Something Familial, Something Peculiar

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II listens as her son Prince Charles delivers a speech on the stage at the end of the Golden Jubilee pop concert in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London June 3, 2002.
There is, believe it or not, a lady who runs a Tapas bar in San Francisco who is 66th in line to the British throne. She was brought up in Brazil, but her origins are Norwegian and she doesn’t speak much English. This may not be a disadvantage because the British Royal Family is certainly Royal but not entirely British.

King Harold of Norway, for example, is 58th in line. There are connections among the dispossessed Royals of Rumania, Yugoslavia and Prussia; plus dozens of Habsburgs, Holzhausens and Hohenzollerons.

So you could, if you were so minded, put the British Royal family down as Germans. Her Majesty the Queen is married to a Greek, Prince Phillip, famous for his peculiar sense of humour. The other day, on tour with his wife, he told a bemused woman who was clutching a dog and waving a British flag that they were now breeding special eating dogs as company for anorexics. He chuckled. Nobody else did. And the Society for Sufferers of the eating disorder was outraged.

Phillip’s son, Prince Charles, is heir to the throne. He’s famous for two things. Being unhappily married to the late Princess Diana, who wasn’t a proper Princess until she married him, and talking to flowers.

Peculiarity is perfectly normal in the British Royal Family. They are even painstakingly peculiar about their public appearances. You don’t catch the Queen kissing anybody, not even her nearest and dearest. THEY can kiss HER. They can bow low and kiss her hand, or peck her on the cheek. But Her Majesty by long tradition doesn’t indulge. Will she today? Late this afternoon, the Royal Family will come out onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace and there’s wild speculation that Her Majesty may plant a discreet kiss on the face of her son thus publicly anointing him as the King to be. Does any of this matter? No of course it doesn’t. But it is peculiarly British.