CHARLES, Prince of Wales, is heir to the throne on account of being first-born of Queen Elizabeth II (may she live forever).

But Charles is a troubled soul ...

When Mississippi Delta bluesmen dolefully wail about "trouble on my mind", they don't begin to plumb the depths of Charles's troubles. Viz — visiting Lord Rothschild's Buckinghamshire home, Charles bemoaned having only nine gardeners, compared to his host's 15.

His aides are berated with such admonitions as: "Even my office is not the right temperature. Why do I have to put up with this? It makes my life so unbearable."
"Nobody knows what utter hell it is to be Prince of Wales," Charles averred in 2004.

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It seems only refugees fleeing Syrian ruins can start to empathise with his deprivations.
But Charles is fighting back. Whenever he and Camilla accept sleep-over invitations at private residences, a furniture truck precedes their arrival with the complete contents of their at-home bedrooms, down to the linen, loo paper and lavatory seats (yes, really). Anything to ease the wretchedness of it all.

Queen Victoria had a similarly over-indulged elder son, Edward, also a Prince of Wales, who had a long wait in the wings.

Eddie, whiling away the time with a succession of accommodating mistresses – including Lillie Langtry – was eventually nicknamed Edward the Caresser.

The bizarre and often tawdry antics of "the Firm" make for great reality TV, and the pageantry attracts big tourist dollars. But the problem is that Charles is also heir apparent to New Zealand's constitutional monarchy.

If the Queen (may she live forever) predeceases him, this berk — complete with travelling lavatory seat — becomes our official Head of State.

Some contend it's just an honorary title, but events surrounding the fall of the Gough Whitlam government say otherwise. The Queen's representative, Governor-General Sir John ("Cur") Kerr was co-opted by internal politics, and our own current GG, Dame Patsy Reddy, could just as easily be a ready patsy for local vested interests.

So by all means stay part of the Commonwealth, by all means have Wills and Kate come out for a whistle-stop (as long as we get the souvenir teaspoon franchise to help pay for it), but let's lose altogether the prospect of a loose-screw Head of State, and proudly become a republic.

Similarly, we seriously need to back away from our current political alignments.
The whole point of alignment is hitching your wagon to like-minded nations with something to offer. At the moment, life with our main alignment partners is like being caught up in a Married At First Sight nightmare, and ending up with psychotically dysfunctional rellies from hell.

Take the United States — headed by a trigger-happy narcissistic egomaniac with his finger on the button of the world's most powerful nuclear arsenal. His country's past and present catastrophic military forays in the Middle East have left half the planet hating their guts and plotting revenge.

The United Kingdom — tarred by the same brush, and currently mired in a Brexit-induced identity crisis with its government desperately looking for a Falkland Islands-type diversion. Consequently they want to restart the Cold War solely on the basis of someone's (despicable) use of a toxic — but as yet unprovenanced — substance. And requiring our PM to publicly suck UK toe to supposedly prove our staunchness.

Our Anzac cousin – never ceasing to affirm the value of our "mateship", yet God forbid if you're Kiwi-born but have lived in Oz for 40 years and happen to get a parking ticket.
With friends like these, who needs foes?

The Swiss have got it right ... being non-aligned doesn't mean being unfriendly or friendless. Instead of slavish obsequiousness, how much better to maintain a certain distance and clarity, judging each situation on its own merits. Better, too, for consolidating a more constructive role in international peace-keeping or humanitarian work, rather than being sucked into deadhead power-bloc politics.