Congratulations, Baby Windsor. You have just been born a subject of Her Britannic Majesty (as it used to say on the passports) and have therefore won life’s lottery. Actually, given the state of the nation and the economy, maybe ‘won life’s dog-eared scratchcard’ is more the phrase juste. Still, you’ve done amazingly well. Thanks to the freakiest odds imaginable you have, merely by the accident of being conceived by the right couple, leapfrogged to the covetable position of third in line to the British throne.
So that’s the good news. The bad news is that it comes with a certain amount of baggage. Problem one: you’re a constititutional monarch. This means that when eventually your dad pops his clogs, you won’t be able to do nearly so much of the cool stuff as you might have done had you been born to the same position 500 years earlier. You won’t be able to have people’s heads chopped off on a whim, nor expand your territory by force, nor up the tax rate whenever you’re feeling skint. All those big decisions are taken by the government of the day. (Well, by the EU, actually, but don’t worry about that detail: it will have ceased to exist long before you inherit the throne.) And no matter how stupid and useless it is — as it will be — you’ll have to go through the motions of pretending when you read out its crap policy plans at the beginning of each parliament that they’re, like, a really great idea and exactly what you would have done had you been in charge. (Which, sadly, sorry to rub this one in, you’re not.)
Then there’s the money and property thing. At first it might strike you as impressive: the big house in London (a bit grim and heavy inside but within walking distance of the Caprice, the Wolseley and Harvey Nicks), the holiday homes in Norfolk and the New Republic of Windfarmia, plus, of course, all the other dosh and assets accumulated by your ancestors. Problem is, it’s not technically yours. Thanks to some ghastly lefty stitch-up long before your time, the government gets to rifle through your laundry bills and decide how much you can reasonably live on. And it gets worse: even though the nation you serve gets by far the better end of this financial arrangement, still you’ll be perpetually berated by ignorant chipsters as a scrounger.
Imagine: interminable dancing displays; rictus grins and ludicrous headgear in bakeries, building sites and factories; your weekly ordeal with a dork of a prime minister; endless tedious state banquets where you can’t ever get drunk, pick your nose or let slip a crafty silent one. And yet you’re expected to feel, like, grateful for your privilege…
Still, there’s always Family. For better or worse, the Firm (as you call yourselves) are the only ones who’ll understand what you’re going through. So make the most of them, grab their advice while you still can. There are many of us out here rooting, praying, for both your royal great-grandparents to make it well past the ton. That’ll give you just enough time to pick up a few tips on tact and diplomacy from your great-grandad Phil, and Cheltenham and Aintree from your great-grandma. Make the Queen, especially, your role model. She’s probably best monarch we’ve ever had: wise, judicious, inscrutable.
Unlike your dear old grandpa Charles. Unfortunately, we know all too well what he thinks (on climate change, on organic food, on architecture, on becoming a ‘Defender of Faith’…) but the great thing is that you can use him like an anti-Queen: if he holds something to be true, just do the opposite. Also, he’ll be great to take the mickey out of. From about the age of seven onwards, you’ll be able to bait him every day with the sentence beginning, ‘Grandpa, you know how you said in Rio we had just 100 months left to save the world?’
As for the rest of your rellies, you know what they say: you can choose your friends but not your family — and at least they’ll never leave you less than royally entertained. At state occasions, you’ll be photographed waving a lot with theatrical great uncle Eddie, spivvy great uncle Andy, fierce but rock-solid great aunt Anne. Then there’s naughty Uncle Harry who’ll spoil you rotten and teach you how to light farts and what not to wear at fancy-dress parties; and your various first cousins once removed, who’ll teach you how to be quite normal and will probably end up producing about the only people you can safely hang out with without having your every secret blurted all over the internet.
Oh dear. I hope I haven’t made it all sound like too much of a poisoned chalice you’ve just been given, through absolutely no fault of your own. Anyway, cheer up, it could be worse. At least, unlike Spain’s or Greece’s monarchs, you’ve still got a throne to inherit; and at least, unlike Sweden’s, we’re not yet so burdened by the equality thing that you have to go round acting like you work in Ikea….
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