Tuesday, March 29, 2005

On Prince Charles

I don't suppose I have ever given much thought to Prince Charles--he isn't my prince, after all--but I found this piece in the Washington Post a fun read, and was struck by how Prince Charles' outlook is described:
Underpinning all of these activities is his passionate belief in eternal values such as community, responsibility and respect for nature. The prince believes humankind has lost its connection with the natural world and fears it could destroy itself unless harmony is restored. He harbors a deep suspicion of modernism and its agents, whether scientists, doctors, lawyers, educators or architects.
I suppose it must be no uncommon thing for members of royalty to have deep suspicions of modernity's trappings, since the Enlightenment and Age of Reason didn't work so well for monarchical rule. But, this description of the "natural world" losing its "harmony" sounds downright Elizabethan.

Another thing in the article that struck me was how involved Prince Charles seems to be with charity-work:
Over nearly three decades -- ever since he left the Royal Navy in December 1976 -- Charles has turned the title of Prince of Wales into a public institution. He maintains a connection with 17 main charities and a host of smaller ones that with his help raise nearly $200 million per year. Foremost among them is the Prince's Trust, Britain's largest youth charity, which seeks to help disadvantaged young people with training, mentoring and financial assistance. Last year he gave 50 major speeches, visited 59 countries and undertook 517 official engagements.
I remember back when Princess Diana was still living, doing all that work with landmines and world poverty; whenever you (as an American, at least) thought of Charles, it was always as if he was some sort of moral foil contrasted with the innocent and valorous image we had of Diana, that woman perpetually wronged . Prince Charles, if thought of at all, was cast as some sort of the anti-Princess Di: a cold and passionless fogey of a man, whose distance and separation from the people seemed a function of his separation and distance from Princess Diana.

Who knew--or even thought to ask--that Charles was struggling so hard not to be the lout we always thought he was?


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