Sunday, November 06, 2005

Old slippers and armchairs

Camilla's on this side of the pond for nearly a week and is nervous, apparently. She's nervous that she won't be received very kindly by 'the Americans.'
Why? You might ask.
Well, there's a lot riding on her shoulders, and please indulge me in my use of equestrian imagary. The sad state of the British monarchy is such today that, first, the royal minders deem it necessary for Charles (in his new man-of-the-people accent) to make obsequious speeches praising the American president as being of vital influence and necessity in the world in order to pay for the White House dinner thrown in his honor and, second, they also desperately need 'the Americans' to show their enthusiastic admiration for the couple so they can do some American-esque spin in order to boost Charles and Camilla's acceptance at home. Very sad. Tragic, actually...the tragedy exacerbated when one considers how terribly proud the monarchy once was, how its imperiousness and aloofness preserved the cachet. How they'd love to get back to those days of splendid aloofness, to the days of blue-bloods and a grateful peasantry who, on official occasions, could be counted on to trek from their council houses throughout the kingdom to stand outside Buckingham Palace in their hundreds and hundreds of thousands with painted red, white and blue faces and Union Jack cloaks, all chattering and squealing 'God Save the Queen' and 'We love you, Ma'am' Some, a hundred thousand or so, will still do it today.

Unfortunately, for both the mandarins and royalty junkies, it seems fully 81% of the American public are disinterested--though early mandarin spin is that a turnaround will result after the royal couples jaunt to see the devestation in New Orleans. And the American press might also help boost ratings with their fixation about Camilla having to walk four paces behind Charles that's got nothing to do with 'barefoot and pregnant' sexism, but rather a quirky royal protocol based on the ancient premise that all attention must focus on the senior royal. (At this point I will say that I'm perplexed as to why Larry King finds it necessary to haul people of the caliber of Joan Rivers on to his show to talk about the couple. Is it because she did a few seasons of comedy at some London theater a few years ago that now makes her the American expert on all things royal and all things Brit? Or is it possible she saw an opportunity and bulldozed her way onto the show? I've never understood the woman's loud, tawdry spiels, if indeed they can even be classified as some form of mediocre humor, so I guess I'm biased.

Regarding Camilla, I do wish the media would get over being unkind to the woman regarding her appearance and demeanor. It's been milked, so move on for Christssake. I'm actually warming a little toward the old gal. Lurking behind those flying saucer-wide hats favored by older royals is a woman supposedly possessed of a great sense of humor. And I do like people with a bit of living etched on their faces and who can crack a joke.

She's also an English Catholic by birth and, as I'm an Irish one and our childhoods were thus most likely similarly marred, maybe I should feel some sort of automatic liking for that reason alone. I'd also imagine we share a commonality in not running like the bejasus to the confessional every time we might have sinned, nor is there too much danger that we might bulldoze any member of our local RC congregations in order to get the best pew at Sunday morning mass. (In any event, I think she's probably converted to Anglicanism now--low church, by the way.)

I certainly won't like her for the reasons I'm told to like her by some plummy-mouthed, moldy English men and women who're their friends and will say anything to be allowed to retain the best seats at Highgrove House dinner parties. The royal mandarins dragged these people from their country houses and dried and dusted them off to appear on American TV to say that "the Americans" should like Camilla because "she's like an old pair of slippers or one's comfortable armchair, really." I'm not joking. Royalty is now sold to the American masses by comparing them to old slippers and comfortable armchairs. That's what I heard a Brit author with flat, matted silver hair, which she wore in a style highly reminiscent of Susie Quattro in the seventies, state without the slightest whiff of irony the other night.

So America, know that representatives of the British upper-middle class are counting on you to love a pair of old slippers or two comfortable armchairs.


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2 comments:

Daphnewood said...

it is really hard for Americans to understand royalty. Well, at least it is hard for this American to understand. From the time we start school we are taught kings are bad. Kings try to keep freedom away from us. Kings are merely members of the "lucky sperm club". However, I have grown up a bit and realize the complexity of the title. And the more I learn the less I understand. But don't worry, I certainly don't look to Larry King and Joan Rivers to educate me on such matters.

Damian McNicholl said...

Glad to hear it, daphnewood ;)