Jim Furlong: All That Glitters

I always preface articles about the Royals by saying I myself am an unashamed and unapologetic monarchist. 

My life has been lived out in kind of a lock step with the George VI and his family and then Elizabeth II and her family including Charles who grew up in the same general bunch of post-war years that I did. I had a Windsor carriage like Charles did and in our school our uniform was that of a post- war English thing with caps with crossed flags, blazers, laced breeches (breeks), school ties and all that sort of thing. 

The cup of life 

Those links to the past may be why people like me and those of my ilk had a lot of tolerance for members of the royal family who  wandered “out of their lane”. 

We didn’t like Edward the VIII because he was weak and fell in love with a divorced woman, worse again an American, but in our history, he was a bit of a playboy rogue rather than a traitor. We also didn’t approve of Princess Margaret running around with Group Captain Peter Townsend. He was a decent fellow but  was divorced and it just wouldn’t do for the sister of the head of the Church of England to marry a divorced man. 

The marriage of Princess Margaret didn’t get the approval of the Queen and  Margaret got rid of Captain Townsend. We kind of liked Margaret as someone who liked life. She herself went through a  troubled marriage and then kept very odd company all the while having a good time and drinking deeply from the cup of life.  

We forgave Margaret and Fergie and Diana and all the rest who broke the rules. Prince Charles and his lifelong love affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles didn’t turn us against him. Our reaction was more “tsk tsk.” 

Line in the sand

The rules of behavior are odd in royal circles. We see the shenanigans and smile mostly at the minor foibles of the previous generations. We acknowledge the Queen as the head of The Church of England, but we smile at the list of divorced royals. It is hard to hang on in “The Firm” as it is sometimes called by the royals themselves. The business of being an HRH (his or her royal highness) is not easy. Both Sarah Ferguson and Diana Spencer and a lot more came to understand that. 

This however takes us to a new and very different “line in the sand.” I can hardly comprehend the exploits of Prince Andrew. He is essentially alleged to have been involved with an under aged girl through a friendship with his friend, the disgraced and now very dead sleaze ball and registered sex offender, Jeffery Epstein. 

Despite a complete denial Prince Andrew finds himself front and centre in the tabloids, which are having a field day. What is different about this story is that the matters under discussion aren’t a matter of morals. They are a matter of what is legal and what is not. That is different and leads who knows where.  


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