Magazine article The Spectator

Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense

Magazine article The Spectator

Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense

Article excerpt

Ours would be a grim age if we were to deny millions of people cheap and satisfying entertainment, and so, therefore, perhaps we should be especially grateful to the Prince of Wales and Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles as they approach their wedding day. Few people in Britain seem to welcome the happiness the couple clearly feel as they approach the regularisation of their relationship. However, the joy the public finds instead in engaging in acts of spite, hypocrisy, gratuitous vilification and outright republicanism seems to more than make up for that.

Among politicians even one so supposedly senior as the oafish Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, allowed himself a sneer when the engagement was announced. Among the clergy of the Established Church even the Bishop of Salisbury, David Stancliffe, could reconcile with his definition of Christian behaviour an attempt publicly to humiliate the heir to the throne by demanding that he apologise to his fiancée's former husband, Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, for cuckolding him. And among the media, where the anti-monarchist agenda is fashionable, there has been no shortage of so-called 'royal commentators' - you know the sort of tossers who once wrote a cuttings-job book on Prince Edward that can now be found in every remainder shop for 99p - saying the monarchy will implode the second our beloved Queen joins her ancestors.

In such an atmosphere, to plead for Mrs Parker Bowles to be treated with the civility our society normally affords to harmless middle-aged women is to invite ridicule. Politicians, media executives and even prelates have decided that the audience for which they are all, in their different ways, competing has one overriding consideration about the future Duchess of Cornwall: that she was responsible for the divorce and, it follows, for the death of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. No insult, no sneer, no impertinence can therefore be sufficient in dealing with this woman. Personal remarks are made about her dress sense and her physical characteristics. Her circle of friends, her recreations, her habits are all held up to obloquy. She is regarded not necessarily as having no feelings, but as having no right to them. Therefore, in the fevered minds of those who wish to expend their precious mental energy on this question, Mrs Parker Bowles has become an amalgam of Myra Hindley, Cruella de Vil and the bestial wardress of Belsen. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

There has probably been more garbage written about this forthcoming wedding, its participants and its effects on the future of our constitution than about anything since the Prince's first wife decided to entrust her transport arrangements to a driver who regarded being three times over the limit as the natural prelude to turning the ignition key. The monarchy will not come to an end when the Prince of Wales marries for a second time. The Prince himself will be no more disqualified from succeeding his mother than he is at the moment. The Church of England, which has compromised on far worse things than this in the recent past, will not enter a final collapse because of the carnal activities of its next supreme governor. It was, in any case, invented precisely so that a king could marry his mistress, so we should take comfort that at least one old tradition is being maintained. A few people with pews to fill, votes to garner or papers to sell will milk the this-is-the-ultimate-betrayal-of-Diana angle for all its worth, of course. But some of us cannot help wondering just what the public will do when the honeymoon is over, the new Princess of Wales (for, in law, that is exactly what she will be) comes out in public, and everyone realises she is not a monster after all, but precisely what the royal family needs.

At the moment, when it is so much easier to be hostile than constructive, such a notion requires a leap of the imagination beyond what many are capable of. …

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