Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Tony Deyal | A right royal mess

Published:Saturday | October 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The phrase 'catching your royal' in no way refers to Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, although she did catch and seems intent on keeping hers. No splitting heirs for her, she's providing them in really rapid succession.

Sarah Ferguson caught hers but released him, maybe because she or he or had both crossed the limit. Now American actress Meghan Markle gives the impression that she is enjoying catching hers and has no problems being harried by the paparazzi. We in the Caribbean catch everything first, including hurricanes, and our 'catch-as-catch-can' lives means that we are prone to catching fits, our royal and, in Trinidad, even our grandmother, or 'nen-nen'. While in Jamaica, the port was royal, in Trinidad, even the jail is Royal.

Catching your royal might be appropriately applied to our dealings with a particular regional bank that is headquartered in Canada and which has outdone itself in how much it now charges its Caribbean customers for simple services. I suppose you can call it royalties or even royal fees, but the irony is that the royal bank's explanation for its rising rates and declining services is that if we think we are catching our royal, they are in worse shape and catching their royal more than we are.

They might be passing the buck figuratively, but we are the ones whose bucks are literally passing from us to them and we're lining up for the pleasure of doing it. No battle royal here, we have already been conquered. Are they insulting our intelligence? It seems to be a prerogative of royals of all nationalities to do that and more, especially to those who incur their wrath or displeasure.

For example, Queen Victoria's consort, her beloved Prince Albert, was not very happy with his son, Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), who had a reputation as a playboy. Albert said of his son, "His intellect is of no more use than a pistol packed in the bottom of a trunk in the robber infested Apennines." Edward (the present Queen's grandfather) was a famous womaniser. When he died, his wife, Queen Alexandra, told one of her courtiers, "Now at least I know where he is."

Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, was even harder on her son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, "My dear firstborn is the greatest ass, and the greatest liar and the greatest canaille and the greatest beast in the whole world and I most heartily wish he were out of it." Another Prince of Wales who became King George IV was already, unknown to his parents, married privately to a Mrs Fitzherbert. When told that they were arranging a marriage for him with a suitable royal bride, he said angrily, "Damn the North! And damn the South! And damn Wellington! The question is, how am I going to get rid of this damned Princess of Wales."




Actually, when King George first kissed his bride, Caroline, he immediately commanded one of his servants, "I am unwell. Bring me a glass of brandy." Henry VIII's response when he first beheld Anne of Cleves who became his fourth wife and outlived all the others was, "You have sent me a Flanders mare." The marriage was never consummated.

While royals have been rough on other people, including their own children, people have been much harder on them, even to the point of being quite savage. Poet and writer Walter Savage Landor wrote about the various Georges who were kings of England: "George the First was always reckoned Vile, but viler George the Second; And what mortal ever heard Any good from George the Third? When from Earth the Fourth descended (God be praised!), the Georges ended."

George the Third became mentally ill and his behaviour left writer Edmund Clerihew Bentley to rhyme, "George the Third, Ought never to have occurred. One can only wonder At so grotesque a blunder." George the Fourth was deemed no better: "A noble, nasty course he ran, Superbly filthy and fastidious; He was the world's 'first gentleman', and made the appellation hideous."

Horace Walpole also took to verse when Frederick, Prince of Wales, deemed an "ass" by his mother and a "changeling" or "no true child of mine" by his father the King, died from an infection. It is said that he was "open-handed, with an easy manner" and had a certain charm and a taste for sport, gambling and women, and though his command of English was uncertain and he looked like a frog, the English, on the whole, approved of him. Walpole had no time or use for Frederick and wrote, "Here lies Fred, Who was alive and now is dead: Had it been his father, I had much rather; Had it been his brother, Better than another; Had it been his sister, No one would have missed her; Had it been the whole generation, Better for the nation: But since 'tis only Fred, Who was alive and is dead - There's no more to be said."

Queen Victoria was a completely different story. Although author and playwright George Bernard Shaw quipped, "Nowadays, a parlour maid as ignorant as Queen Victoria was when she came to the throne would be classed as mentally defective" she remains the royal of royals. H.G. Wells made the point, "Queen Victoria was like a great paperweight that for half a century sat upon men's minds, and when she was removed, their ideas began to blow all over the place haphazardly." Yet, despite her "We are not amused" when told a tasteless joke by one of her grandchildren, she was known to enjoy a right royal mix-up. Her Majesty was lunching with Admiral Foley who explained the fate of the HMS Eurydice, a frigate that had sunk and was salvaged. Afterwards, Queen Victoria asked the admiral about her friend, the admiral's sister. He, being hard of hearing, replied loudly, "Well, Ma'am, I am going to have her turned over, take a good look at her bottom, and have it well scraped."

The Queen, it is said, put down her knife and fork, hid her face in her handkerchief, and laughed until the tears ran down her face. I wish I could do that with the Canadian royals, but that is a battle royal in its own right.

- Tony Deyal was last seen saying that the only thing worse than catching your royal is being caught by them.