The thing about the House of Windsor is that it is a polarizing entity. You either love them or hate them. Now I am a monarchist. I’m not sure why; maybe it is because I just like a good story. Over the years my favourite Royals did seem to have fun. Maybe it is the fact that “the Royal story” played out through my life. My story and theirs ran parallel.
That is true actually for all people through the centuries back to the Gunpowder Plot. We all walk in lock-step on the calendar with kings and queens. Significant royal events happened at a certain period in our lives.
First Brush With Death
Personally I remember when George VI died. I was just a child. It was frightening because it was my first encounter with death and I didn’t understand it. When Elizabeth was crowned the next year it was stamped in a young memory because we all got a box of toffee and a commemorative coin to celebrate the event. You still see the metal toffee boxes at flea markets.
Within our own family we followed the romance of Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Elizabeth, with Group Captain Peter Townsend. That was shut down by “the powers that be” because the dashing Townsend was a divorced man. The Church of England had a hand in it all. In later life Margaret turned out to be a real handful. She had “a taste for the grape” and was in some odd relationships including one with part-time actor and criminal John Bindon. That liaison included a romp on the island of Mustique in the Pacific, the private island where the rich and famous could party in seclusion.
Great Love Affair
Speaking of handfuls, Prince Charles was certainly one. He had a life long romantic relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. It was a relationship that continued after his apparently perfect marriage to Lady Diana Spencer. Camilla and Charles was certainly one of the great love affairs in the history of the Royal Family and one which continues to this day; Charles having eventually married Camilla. It rivals in intensity the love affair between King Edward VIII and twice divorced American Wallis Simpson. Edward was so besotted with Mrs. Simpson he stepped down as king rather than turn away from her favours. Whole books have been written about that relationship including Edward’s admiration for all things German and the exact nature of the hold that the ordinary looking Wallace Simpson had over him.
These are the big events in royal relationships. There is the sad tale of Sara Ferguson who fell out of favour rather quickly. She and Diana were friends and distinctly un-royal in some matters. As happens so often they were sort of forced out of the Family. That happens a lot.
You look at royal marriages over the years and if you ask the question how many of them end “happily ever after?” The answer is precious few; the recent marriages of William and Harry notwithstanding.
NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]