More importantly, this was a very unflattering rumination of someone you can’t trust to be a pillar of international diplomacy, let alone personal tact. What kind of new men do not realize that there is only one acceptable answer to, Do you love your fiancée? Weak Amir gives this answer. The seasoned king doesn’t, and this is the moment some royal watchers are beginning to wonder if the crown should just skip a generation.
The problem, of course, was that Charles knew what it meant to be in love, he felt for a different person: a no-frills horse lover named Camilla Parker-Bowles, whom he first met at a polo match in the 1970s whom he allegedly wrapped with This big line: “My great-grandmother was your great-great-grandfather’s mistress. I feel we have something in common.”
But she also married someone else, thus unleashing the love triangle from hell.
Shortly before Diana’s wedding to Charles, he found the engraved jewelry of the Princess that he had bought for Camilla; Years later, the Prince was caught in a recorded phone call fantasizing about being reincarnated as one of Camilla’s tampons. “There were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana once said in an interview. Even after their divorce in 1996, Diana’s heartbreaking death in 1997, and Charles’ long wait to formalize his relationship with Camilla – the couple didn’t marry until 2005 – Charles’ new wife was always seen as his old lover.
When Queen Elizabeth II died last week and Charles took the throne, development showed how little we can move outside of the love triangle. One popular memes read “To All Dealers: Just Believe” in large letters below a slightly sinister photo of Camilla wearing a tiara.
The idea was that she had waited her time, and waited, and canceled the order, and now she had the nickname (“Queen Consort”) and the man, even if the man was dripping, whose idea of sexy talk included feminine hygiene products. Britain is only involved in this particular royal dynasty because King Edward VIII abdicated the throne eight decades ago. He wanted to marry a divorced American, and when forced to choose between the crown and love he chose love. And now here we have King Charles III, a divorced man who married a divorced woman after their decades-long relationship, and somehow he and his queen had to choose everything.
One imagines that public opinion of Camilla would have been different if Diana had lived – if she, too, had the opportunity to remarry, if she had settled into a middle-aged life from fundraisers or guest appearances on Britain’s Got Talent. .” Instead, she is Forever 36, charming and deeply abused.
I had just entered high school when Diana died. I woke up after a friend of mine fell asleep on the news. The rest of the morning turned to six or seven sexy tweens glued to the TV, wondering if Prince William would be okay and if he needed six or seven dramatic tweens to calm him down. Everything was Charles’ fault – we knew it until then. Charles and Camilla, they break the heart of the People’s Princess, leaving her to fend for herself against the flirty paparazzi.
After Elizabeth died, I went back and watched some old footage of Diana and Charles, including that original 1981 TV interview, which was taped even before I was born. It was startling to realize that Charles – the sly older man in my memory of events – was, in that interview, younger than me now.
“It’s all about ‘in love,’ he said. Looking back, this young man might still have figured it out. He was old enough to know better, sure, but a lot of 32-year-olds don’t know better.”
And now, well – he’s now unmistakably old. Saggy eyes, thin and completely white hair. The Crown is not a single generation past, but Charles, 73, is already older than most royalty ever.
The strength of the British monarchy lies not in the way it rules – not in all intents and purposes – but in its stories. What myths can it give us? What are archetypes, and what happens happily? With his romantic life Charles III always seemed to spoil his only real duty: to give us a damn fairy tale.
But as I watched him this week, he and Camilla, address Parliament, greet well-wishers and arrive at the palaces, his entire narrative began to take a different shape.
Imagine it as a Nancy Meyers movie. Imagine something with great scenery and post-menopausal fatigue. A famous rich boy meets a vulgar, no-frills girl. When he leaves to join the Navy, she marries someone else, and eventually he does too – Someone younger, prettier, and by all conventional standards a better match.
Years pass: children, divorce, death. Finally, with the blessing of his rich and famous sons, the famous rich man contacts the girl for a dowry and asks her to marry him. He never stopped loving her, you see. No matter how much sadness or embarrassment he caused, or how much he was supposed to instead want the beautiful young princess the world wanted. I’ve been watching after a pony girl for decades.
Who knows if King Charles III will be a “good king”, whatever that means. As a young husband, he was definitely not a prince. But if Nancy Meyers made this movie, you’ll watch it. In the world of modern fairy tales, you will know which love story was supposed to take root.
An earlier version of this story stated that King Edward VII abdicated. It was actually King Edward VIII. The story has been corrected.