I groaned at my admirer Tony Dodd's cliche-ridden classification of Prince Charles's life as a "privileged yet worthless existence". I was glad to see others take him to task for this boring, ill-informed comment. If we must have republicans here, can they at least argue sensibly? The Prince's Trust, and many other of Charles's activities, are plainly thoughtful and worthy things, the fruit of a serious and generous mind. The 'privilege' of the monarchy (as any reader of Shakespeare must know) is all about maintaining its mystery and standing. In any organisation or institution, the senior figures are hedged about with various special facilities and privileges, whether they be the key to the executive washroom, the chauffeured car, the corner office, the big desk, the pretty PA, and of course the invariable use of a title "Managing Director", "Prime Minister" etc..
How can informed people continue to imagine that the monarchy is expensive and luxurious? Why are the same people unbothered by the huge government car fleet, and the flunkeydom and perks which attend the lives of ministers? Why do they snivel about the formal respect granted to Majesty (which stands for our sovereignty over ourselves) - yet not object to the gloopy sycophancy of the mad, Stalinesque standing ovations given to political leaders for their dire orations?
We know now about the Queen's Spartan breakfast table, the Tupperware and the ancient radio. These people are not the Bourbons or the Romanovs, who were themselves maligned in the same way by revolutionaries. Revolutionaries, on the other hand, usually end up living in gross luxury once they are safely in power.
As a patriotic Protestant Englishman, Hitchens is of course entitled to prefer the style of monarchy represented by the Windsors to that of the Bourbons and Romanovs, though this blog supports all three dynasties. I'm glad though that even from his relatively Whiggish perspective he can acknowledge that French and Russian royalty were also unfairly "maligned...by [hypocritical] revolutionaries."