Why I hate The Royals, even if I somewhat like them
I realize that Sunday is supposed to be your Fun Day. Your you-don’t-have-to-run-day, as the poets say. So I hate to be the fly in your brunch Bloody Mary, if you’re the sort of reprobate who enjoys boozy, decadent brunches on Sunday, instead of being in church, where you belong. But I’m in a petulant snit.
For I had to miss King Charles’s coronation yesterday, after a lifetime of waiting (not me - him waiting, I mean, for his mother to die), in order to attend my oldest son’s college graduation. Yes, my son’s mother, aka my wife, and I can now swap out a life of incurring pricey new tuition bills in order to look forward to paying off pricey old tuition bills, with interest, in the form of college loans that will likely burden us to our sunset years, thanks to the moronic hyper-inflationary hustle known as higher learning that we all subscribe to so that our children can merely get to the starting line to gain an entry-level job. All this, as our son packed up his dorm and moved home to live out his young adulthood in his childhood room like a dutiful Zoomer. (Only kidding, Luke. I hope.)
But while otherwise occupied yesterday, I understand I missed Great Britain’s gift to the world (royal family dysfunction overdressed as pointless pageantry). Which itself was overshadowed by America’s gift to the world - yet another mass shooting. This one, at a mall in Allen, Texas, complete with the requisite dopey congressman offering thoughts and prayers, presumably to the Jehovah of the Bible, always a convenient break from worshipping their two true gods: AR-15 manufacturers and the gun lobby. (Even God has to be saying by now: “Sheezus, just make it harder to get semi-automatic weapons. Just like you do renewing your license at the DMV or beating a red-light camera ticket.”)
But, preserving each other’s fictions helps us get by in a cold and indifferent world, doesn’t it? I mean easier for us, not for the eight people who died yesterday. But this isn’t about mass death or college tuition bills. This is about King Charles’s Special Day, which I missed. After turning to my respective current events Bibles – the New York Post and Daily Mail - both of whom I can count on for scrupulously mean and unfair reporting, I learned that embattled Prince Harry spent just 28 hours and 42 minutes in the UK for dad’s coronation, before beating it back to Cali, so he could be present for his son’s fourth birthday, and to hug his wife, who keeps crapping on his family. I learned that Harry looked “cheerful to the point of cocky” according to a “body language expert,” even though his brother made no eye contact with him, he was made to wear a morning suit instead of his military kit by the Palace Powers That Be, and he was relegated to the third row with idiot cousins and his sex-criminal uncle, Prince Andrew, decked out in his frilly robes, as if Andrew were still a member in good standing instead of a hall-of-famer on Jeffrey Epstein’s Johns list.
And then there was King Charles in all his finery, his head nearly buckling under his mom’s heavy crown, looking like a drag queen at a Prince Purple Rain theme party.
Here is a photo of my graduate son, Luke, getting held in a moment of exuberance by his little brother, Dean.
And here is a picture of King Charles in his Mike Dukakis-crown. I ask you who looks more dignified? I might be biased, but I’m going with the former.
In any case, all of this royals talk reminds me of a piece I wrote back in 2005, when I put a hurting on them, as a red-blooded American, not seeing the point of it all. It came after Charles and Camilla’s eight-day visit to our fair land, and I was not nice. In fact, I can admit now, through the prism of time, that I was perhaps overly mean. Especially as someone who generally favors tradition for its own sake – because what else do we have? And who hates to see things change, because a Labash rule of thumb, and you can copy this in your Empowerment Journal, is this: “95 percent of all change is bad.” Since I ran the royal family through with my sword, I can admit now that I have softer feelings towards Charles, who did what he had to do. (Outlasted his mom.) And who has suffered a lot of slings and arrows from naysayers, including his ginger-headed son, whose book, Spare, I actually “read” on audio (I needed a quickie for my car). And which I quite enjoyed. Probably because it was ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer, possibly the finest ghostwriter in the business. (He also wrote Andre Agassi’s Open, and even if you’re not an Agassi or tennis fan, that might very well be the best sports memoir of the last 30 years.) So that you get passages like this from Harry:
I heard the story of what Pa allegedly said to Mummy the day of
my birth: Wonderful! Now you’ve given me an Heir and a Spare—my work is
done. A joke. Presumably. On the other hand, minutes after delivering this bit of high comedy, Pa was said to have gone off to meet with his girlfriend. So. Many a true word spoken in jest.
It makes Harry more likeable, and somehow, it makes his dad more likable too, even if he’s otherwise a frigid, loathsome character. For King Charles is just like us! Maybe worse! And so following is the thirtysomething-year-old-version-of-myself expressing hatred of The Royals. Who I don’t hate as much as I used to, after listening to the Music of Time. The same way I found myself rooting for Tom Brady, who I used to hate – for everything from playing for the Patriots, to his silly bowl haircut, to getting dressed in humiliating outfits by his wife – but who I found myself pulling for once he became an old guy. Precisely because he was an old guy. Sue me, but I just wanted to see the not-ideal-past beat the increasingly-horrible present.
And so here is the shot I took at the Royal Family, long ago. I admit that it is gratuitously mean, and sometimes unfair. Or maybe gratuitous meanness is fair in The Royals’ case? I don’t know. You might want to kick it around in comments. And if you need a dissenting vision, here’s an excellent take after The Queen’s demise, by Andrew Sullivan, on why this silly pageant is worth preserving, which I found somewhat persuasive, until I settled back into my default setting, reflected here: