In case you haven’t heard, Trump is visiting the U.K. and it is causing all kinds of anxiety for the international press. Apparently London is expected to pretend Americans don’t elect a new leader every 4-8 years and instead treat Trump like he is the second coming of Jar Jar Binks.
A writer for The New Yorker tweeted out his sympathy and fawning thanks to Prince Charles for “taking one for the team” in greeting Mr. and Mrs. Trump when they landed on British soil.
Prince Charles, an old pro, taking one for the team.
— John Cassidy (@JohnCassidy) June 3, 2019
I suppose it is just human nature to idealize other people or other nations based on superficial knowledge. In this case Cassidy and others like him idealize British culture based on their Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Trump is no prince, but then again neither is the Crown Prince. Let’s not pretend the British monarchy has no familiarity with sin, crassness or scandal.
Prince Charles has managed to wrangle away from the cruelty he has perpetrated in his past, largely in thanks to a dead former wife. The world isn’t constantly reminded anymore of how poorly he treated Princess Diana. Charles began ‘dating’ Diana when she was just 16 and only after he had previously dated her older sister. He was 32.
Charles was cheating on his wife even before they married. He continued his less-than-private affair throughout their entire marriage, eventually going on to marry his mistress after Diana’s death. He was an adulterer and a liar. People may rightfully despise President Trump for his secretly recorded remarks about grabbing women by their private parts, but Charles is no stranger to crude expressions. In 1992 – while he was still married – the press released recordings of him telling then-lover Camilla Parker-Bowles he wished he could be a tampon so he could live inside her all day.
By the time of Diana’s death a fuller picture had emerged of their rocky relationship and the Prince’s cold and disrespectful treatment of his world-famous bride.
Diana herself was not without scandal. It is fairly common knowledge that she carried on her own affair with polo player James Hewitt. Hewitt is rumored to be Prince Harry’s biological father although he and the palace have obviously denied the rumor emphatically over the years.
Then there are the typical “scandals” revolving around the young men and women who were trying to negotiate growing pains with being a member of the monarchy – Harry dressing as a Nazi for a costume party and getting caught playing nude games at a party in Vegas; William being photographed drunkenly cavorting with friends. The Queen’s sister Margaret was infamous in her day for her partying ways and blatant bucking of royal protocol. Her doomed marriage succumbed to rumors of drug use, alcoholism and other unseemly questions about her husband’s sexuality. She quite publicly took a lover and later it was revealed her husband had fathered a child with another woman just prior to their nuptials.
Princess Anne faced similar challenges in her own first marriage. Prince Andrew endured his own divorce with Sarah Ferguson and has since faced a barrage of accusations about his sexual appetite, including a rape charge.
Then there is shocking and romanticized case of King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. History remembers it as a voluntary act of love, but recent FBI revelations from the time point to a more disturbing truth – Edward may have been forced to abdicate because of Simpson’s involvement in passing state secrets to a Nazi she’d been involved with.
Of course we can go back further, all the way through history to King Henry VIII who had six wives, murdered two of them and created the first notion of a “state church” when he infamously created the Church of England in order to set himself up as the head and grant himself permission to divorce.
None of this is shocking and most of it is hardly even news anymore. That is my point. The idea that Trump is some crass, debaucherous scallywag and the British monarchy are comprised of moral, upstanding and refined characters is patently ridiculous. This is not Beauty and the Beast. The monarchs don’t have to plug their ears and look away in Trump’s presence for fear of his crassness rubbing off on them. They’re quite familiar with low behavior and blue expressions. They practically invented the public scandal.
The truth of the matter is that none of these people are without shame. None of them holy and blameless. Far from it. In fact, I suspect Charles and Trump might have more in common than not and that he probably gets on well with most of the state leaders the media assumes hate him as much as they do.
Public persona is never the same as private persona. Let us not idealize a family that depends on the meager earnings of others to support their great wealth.
Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth, Mayor Sadiq Khan…none of them are any better than Trump and not one carries any sort of moral superiority over our president.
We fought a long and bitter war to free ourselves from such notions.