Magazine article The Spectator

If You Are Not Interested in the Royal Scandal, You Must Be a Smug Marxist

Magazine article The Spectator

If You Are Not Interested in the Royal Scandal, You Must Be a Smug Marxist

Article excerpt

We are all of us agog to know what Prince Charles got up to that was so heinous as to demand a multitude of injunctions. Was it something unbecoming? Unnatural? Unregal, in its modern sense, at any rate, we might guess.

I say we are all agog, but I may have got you wrong, of course. If you are on the self-denying and self-flagellating pious, political Left, you will have been telling everybody who will listen that you don't care what the heir to the throne has been doing. It's not the point, you will be saying, with hauteur and self-righteousness. Let's talk instead about the purpose of a monarchy in the 21st century; its constitutional role and the obvious necessity to reform it or do away with it altogether. At which point your audience will have drifted off somewhere, comatose or at least numbed.

I heard one of these people on the radio the other morning, some woman called Claire Fox. 'Don't you understand?' she droned at John Humphrys and later at Andrew Roberts, Tm not interested.' Every time John or Andrew tried to discuss the matter she shrieked, 'Listen! I'm not interested.'

Well, the rest of us are not interested in Claire not being interested, although I suppose we should respect her wish to tell everybody how not interested she is, over and over again. The rest of us, however, are very interested indeed in what Claire is not interested in. Undoubtedly she will think less of us for being so interested, but we don't really care.

Down at my local pub there are people who believe that Lord Salisbury is still the leader of the Conservative party, who are unaware of the existence of Iraq and alQa'eda and think that in domestic soccer the Corinthians remain a force to be reckoned with. But despite this evident dislocation from contemporary developments in the world, they are still avid to know what Charlie's been doing and they've read plenty of hints, here and there, and they are reduced to asking me because they know I'm in the media.

And I endeavour to tell them. I've logged on to the Internet and scoured the World Wide Web for salacious reports. Having been told that the full details are on an Italian website, I have used wit and imagination to get the lowdown. I have a comprehensive school education which did not, sadly, extend to even the rudiments of Italian or Latin. So I typed into Google a bunch of words which seemed Latin and relevant to the story. 'Regus', 'Scandalarum', 'Posteriore' being just three. Unfortunately this just led me directly to the Vatican website, so, for the benefit of my friends down the pub, I simply invented. They were happy enough with that in the end.

The truth is, everybody with any common sense is interested in the royal shenanigans or non-shenanigans. And the Left has never understood such apparent prurience and thinks we are all quite ghastly - or at the least low-minded and unserious - for caring. This failure to understand human motivation and indeed human relationships has hamstrung the radical Left for the best part of 200 years; and yet, incredibly, it persists.

Tony Benn used to tell us all, 'Itsh not about pershonalities, you know. Itsh about issues.' And he was able to do so without a flicker of irony, sitting in his Holland Park basement, nursing a 'mug' of tea, surrounded by an immense and profoundly weird library of tape recordings of everything he had said and everything said to him over the last 30 years, his eyes now and again revolving wildly in their sockets. …

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