The British royals may have weathered centuries of scandal, but their dynasty keeps on rolling along
The nuptials of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles, after 35 years of innuendo, gossip, rumors, sniggering, and highly publicized heartache, while surely proof that love (or, at any rate, patience) conquers all, come, one supposes, as welcome news to many less illustrious lovers. The wedding has also set off the usual chorus of predictions that this inevitably means the end of the British royal family. The British public has been variously described as "furious" with Prince Charles because of the posthumous insult to the memory of Diana, the late Princess of Wales, or "enraged" with the queen, his mother, because she declined to attend the wedding (and announced her pleasure at the prince's second, and decidedly less glamorous, marriage in noticeably lukewarm tones). American tabloids suggested that Parker Bowles herself was in tears upon learning that she would merely be raised to the rank of Duchess of Cornwall and, in the event that the prince succeeds to the throne, would only be "queen consort," not queen.
For those of us who are British, and of a certain age, this dire prophecy seems unlikely to come true. On the contrary, the current climate seems almost like "Springtime for the Windsors" (to paraphrase Mel Brooks). Indeed, the two things that come to mind most quickly about the royal wedding are the old French saying "The more things change, the more they remain the same" and admiration, once again, for the royal family's remarkable ability over the centuries to adapt to unhappy or unwelcome news in the interests of staying in power.
If you are looking for stability, in other words, look no further than the royals. They have ruled England since the mists of time, for well over 1,000 years, despite civil wars, the occasional accession to the throne of knaves, adventurers, imbeciles, and murderers, and despite the tendency of the monarch's family, in every age, toward graceless behavior, greed, bad manners, arrogance, swinish self-indulgence, and lurid sexual misconduct.
The country that could cheer at the coronation of Richard III, who came to the throne having murdered the captive King Henry VI and his son the Prince of Wales, as well as Richard's own brother Clarence and his two nephews, or that could put up with the antics of the wastrel sons of George III (Queen Victoria's "wicked uncles") or the more recent bad behavior of the Prince of Wales (later to become, briefly, Edward VIII, then Duke of Windsor) and his brother the Duke of Kent, can certainly put up with the marriage of two rather more than middle-aged people after 35 years of playing hide-and-seek with the press and their spouses.
Frumpy. A country that could live with the persistent (though apparently incorrect) rumor that one of Queen Victoria's grandsons, the genial if slow-witted Prince Albert Victor (known in the family as "Eddy"), was in fact Jack the Ripper without the slightest diminution of its affection for the royal family can surely learn to live with an irritable, balding, blood-sports-loving Prince Charming and his frumpy, gray-haired consort.