Out of the Blue
These are the ties that bind
By Deborah Salomon
Back in the day, ancients believed their leaders descended from the gods, therefore possessed “divine right” to rule. Those chosen few — observing the lifestyle royalty affords — furthered their cause by concocting stories that reinforced the myth.
And so it went. Wars were waged between competing “royals.” Contenders (who perpetrated a similar myth) beheaded each other with frightening regularity. Kings solidified their positions by marrying only royal maidens who, failing to produce male heirs, were booted to a chorus of “Hit the road, Jack(ie), and don’t come back no more, no more . . . ”
Revolutions happened, monarchies tumbled in favor of republics, democracies, socialist states, yet even when they possessed only ceremonial power, kings and queens, princes and princesses survived, mainly to christen ships, open orphanages, attend Ascot and feed our fantasies. Their subjects still bow and curtsy. A sign of respect, I’m told, sometimes good for a giggle: The queen is not allowed to vote or express partisan opinions. But she’s allowed a lady-in-waiting to carry her hankie and bouquets, as well as to clear the loo before a royal visit.
Have you guessed where I’m heading? Down the solid gold brick road to Buckingham Palace. Windsor Castle. Balmoral. Sandringham. Clarence House.
Shocking that 2020-21 was both the Year of the Pandemic where millions suffered and died and the Year of the British Royal Family, who provided audiences with a mud-wrestling extravaganza. No wonder Mr. Trump feels deserted. Royal tribulations regularly shove him off Page One. The BBC put out a casting call for courtiers. Any news will do, from the tragic death of a consort to the tragic death of a puppy. A misstep President Biden makes in Her Majesty’s presence becomes a headline so imagine the kerfuffle over her eldest grandson (Princess Anne’s offspring) getting divorced. New babies keep popping up, Prince Andrew’s scandals keep going down.
And that’s in addition to Harry and Meghan’s carefully scripted Oprah-fest.
Don’t get me wrong; I think Queen Elizabeth is a fine old lady who performs her duties with grace and distinction. After all, it’s a pretty good job which includes room(s) and (a groaning) board, transportation (gilt carriages, maroon Bentley limo, a stable of Range Rovers and Thoroughbreds, private train and aircraft) plus health insurance, paid vacation, a generous pension and, most important, uniforms.
Who cares, if you can’t order Chinese at 10 p.m.?
The thing I’m not buying is royal “blood,” the “lineage” that sets them apart.
Sadly, recent events have suggested those veins need transfusing.
I also notice a dereliction of duty on behalf of the royal-watching media, who used to remain tight-lipped regarding improprieties. Now, like hawks and fishwives, they screech the latest scandal from towers and turrets. Do we need to know that granddaughter Zara Tindall gave birth on the bathroom floor? Or that Kate Middleton’s brother is suffering from depression? Some mean-spirited cartoonist has even dredged up those old separated-at-birth head shots of Prince Charles and MAD Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman. To balance the negative — and spur competition — tabloid hacks jumped on the bandwagon driven by Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie, newly identified as the queen’s BFF, confidante and spokescountess who, obviously, prefers her crumpets buttered on both sides.
So it shall continue, because Americans are hooked, mostly on the clothes, those incredible outfits with flying-saucer hats and deadly stilettos worn by young royals, not to mention Her Majesty’s neon ensembles. I am hooked because I’d rather read and write (shamefully three times in 12 months) about soap operas played out across the pond than the political tragi-comedies underway on home turf.
Still, enough is enough. Diana and Philip are dead. William’s bald head is old news. Jeffrey Epstein’s buddy Prince Andrew has been benched. Harry’s changing diapers, eating corn dogs and drinking Coors while Charles, wearing (shudder) tartan kilts, weeds his organic garden. But the queen, God bless her, still sips a gin and Dubonnet with a twist before lunch, wears Mad Hatters and runs on Energizers.
I’m thinking she just might outlast us all. PS
Deborah Salomon is a writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at email@example.com.
Her favorite book is Sophie’s Choice by William Styron