Magazine article The American Conservative

Kiss Me, Kate

Magazine article The American Conservative

Kiss Me, Kate

Article excerpt


Here we go again. It is impossible to overestimate quite how much the British like themselves--and impossible to underestimate quite how much the rest of the world dislikes the British. Having lived in England most of my adult life, I can attest that both viewpoints are 100 percent correct, except, that is, when it comes to English royal weddings.

Almost 30 years ago, the House of Windsor metaphorically tapped its loyal subjects on the shoulder and invited them to welcome Diana Spencer into their collective life. Such a royal wish was easy to obey--Prince Charles's photogenic young fiancee seemed just the sort of new recruit the monarchy needed. So welcome her they did, with an enthusiasm that delighted the royal strategists. The rest of the world, starting with the good old U.S. of A., followed.

Well, we all know how the storybook marriage ended in tears, and how the wicked old mistress Camilla landed her dumbo-eared prince and lived happily ever after. What most people do not know is that Diana's marriage was doomed from the start. Diana skeptics were legion even before the wedding. I speak from the inside, as I was one of her harshest critics until she turned me overnight. Her trouble was her pedigree. Both her parents were suspect--the father a weakling, the mother a bolter. Un-intellectual, headstrong, and willful were Spencer family traits. Worst of all, Diana was born an aristocrat, which meant that she had arrogance galore and not a small amount of snobbery. She also had a very anti-aristocratic quality--she was ambitious.

Once Diana realized that Charles was incredibly spoilt and not about to change his habits because of a petite bagatelle like marriage, she decided to upstage him to such an extent that the royal courtiers, as the strategists are known, panicked and decided to bring her down a peg or two or three. By the time they had finished with her, she was a wreck, the marriage was on the rocks, and the royal family was looking to heaven for divine advice.

Diana once told me that Prince Philip was the nicest and most down-to-earth of the royals and that Phil the Greek (as he's called by the hacks) had tried his best to rein in Charles and his courtiers. …

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