|Grown up: Prince Charles and the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral
Tales from a disunited kingdom
Compared with the relatively civilised debate in India over who should succeed Pratibha Patil as President of the world’s largest democracy, the battle to determine whether the Prince of Wales should take over from the Queen as the constitutional monarch in the world’s oldest democracy has turned vicious.
Prince Charles has plenty of enemies who want the succession to jump a generation when the Queen dies and go to his 29-year-old son, Prince William.
The Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations had not even ended when the knives were out for Charles. He is now 63 and been padded up in the Buckingham Palace pavilion for an eternity while his 86-year-old mother, who has an unbeaten 600-plus to her name at close of play, fully intends to carry on batting when play resumes in the morning.
Frankly, I am surprised that a loyalist paper such as The Daily Telegraph has carried an anti-Charles piece by its columnist, Allison Pearson, headlined, “Prince of Wales presents a real danger to the monarchy”.
There is almost visceral hate for Charles in the article. “You see, the Queen has done her job too well... Who on earth can follow such an act? Not Prince Charles, I suspect. We know far too much about his foibles and past errors to revere him as we revere his mother.”
There is reference to a private telephone conversation that Charles had with his then mistress, Camilla, which unfortunately for him was secretly recorded. “What will it feel like to have a monarch who is on public record as wanting to be reincarnated as his mistress’s Tampax?... There is a nagging fear that, when the Queen finally proves mortal, the British monarchy will be laid to rest beside her.”
Some bloggers agree. However, many do not and want Charles to be king.
“A very churlish and unworthy article, particularly at this time,” observed a blogger.
Another dismissed the arguments in the article: “Ridiculous nonsense... Charles has not only grown older, he has done something many of his generation...refuse to do, i.e., he has grown up. He is an excellent proponent and exponent of our history, culture and way of life, which is exactly what should be expected from the future monarch.”
Charles would certainly be good for India.
|Scarlet scorn: Kate Middleton
Poor Kate Middleton, the nice girl who overnight became Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, on marrying Prince William, will be driven mad if she has to dress to please some women columnists.
She was taken to task by the Daily Mail’s Amanda Platell who did not approve of the Alexander McQueen outfit (in pic) she wore to the royal barge for the Thames pageant.
“Did Kate really have to steal the show in her scarlet dress?” asked the headline. “The rest of the Royal party opted for a muted palette... but she stood out.”
“Oh Kate, what were you thinking?” asked Platell, who would probably have slated Kate for not wearing something more colourful had she chosen something more muted.
She wrote: “While the rest of the royal party sensibly opted for a muted palette, determined not to outshine the woman at the centre of it all, the Duchess of Cambridge opted for a scarlet dress so bold and bright it just screamed: ‘Look at me!’ For a moment, she could have been confused with the Chelsea Pensioners’ guard of honour. But, no, it was Kate in an outfit as striking as it was inappropriate.” She acknowledged: “Yes, it drew gasps from the crowd, but that was precisely the problem. For if ever there was an occasion when Kate should have opted for a more subdued look, then this was surely it.”
Platell pinned the blame on Kate’s commoner family. “I blame her family. Not the Royals, but the Middletons. Apparently, the Middleton women, now a bewildering presence at all royal occasions, had decided to do a ‘red, white and blue’ theme between sisters and mother, with Carole in white, Pippa in blue and Kate in crimson.”
If there is much more of this, Kate, like Diana, the mother-in-law she never met, risks becoming unhinged.
Everyone noticed how Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was allowed to sit next to the Queen on the carriage back to Buckingham Palace. What does that mean other than that the Queen agrees with Charles that his wife should one day be Queen Camilla?
Meanwhile, Camilla should wear the green silk sari presented to her as a wedding gift by the dabbahwallahs of Mumbai when she became Biwi No. 2 to Charles.
“I will wear it in my own time,” she told me once.
This is jumping the gun a little but it would certainly be a historic first if she was saving it for something like Charles’s coronation.
The Soviets were accused of airbrushing their leaders out of photographs once they were ousted from power. Something similar seems to have happened in London where in all the montage of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne, most senior members of the royal family got a look-in — apart from the most important figure of them all, Princess Diana.
He had missed her at his wedding, William admitted in an interview. “It was the one time since she’s died where I’ve thought to myself it would be fantastic if she was here. And just how sad really, for her more than anything, not being able to see it. I think she would have loved the day and I think, hopefully, she’d be very proud of us both for the day. I’m just very sad that she’s never going to get a chance to meet Kate.”
I am sure Diana will be restored once William ascends the throne.
| Also served: The Queen with Kamalesh Sharma (right) and his wife
Harbinder Singh Rana, who has been outed as a “sex offender”, was not the only Indian on the royal barge during the Thames pageant.
Kamalesh Sharma, the Commonwealth secretary-general, and his wife Babli, were invited, too.
He is now serving his second term as Commonwealth secretary-general, so the couple have been living in London since 2004 when Sharma arrived as Indian high commissioner.
During the thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral, Kamalesh read a brief tribute to the Queen — he seemed to have either a cold or a frog in his throat.
Later, he hosted a lunch for the Queen on behalf of the Commonwealth. Sadly, there was no chicken tikka masala, the British national dish. The dignitaries were served “a Brie and avocado terrine followed by wild sea bass, then an apple crumble soufflé, apple pie ice cream and caramelised apple. The meal was washed down with South African wines”.
Fake M.F. Husain paintings have surfaced on the market since he passed away in London on June 9, 2011, at the age of 95.
India’s most famous painter of recent decades has left behind a rich artistic legacy. More than that, his many friends in Britain remember the slightly eccentric MF with much affection.
His final resting place is Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey, a long way from Mumbai where he began by painting film posters.