I was a young teenager when then-Prince Charles married his first wife Diana – the one who would become Queen. Hopes were high for the 30-year-old, who gave up trying to find an aristocratic maiden terribly late – both of which are prerequisites for a future wife. It didn’t help that he was already hopelessly in love with another, most unsuitable woman.
Woman “with a past”, as Aristos put it so delicately. “Not in a state of grace,” our own hierarchy would probably have said.
In any case, on that summer morning in 1981, nothing was known about it. It was “the stuff of fairy tales,” as the Archbishop of Canterbury put it.
Her face was “already on the tea towels,” Diana’s sisters said, as she looked to retire, uncertain about the marriage that awaited her after learning of her royal fiancé’s true love ahead of their wedding day.
None of the 750 million people worldwide watching TV, myself included, saw anything but a beautiful princess marrying her prince in a fluffy white confection that dwarfed her diminutive frame. It was joy, happiness and love, and for the British, it was the establishment finally putting themselves back together.
In a Britain at odds with itself in the 1970s, a militant working class had emerged with three million unemployed and strikes and riots in the streets. During Margaret Thatcher’s administration, a revived Labor Party began to flourish.
We’ve always had a somewhat odd relationship with the British royal family, for obvious reasons rooted in our shared, uneven and sometimes violent history.
But since that royal wedding 41 years ago, we’ve discovered that we’re very capable of holding two thoughts in our heads – the celebrity that was Diana’s glory and the dichotomy and anachronism that defines a monarchy.
I have followed, enjoyed and been fascinated by the soap opera ever since. I bought the magazines, devoured the spectacle, and sat riveted on the births, marriages, and deaths that followed.
As this unfortunate and hesitant bridegroom begins his own reign, never has a king been more prepared, with the one person
at his side able to help him make
it a success, the excellent Queen Consort Camilla.
We will always keep an uneasy eye on the strangeness of our nearest neighbors, and there will be many who will wish Charles ill, or at least watch with glee as his wayward government tripped itself up while his subjects suffered the consequences.
Unlike his mother, he won’t be able to keep his many opinions to himself.
His first visit as King to Belfast last week was evidence of this, when he demonstratively ‘polled’ whether Sinn Féin was now the largest party in the North.
I wish him well and hope he visits Ireland more often. He has committed to visiting all 32 counties. We can finally show him how a successful independent nation can survive, thrive and remain friends 100 post-colonial years later. The UK needs as many as it can get, after all.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/i-hope-charles-will-not-be-able-to-keep-his-opinions-to-himself-42005745.html I hope Charles won’t be able to keep his opinions to himself