You have to hand it to QE2. It took a while, but she finally beat VR for the title of longest-reigning queen and fair play to her for that, even if poor old Charles has been wandering around in the background like an unwanted, 66-year-old royal stripogram.
This I remarked to an elderly acquaintance earlier today.
Now that Elizabeth has beaten Victoria’s record, maybe she’ll abdicate and give Charles the throne.
What? he replied. She’ll have to be pulled out by the leg.
And of course, he was right. It will take the blow of an axe to remove the old queen from office, something the British royals are no strangers to, even if their aristocratic scruples prevent them from doing so with their own finely-shaped hands.
Meanwhile, Charles fumes, or perhaps not, as he approaches his seventies, the Man Who Might be King, wondering if his mother’s longevity was simply a sustained attack on his personal strength of character, a very public commentary on his unsuitability to be a monarch.
Who wouldn’t wonder that? What potential potentate would not ask himself what exactly was wrong as his mother reached retirement age twenty-five years ago while he was still in his prime at forty? A youngish vigorous man in the shadow of a powerful matriarch and in thrall to an assortment of fake-medicine charlatans, what was poor Charles to do?
Married to a child bride chosen for him, with his two children, he still had his beloved Camilla but he also had his obligations and in the end, where did it all get him?
Here he is now, a man of 66, immensely wealthy it has to be agreed, but with money he did not earn. A figurehead of nothing in particular, doing no specific job, having no special knowledge of anything, interviewed on TV for nothing other than his family connections.
Meanwhile, there’s the old queen, shaking hands with Martin McGuinness, backslapping with Cork fishmongers, building alliances with the most unlikely old enemies, while the British people, or some of them at least, simmer with rage, wondering why they pay for a privileged family of wasters and drunkards to pose as their heads of state.
Now personally, I can think of no better sinecure than to have the entire United Kingdom pay for my drunkenness and excess, but that’s a pipe-dream granted to few, and every one of those few happens to be a member of the Royal Family. You could understand why so many British tax-payers resent these people, but still, what would happen to Northern loyalists if the royal family should happen to up sticks and quit? What would Sammy and Billy do if no royal family existed? It hardly bears thinking about. They might have to become loyal to the rule of law and order. Heaven forfend.
What’s the Queen’s exit strategy? The old dear is 88 now and probably doesn’t expect to reach the century, so what exactly is she thinking? It surely can’t involve Charles, since her very continuance on the throne for the last decade is an insult to him and a statement to the world that she doesn’t consider him to be good enough. Why he hasn’t charged into the royal boudoir with an axe we will never know, but that’s noblesse oblige for you. Gordonstoun was good for something.
The exit strategy is probably to install one of Charles’s legitimate progeny on the throne, and of those QE2 might prefer William, to ensure a smooth transition to the future monarchs bred impeccably on Kate Middleton by the Buck House stable lads.
How long the monarchy can endure is anyone’s guess, despite the grudging affection earned by the old girl, not only in Britain but also in Ireland. However a monarchy is one thing, while an entire family of unproductive spongers supported by the taxpayer is quite a different matter.
For ourselves, it matters little, apart from the abiding interest in the British monarchy that everyone here seems to hold.