Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ohmygosh, it's a "rebirth for Britain"! (In which DWT takes official note of the historic Royal Development)


Caution before clicking: Do you really want to look at Prince William? (Gosh, he used to be so beautiful, before he started looking more and more like his father. Now he makes his depressing brother Harry look almost human. Hmm, I suppose these are just the sorts of comment that would horrify my English relations, as explained below.) On the plus side (work with me here -- I'm scrounging), if you click through, you get to watch a free commercial!

"Prince William's engagement a rebirth for Britain"
-- a headline today on

by Ken

A rebirth of Britain, eh? So the slash-and-burn "austerity" crusade is already showing results?

Oh, no, it's apparently not that kind of rebirth. It's more along the lines of what the British government can do for its subjects without actually doing anything for them -- unless you count sucking generous quantities of pounds out of the treasury for this great public event.

What follows about the Royal Announcement was written before I set eyes on the above headline, which I encountered only when I went searching for visual adornment for this post. In other words, at a time when I could have been writing about, say, Elizabeth Kolbert's incredibly depressing "Comment" piece in the new (Nov. 22) New Yorker, "Uncomfortable Climate," about the criminally ignorant "F*@k Science" mentality of the Teabagger-blessed band of can-do sociopaths who'll be in charge of the U.S. House of Representatives come January, I undertook to write about the feather-light subject of the Royal Engagement, in full awareness that it's about as shamelessly trivial a story as I could be taking on. Apparently I was wrong!

At this point I'm afraid all I can do is wonder what my mother would have made of Princess-to-be (and, presumably, Queen-to-be) What's-Her-Name. Oh, I'll learn her name eventually, but you know who I mean. The New Diana.

Come to think of it, I don't rightly know what my mother made of the old Diana. It's not something we talked about much, and I never really understood the thing she had for British royalty.

The closest I can figure is that we do have English cousins. My stepfather's Austrian family mostly dispersed in the first several decades of the 20th century to various points outside the German-speaking world. (The undispersed became, of course, the disappeared.) The English branch, if I remember right, found its way to London by way of Ireland.

And to illustrate the, er, unconventionality of my mother's royalism, I offer this story, which I don't doubt I've offered before. I think you'll see why it's one of my favorite stories.

My folks were visiting the cousins, which they loved to do. In fact, when my stepfather's Alzheimer's was still in its milder stages, they were planning a trip to London for an especially joyous event: the wedding of the daughter of the house they'd watched growing up. (Time took care of that plan. By the time of the wedding it was no longer possible for him to travel. My mother, sadly, made the trip alone, having with some difficulty asked if I would come down to Florida to stay with my stepfather. It was an educational experience -- horrible, but educational. I got a small glimpse of what her life was like in the years of his decline.)

Now the cousins, you should understand, are not just lovely people, but sensitive and well-educated ones too. (Both father and daughter were lawyers.) So, anyway, my folks were watching the telly in the cousins' house, and there on-screen was (a much younger) Prince Charles. My mother ventured, as she recounted it, "Wouldn't you think, with all their money, they could do something about his ears?" She did a pretty good job of conveying the shock and horror with which this innocent question was greeted.

Among the clutch of magazine subscriptions I had to tend to when I relieved my mother of the burden of dealing with her own finances was one to a magazine I had never heard of called Royalty. It was, and perhaps still is, a magazine devoted solely to chronicling the British royal family. [This is apparently incorrect. See the PPPS below.] My mother was possibly more devoted to it than it was to its readers; I recall some hiatusing owing to straitened finances during the years I watched over that subscription.

I have to say, the magazine came in handy. In the senior residence to which my mother moved, living on the modest proceeds from the sale of her apartment when, at 83, after living on her own for a decade (six-plus of those years following a cerebral hemorrhage) and deciding she'd cooked enough meals, the social director was an ex-pat Brit. She turned her copies of Royalty over to him when she was done with them, which scored her big-time points.

Wait, Catherine! That's here name, isn't it? The New Diana? I remember because I read . . . Oh goodness, I have to admit that I actually clicked through to the link on AOL yesterday and skimmed a piece on the subject. Anyway, I remember reading that, assuming the royal succession eventually eventuates the way it's mapped out (and it's always dangerous to assume; after all, Prince Charles didn't expect to spend all these decades cooling his heels waiting for his accession), she will/would be Queen Catherine, which gave me a jolt, because I realized I'd never actually registered her name. Kate, I guess it is. (Judging by her résumé since leaving school, I'm thinking she may have gone for career counseling and been counseled that off her work experience to date, she might be best suited to snagging the heir apparent to something or other.)

All seriousness aside, I wish the happy couple the best of luck. Given the bridegroom's family's track record in matters of the, er, heart, they'll need all the luck they can garner.


A key point in the buzzy rebirth of Britain is that our Kate, as a commoner, is an unprecedented match for Young Will. I suppose it's just the way my mind works, but as some of you are aware, I recently completed a grand tour through all eight of Armistead Maupin's sublime Tales of the City books, and so inevitably I'm flashing back to the opening of the fourth book, Babycakes, where the author imagines some of the private life of Prince William's grammy on the occasion of her 1984 royal visit to San Francisco, which is enmeshed in the plot with the author's customary impudence and ingenuity. And, allowing for the outsize aura of entitlement that I supposes comes with, you know, the title, people don't come much commoner than the queen portrayed there.


Just because, as noted above, I wasn't up to writing about Elizabeth Kolbert's depressing New Yorker "Comment" piece on the marauding anti-science mentality of the new Republican House majority doesn't mean you couldn't read it if you want to. (Here's the link again.) Note that there's an online "Ask the Author Live" chat with Kolbert scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 18, at 3pm ET.


And apparently I'm wrong in thinking that its subject matter is limited to British royalty. Crown Princess Victoria (born 1977), after all, is Swedish. I guess the admirers of royalty can't afford to cast their net so narrowly. I apologize for the erroneous information above. Pretty much the extent of my involvement with the magazine was mailing in the renewal forms with the checks.

Victoria's royal wedding, I see, took place in June. I seem to have missed the event entirely. I suppose I should at least have sent a card.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home