|Photo by Dan Marsh|
If I do something incredibly stupid, no one cares. No newspaper, celebrity rag, or website is going splash my misdeeds all over the world. I'm just another anonymous person, living in plain sight, doing regular stupid things and pretty much getting away with them.
Hell, I can't even get anyone to read about my teen foibles, given that my memoir sits at the bottom of Amazon's list, and I did a lot of really stupid stuff.
Prince Charles doesn't enjoy that anonymity; everything he does is well-documented, from his doomed marriage to Princess Di to his phone conversation (taped) in which he revealed to his paramour Camilla that he wished she were his tampon -- yikes!
I have never wished to be someone's tampon, and even if I had, no one would give a gosh-durn.
I never thought too much about Prince Charles or the royals in general, but Time's November 4, 2013, profile of the beleaguered Prince has changed the way I feel about his plight.
I have always held the prevailing belief that he is just another pampered royal, his every whim catered to, and while this may be true, he lacks one very important element in his life: to just live his life privately. And from what I could glean from "Heart of a King," he is a natural introvert, cast into a role for which he was born and one that he may not have really wanted.
For example, for the sake of the Kingdom, he married a woman he didn't love and tried (unsuccessfully) to carry on a secret affair with his true love Camilla, who, by all reports, is raucous and fun-loving, a perfect foil for the introspective Charles -- unlike the high-strung Di, also a royal deserving of our sympathy. After all, she was young and had no idea what was in store for her: a chilly husband, constant paparazzi, and an early death.
The Prince is different from run-of-the-mill celebrities in that fame for self-made celebs can wax and wane, either through circumstance or design. In order to remain in the limelight, regular celebrities have to keep cultivating their images; otherwise, they quickly fade into the background. Even secondary royals can slip under the radar. When was the last time you heard about Princess Anne?
But not Prince Charles. He is forever famous, just by happenstance of birth.
There is no support group for Charles, no one who identifies with "My name is Prince Charles, and I'm the future King of England." No one (other than his family) is able to relate to his station or offer true empathy. We can only imagine how he deals with the psychological aspects of being first in line for King in the most famous kingdom of the world, but we can't know it.
Sure, he can set up foundations and have a significant impact on areas important to him, and, by all accounts, he's very active in funding young business people get a start and in maintaining England's architectural gems, using his station in life for good works.
You and I navigate the business of everyday life; we get up, shower or bathe, dress ourselves, brush our teeth, grab breakfast, catch a bus or train, work, cook an occasional meal, worry about money, pay bills -- ordinary acts we take for granted.
Now imagine Prince Charles having to suddenly assume these tasks. Suppose he were one day to be booted from his palace and told, "Charlie, baby, you're on your own."
It would be similar to modern humans being thrust back 150 years ago and having to learn new skills and having no access to modern media, fast cars, and electricity. When was the last time you rode a horse? Made a fire without matches and lighters? Cooked over a wood fire in the woods? Survived long-term without electricity? Chopped wood? Hauled water from a stream? Survived brutal, isolated winters? Gave birth without a doctor and painkillers? Survived life-threatening diseases without medication? Traveled across the nation in a wagon train and settled in hostile areas?
You see where I'm going with this?
From what I have read (and if Downton Abbey is correct about the upper crust of England), Prince Charles does not use an alarm clock, dress himself, or even load his own toothbrush -- his personal valet does all these tasks. He employs a personal secretary to organize his schedule. Housekeepers clean his living space and cooks and servers pull together his meals and serve them on fine china. In short, everything is done for him, not by him, but what if he had to assume all these tasks on his own?
Would he be able to cook his own meals? Dress on his own? Load his own toothbrush? Catch a bus? Buy groceries at Sainsbury's? Order a sandwich at Pret a manger? For what job would he qualify? How would he rent a flat? As a stopgap, how would he apply for the dole, Great Britain's version of welfare?
I fear that he would have a difficult time managing those day-to-day tasks that we ordinary folk take for granted.
Charles is not likely to be cut loose anytime soon, so his extraordinary life seems secure and safe.
But how does he deal with the crushing loneliness of his situation? How does he explain his heavy heart to people who see only the privilege and outer riches of his life? I'm sure Camilla is helpful, but even she can not fully understand the burdens borne by her husband. She, after all, chose her life with Charles, for better or worse, and evidently accepts it and the fact that she will never be a Queen.
Charles was simply born to it, for better or worse, and short of abdicating, his life is what it is.
He must be the loneliest person in the world.