In Trinidad some years back, one of the funniest reggae songs ever written was produced. It went like this ...

"In Trinidad there was a family

With much confusion as you will see

It was a mama and a papa and a boy who was grown

He wanted to marry, have a wife of his own

Found a young girl that suited him nice

Went to his papa to ask his advice

His papa said: "Son, I have to say no,

This girl is your sister, but your mama don't know. Oh, woe is me."


Now the only modern day family I can recall subject to such scandal is the British royal family.

And the recent tawdry revelations that the Duchess of York was reportedly about £5 million ($11 million) in debt and allegedly almost bankrupt, brought no more than a weary sigh from most Brits.

The continuing financial chaos of Prince Andrew's former wife has, it is said, persuaded him to take charge of her financial affairs. Just what the Queen says of these goings-on, we can but imagine. But she cannot have been surprised. Her Majesty must have long since despaired of her family. Of her own four children, three - Charles, Anne and Andrew - have gone through divorces.

The fourth, Prince Edward, bitterly disappointed his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, by withdrawing early from a Royal Marines training course. More recently, his wife, the Countess of Wessex, was caught up in a business scandal.

The fact is, the British royal family has more skeletons rattling around in its cupboard than your local cemetery. The world has long since become accustomed to tales of behaviour a tad less than pukka round the back of the chukka field.

One of them, King Edward VIII, actually dumped his throne in favour of a piece of skirt, American divorcee Wallis Simpson. And you would need separate supplements pages long with this newspaper to list all the goings-on of British royals down the years. No matter the generation, they seem incapable of bucking the trend.

Of course, the lethargic Brits will never do anything about reining in the renegades who sit in palaces and even in times of austerity for their people, continue to live the sort of splurging lifestyle that once cost a French king his head. Yet it doesn't have to be like this.

In other European countries, royal families actually live and behave like ordinary citizens. In the Netherlands, Queen Juliana was often seen cycling around her capital. Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands retain royal families but all appear to have actually realised they live in the 21st century.

In Britain, those at Buckingham Palace behave as though the 19th century has yet to end.

This derision for their subjects is a dangerous trend. After all, it's only 221 years since Marie Antoinette allegedly told servants to let the starving Parisians "eat cake".

Maybe downtrodden Britain needs a good public execution or two to lift sagging spirits.

"Step up for the spectacle: the Duchess of Pork (sorry, York) falls today", sort of thing ...