Imagine being born with an innate sense of superiority; not just a ‘cash money’ sense of superiority, but the royal kind; the kind that comes with great responsibility and — in most cases — a luxurious lifestyle. Historically, this meant that while you lived in a palace, rode in a carriage and had your privates washed for you*, you were also ignored by your parents, lacking certain social skills and in constant fear of being usurped by an ambitious relation — or your dissatisfied populace. Is it any wonder, then, that King Henry VIII insisted on having six wives, King George III was committed to a straightjacket, or that Queen Elizabeth I was often heard making the threat: “I will make you shorter by the head”? These people, deprived of a regular existence, became deranged.
In modern times — in the Western world, at least — the threat of revolution and treason has subsided, as has the importance placed on the monarchy. Accordingly, as the British Royal Family loses its relevance, it would be fair to assume that the drama would abate as well. Not so! Sure, we can see how stylish and ‘human’ the blue-blooded are when they grace the covers of magazines. But those brilliant smiles and receding hairlines are unable to conceal one indisputable fact: despite their dignified upbringing, they love a scandal. Take, for example, Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, who ran off with a Portuguese trapeze artist; or the incomparable Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson, who drunkenly betrayed her ex-husband to the media; and, of course, let’s not forget Kate Middleton’s uninspiring taste in fashion — all have committed crimes that have lost them the respect of their people. Although, at least they have drawn the line at inbreeding: if you ever want to feel normal, just look up King Charles II of Spain, whose grandmother was also his aunt. Yet, however disturbing their behaviour might be, we will never tire of the tales of royal shortcomings. Perhaps we find it reassuring that these people, despite all their pomp and ceremony, are just like the rest of us — sans privacy.
* As seen in Coming To America.
Image: George Condo (‘Insane Queen’, 2006).