Generally, I am the last person to advocate modesty, sobriety or duty. But then, I have been supporting myself financially, with no assistance from any other source – spouse or State or taxpayer – since I was seventeen years old, and am free to do as I please. The same, sadly, cannot be said of Prince William, who swerved this year’s Commonwealth Day service in favour of dad-dancing, Jägerbombing and high-fiving party-girls on a four-day jolly with his mates in Verbier. And this after spending a surprisingly modest thirteen days performing his official duties this year.
It’s no secret that I was one of the late Princess of Wales’ most rabid cheerleaders so naturally I was favourably inclined towards the poor bereaved Diana-faced boy. Looking back on what I wrote at the time of the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, I find it fair: ‘They seem genuinely to be mates in that particularly British way young lovers often are here, and which other nationalities just don’t get, which no one could have said about the prince’s parents.’ But I also said ‘Let us hope for Miss Middleton’s sake that her Prince has more of his mother than his father in him.’ And I’m beginning to believe that he doesn’t.
I adored Diana for many reasons – her big eyes, her kindness, her shameless way of invading her own privacy – but mostly because she was the greatest force for republicanism since Oliver Cromwell. She left the Windsors – ‘those effing Germans’, as she sometimes swore when irked – with one big ticking gift-wrapped timebomb of a farewell present: the fact that, for the first time, more subjects of the House of Windsor were against it than for it. The Firm (cringe!) have managed to turn the situation around over the two decades since her death and have their subjects back on side now. But because monarchy-worship is based on feeling rather than fact, public opinion can just as easily turn again.
It would be a strong stomach indeed which could countenance the crowning of the Prince of Wales – a third-rate mind with delusions of adequacy and a veritable human jukebox of cliches – without heaving. This is the man, remember, whose dedication to his people is so selfless that he once said ‘If the Labour government ever gets around to banning foxhunting, I might as well leave this country and spend the rest of my life skiing’. Still, we could always comfort ourselves with the fact that, with Charles approaching 70, the crown might skip a generation and go straight to Diana’s boy – the boy who is now approaching middle age, and who just two years ago gave an apparently heartfelt speech on the illegal killing of wild animals just days after he had just returned from a deer-shooting jaunt in Spain. Remind you of anyone?
Prince William is now approaching this tipping point with reference to his mother’s tragic death; his father has been a busted flush for a long time. I personally believe that when Elizabeth II dies the monarchy will be incapable of keeping calm, carrying on or – that old stand-by of the clapped-out – re-inventing itself; in essence, it will die with the Queen, whose extraordinary example has spoiled us for the usual parade of crazies, lazies and lackadaisies who generally pass as those Born To Rule. Some will sob, some will rage, but for republicans like me the death throes of the House of Windsor will be the best show in town. Praise the Lord and pass the Duchy Originals Organic Popcorn!