11 Feb 2005 Not the Wedding of the Century
Ed Haislmaier has some thoughts about the civil wedding bells that soon will be ringing in Britain:
Hearing the news that Prince Charles has publicly announced his intention to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles, I immediately remembered that the best take I’d ever seen on the subject was the following from Florence King’s “The Misanthrope’s Corner ” column in the February 12, 1996 issue of National Review:
Currently, I side with Prince Charles and think he deserves a feminist award. Most men ditch their dear old Dutch for a trophy wife but he ditched the trophy wife for his dear old Dutch. No one gives him credit for preferring time-ravaged Lady Camilla Parker-Bowles to firm-fleshed Di, or realizes her ladyship’s value to the state. Plebeianized England needs Queen Camilla: any woman can ride a horse but it takes a true aristocrat to look like one.
That is still, for my money, one of the wittiest comments ever from a very witty writer. But on a more sober note, King was writing during the “Chuck and Di Split” period, and re-read today, in the light of Diana’s subsequent death, her next two paragraph’s seem prophetic:
Charles is regarded as an odd duck because his hobbies of architecture and the cello fall outside the Pale du jour. Diana, on the other hand, is considered normal because her hobbies — throwing up, hurling herself into glass cabinets, hating her husband — conform to acceptable feminist standards of assertiveness and self-expression.Actually she’s one diamond short of a full tiara. Not like those royals of yore called the Mad and the Simple; full-bore insanity with its connotations of blue blood would offend our anti-elitist age. Democracy demands neurosis and Diana delivers. So far she has indulged in common-garden masochism, but falling through glass eventually loses its charm. Needing bigger and better crashes, she is courting self-destruction by assaulting what she dimly realizes is her only identity: the monarchy itself.
At Ed’s suggestion, I read Florence King’s column and have to say I was struck by a completely different section of her column — her hilarious memories of arguments about the British aristocracy between her parents, one of whom was British; the other, American.But then, I have an American spouse. Ed’s is English.