I am a bit of a history buff and had been thinking for awhile of airing my views on royalty but didn’t know how to make the article interesting. This morning, something on the internet grabbed my attention and gave me my opening: “Victoria’s Secret Exposed: Queen’s Roomy Unmentionables Added to Royal Costume Collection.” The story shows a woman holding a pair of bloomers having purportedly been Queen Victoria’s—they’re huge, she went from a twenty to a fifty-six inch waist, not surprising after having had nine children, and with old age. But talk about trivia!
Okay, I’m not crazy about royalty, although I have to admit that Queen Elizabeth did a wonderful job, inheriting the crown at twenty-six, a young wife and mother, who not only lost a cherished father but became Queen in the bargain. And it most certainly cannot be easy to be a prince consort or heir to a throne. The consort always has to walk behind his wife, his children belong to the country, and he is not master of his house. The heir—male or female—knows that his or her mother or father has to die for him or her to inherit the throne. The “consort” cannot divorce, as exemplified by the late princess Grace of Monaco. According to one biographer, when one of her intimates suggested she divorce Rainier, with whom she was miserably unhappy at the time, she cried: I can’t, he’ll take my children from me.
What I resent about royalty is that they did not earn the job, they inherited it. And not only the job, but all the money, the palaces, castles, jewels, art, diplomatic immunity, gifts from other rulers, public fawning, etc. All this mostly at taxpayers’ expense too. It used to be that marrying a prince or princess was a fairytale. Except for Constantine II of Greece and Denmark, I can’t remember the last time a royal married a royal, which might be just as well, seeing how inbred the British royal family, for instance, used to be. Of George V’s children, the Duke of Kent was a homosexual—he later “remedied” that by marrying Marina of Greece, a distant relation—the Duke of Gloucester was a hopeless drunk and substance abuser, the Duke of Windsor, briefly King Edward VIII, liked only married women and committed adultery with them, “Bertie,” the Duke of York, later George VI, stammered and had knock knees, and the baby, Prince John, was epileptic and died at fourteen. Charming …with Victoria, “the grandmother of Europe,” is this surprising? I believe every royal family in Europe in her time was related to her somehow.
Admittedly, there is not much “royalty” material in Europe anymore. All of Elizabeth’s offspring married commoners, although Lady Di was a cut above the “common folk.” In the rest of Europe, there are simply no royals to marry royals. I was laughing this week when I read an article about Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, who has recently become engaged to her long-time companion. Her mother, Queen Silvia, said: she fully backed her daughter’s choice. And well she might, having been a commoner herself when she married the king of Sweden. Victoria’s younger sister, the beautiful Madeleine, recently became engaged to the commoner with whom she has lived for several years. I could go on and on. There is not a king or queen in Europe today whose consort was/is not a commoner, except for the ex king Constantine of Greece, who married the then princess Anne-Marie of Denmark in 1964. They were triple third cousins, Constantine’s great-grandfather, Prince William of Denmark having been elected King George I of Greece at the age of seventeen.
Gone are the days of “family clones,” such as George V of England and Tsar Nicholas of Russia, who looked like twin brothers. They were in fact first cousins through their mothers, the sisters Alexandra and Dagmar of Denmark, the first having married Edward VII of England, the other becoming Empress Maria Feodorovna through her marriage to Alexander III of Russia, the mother of ill-fated Nicholas, whose own wife, Alix (Alexandra) was a descendant of Victoria. Elizabeth and Philip are both descendants of Victoria, she through her father, he through his mother, another “inbred” who was congenitally deaf.
In my mind, royalty has been totally demystified, but all these fresh new “bloods” who married into royal families in the last forty-five years or so produced bunches of beautiful, healthy, “normal” children, which is more than could be said a couple of generations ago.