Treated like royalty, is it nice to be heir

By Eva Bradley


What a sweet world it is to live in when tea parties, curtseys and how-do-you-dos dominate headlines.

The royal visit this week has been like a pleasant, mild-mannered walk down memory lane. A return to times past when people were good to each other and the biggest story of the day didn't feature death or depravity on a grand scale.

I don't know if I'd call myself a royalist. The main benefit to me of belonging to a monarchy would seem to be that the women's magazines always have consistent coverage of what Kate wore to her latest charity gig and where her glamorous relatives (and their pert bottoms) have been seen lately.

But when royals hit the headlines just because they hit our shores, a different sort of media treatment reminds us instead that the royal family are more than just an interesting, sometimes scandalous and always fashionably dressed diversion.

They are the leaders of state and, with an entourage of security, they also bring a crowded and noble history that harks back to ancient times when kings and princes had divine right to rule and an unquestionable political legitimacy.

Prince Charles has always seemed to me to be a bit of a bookish intellectual - two parts awfully proper and totally inaccessible to one part down-to-earth and jolly-good-fellow. Mostly, I never think of him at all, but if I do it is with a mild disinterest and sense of sympathy that a very private individual is forced by accident of birth to live out the best and worst moments of his life in the highly critical public eye.

And unlike his predecessors, with the added hassle of a hungry and unrelenting modern media machine, yet without any right of reply ("off with his head" no doubt among the most dearly missed).

Bring a prince these days is a pretty raw deal compared to the past. While Charles' long-dead relatives could lock up and lop off the heads of even the most mild dissenters, today every one of his "subjects" has an opinion on what he says and spends. In an age when some are violently opposed to the monarchy and others are, at best, supremely disinterested, it was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to see the streets of our capital lined with royal well-wishers, all clamouring to press the flesh and exchange pleasantries with the heir to the throne.

Prince Charles' birthday celebrations were covered in minute detail in the nation's press, with every utterance he made to those who shared it with him faithfully recounted in column inches in every newspaper in the realm.

As the sun set on his 64th birthday Down Under on Wednesday, and he put on his slippers and prepared for bed, I can imagine he might have told Camilla just how smashing it was to see some good, old-fashioned enthusiasm for the monarchy, how jolly good it felt to be hounded by adoring fans instead of the paparazzi for a change and just how charming Her Majesty's subjects in the colonies were.

And goodness, gracious me, one couldn't agree more.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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