Charles, the future sovereign of the English-speaking peoples, turned 70 yesterday. He sails into this stature trailing an almost unimaginable privilege and wealth, well-deserved mockery from every segment of the polite and impolite worlds, and a spectacularly dead wife, for which most hold him responsible.
Over the past weeks, we have been blessed with a tsunami of PR, a masterfully conceived and executed campaign to burnish his image including a trip to colorful Ghana and two flattering biographies, these biographies, moreover excerpted in newspapers with massive world-wide circulation. Google has uploaded a detailed google-eye view of his gardens at Highgrove and official residence, Clarence House. There have been television profiles and documentaries, multiple photo sessions with and without grandchildren, wife and fetching daughters-in-law and a host of print extolments from every still-reputable publication. If you are a Royalist these days, you are rolling in clover.
I tend towards the republican view of the Royal Family and particularly of Charles who seemed to me to be a thorough-going putz. This view is influenced by a ridiculous encounter, where I was forced by my employer to attend a private lunch and polo match to be capped by a formal introduction to the great man. I dutifully climbed into a designer suit and went off to a Palladian mansion with an attached polo field, ate, and flattered my way through the assembled aristocrats.
Charles did not want to meet me, as it turned out. He wanted to insult me. After the match he roared up to our viewing tent, my guide pushed me into the scrim and through a preposterous fifteen minutes, I was shoved towards him, and he abruptly turned his back to me. Like, over and over and over again. Shove, angle, the Royal back. Shove, angle, the Royal back. If I hadn’t been in shock, I would have been in stitches.
Sometime after I realized he was deliberately insulting me because our sister publication, People, sold another million copies every time they put Diana on the cover. So they did so. A lot. And he was truly incandescent with envy. Charles had called me down to the Palace a few months prior and offered me, through his licentious PR Dickie Arbiter, an exclusive, if he could have the cover of Time. Time was unimpressed by this offer. He was a snore to the brainiacs at Rockefeller Center. Never mind that I could have an exclusive with Diana for Life Magazine, the holy grail of 90’s journalism if they gave him a profile in Time. Nope. Nope. Nope.
So he decided to insult me the only way he could. After which he roared off in his Aston Martin, top down, feeling fine.
Understandably he earned me as an enemy. Further, an enemy who thought he was ridiculous. The silly elitism of his stance on Global Warming cemented my view. I pitied his agonies over his dead wife, his unpopularity, his commitment to “the Rottweiler”, nevertheless, I thought he was an arrogant, ridiculously privileged putz without an ounce of intellectual rigor.
Until I saw the gardens at Highgrove and was instantly seduced. There is nothing man-made more beautiful on earth than the Highgrove gardens. It is a visual representation of the English soul. I don’t care if he had endless money to build them, it was his vision, and he has created an astonishing tour of the most developed aesthetic I have seen and I include all known cultures, the hanging gardens of Babylon being unchronicled. The English have persisted as a dominant race because they methodically integrate every beautiful and useful creation of other cultures. Illustrated, most recently, by the Windsors’ adoption of a half-black Hollywood starlet and possible yacht girl and elevating her to Duchess.
Other elites exclude. The English ravish.
The Highgrove garden may be the final argument for the monarchy and more for Charles’s future Kingship. As curator more than ruler, Charles is an example of a leader who has gone through the fires of hell, repented his sins, and recreated the garden.
The Windsors represent. Long live.