Did anyone else think it odd to see Charles and Camilla welcomed and glad-handed in Donegal by the resident republicans living there ? I have no real problem with the royal couple, per se, but isn’t it very strange for a republican of any stripe to hero-worship someone who has been born into a system so alien to the republican mindset? There were filmed sequences of mothers and school-children ecstatic to see a “real” prince and princess strolling through their town on a sunny Spring day; their rapt smiles and and excited faces glowing with excitement. Those interviewed seemed doubly delighted and I began to wonder why , abstractly.I accept that many Irish republicans see Prince Charles as something of an anti-Christ in that he’ll be Commander in Chief of perfidious Albion at some stage and they have fought the idea of “monarchy” and all its outworkings for centuries.That is one perspective.
I actually have no personal axe to grind with Charles or Camilla. Prince Charles has always seemed a personable enough man , albeit a man with a certain awkwardness to him. I grew up seeing him grow up as the public face of the King To Be. He appeared on television seemingly on a weekly basis, every bit a news item as the ongoing Vietnam War, Civil Rights or the terrors in Norneverland. He was never what you’d call a handsome man, for example and yet women threw themselves at him .He would be hugged by bikini-clad beauties on beaches in faraway Australia and generally glommed over as though he was Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt. There was still that gawkiness. His ears stuck out like Bing Crosby and he sported a comb-over hairstyle , like Jackie Charlton, the footballer. He was the kind of man who needed a stylist to bring him into the modern world. A stylist never appeared and no advisor sidled up to recommend a better barber .
He always loved Camilla , even before he was steered and positioned into marrying the wonderful, lissome ,unsulllied and fecund Lady Di ,who later went on to become a latter-day saint. Nobody really thought they were suited at all, of course, and so that relationship eventually broke down. He finally was allowed to marry Camilla and they began to live in the Happy -Ever -After land of the fairytale.During the years ,exposes filtered out about life lived behind the palace gates.There were telephone intimacies revealed which none of us need to know about anyone, even though our natural curiousity revels in these kinds of secrets .It was discovered for example that the King In Waiting had a man-servant specifically to squeeze toothpaste onto the Royal Toothbrush in readyness for Charles to polish the Royal Molars.Many snickered at this new revelation but I thought that this was actually control-freakery on a massive scale. Was he allowed to choose his own toothpaste , I questioned. What kind of man aould allow this kind of intimate intrusion in his everyday life? Would something like this not drive a sane man mad? Did he have a Royal Bottom Wiper like Henry V111, too? I asked myself.If that was the case he was as much a prisoner in his life than the two princes of yore in their tower. So I reasoned that no-one would actually choose to live like this .You’d literally have to be trained for it from birth.Where was the freedom? You’d have to spend your life much as a zoo-animal lives in captivity.
So I turn back to the mothers and their children of Donegal and ask myself what exactly they are cheering about ? Is it that they know they are free, living in a republic instead of a monarchy and are actually congratulating Charles and Camilla for being able to live like trained dolphins, in the public -eye, forever, always unfree?
You have to wonder where the “glamour” is in all of this.