the need to preserve some faux-dictatorial presence at the top of the pile, for some Freudian reason.
And so a compromise had to be made between these two needs, and this compromise takes the form of the constitutional monarchy currently in place. They don’t have any real power, but they do have some role in ceremonies and what-have-you. Like the way that porn stars variously pretend to be doctors, electricians, zookeepers and what have you: you know they can’t really perform any of the tasks that their attire would suggest, but you suspend your disbelief because you consider the idea that they could oddly gratifying.
Prince Charles meddling in Westminster is a lot like turning up for a colonoscopy to discover Sasha Grey will be the surgeon, citing her many appearances as a medical doctor as ample proof of her suitability for the task of performing invasive surgery on your colon. We should probably be concerned about this development. It is troublesome.
The Guardian has long been fighting for the release of Charle’s letters under the Freedom of Information Act, and the Supreme Court has determined that their release would be entirely legal. The Conservative Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, has prevented this from happening on the grounds that it would be ‘seriously damaging to his role as future monarch’. This is as close as you could get to an admission that the letters contain such preposterous bollocks that their publication would cause the monarchy to crumble. I am quite keen that they be published, if only out of a sense of grim curiosity.
Perhaps he shouldn’t be the future monarch then, Dominic. Or maybe we shouldn’t have a monarch at all. Perhaps we should decide who should be king by means of some form of election? But then I suppose that would remove the whole point of a monarchy. Isn’t God supposed to decide who the next king will be? Isn’t that what ‘Divine Right’ means? I think, therefore, we should determine the next monarch by means of the National Lottery. It would go just beneath the millionaire raffle section. If Charles does have a Divine Right, he would obviously win. I’d stop arguing, then. I’d take it all back. As an added bonus, this scheme would create some measure of social mobility:
“You’ve won five pounds forty. And you’re also King of England!”
The problem with this issue is that when you ask people ‘do you support the monarchy?’ they really hear ‘do you support the Queen?’ And most people support the Queen. She understands that what’s required of her, chiefly: discretion. Charles’ current occupation, on the other hand, seems to be that of an exceptionally well-financed crank. This is why I suspect that the monarchy will suffer a slump in support when we finally all have to acknowledge that Charles is our King. It becomes a great deal harder to defend an institution when its head is self-evidently a blithering idiot.
John Major spoke up in support of Prince Charles:
‘I think it is encouraging that the Prince of Wales is entirely free from his unique perspective to write to ministers or the prime minister in a way that is invariably intended to be helpful, and I think to cut that off, or to make sure those letters are much more bland than they otherwise might be, would be a loss.’
Empahsis mine. A couple of points, here. The first regards his intentions. I don’t doubt that he intends to be helpful. But there’s a difference between intending to be helpful and actually being helpful. I rarely intend to be dashing, witty or achingly suave, but it often happens that I’m all three at once by purest accident. Such is laugh.
The second is regards the things he intends to be helpful toward. They are often very silly indeed. Most people wouldn’t agree with anything he says on anything, which is a pretty major concern when he’s involving himself so thoroughly on public policy. I rather wish HRH would STFU. The first politician to publically do so shall enjoy the unreserved support of this blog.
Anyway, that’s enough rambling for this week. Until the next, I bid you all adieu.