Royals – and, for that matter, all aristocrats – are supposed to have money, not to make money. If they do, they inevitably embark on the slippery slope.
Doug Saunders reported in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail that Prince Charles was so unpopular that parliament may decide to skip him when the time comes and anoint his son, Prince William, instead. One of the reasons, Saunders implied, was that Charles was the owner of a $50 million business empire.
No doubt the proceeds of this empire are to be devoted to the many causes close to the prince’s heart – “green” causes, charitable causes and, presumably, architectural causes. No one expects him to take any normal capitalist delight in profits. However, money is money and, though it is proverbially “fungible,” royalty is not supposed to make any.
One’s heart goes out to the prince. What is he supposed to do with his time? His great grandfather Edward VII, while waiting for the throne, spent it womanizing. Let us not think of that subject in connection with Charles. Edward VII never made any money, for any cause, except at the races and playing cards. Perhaps that is why he became one of the most popular monarchs England has ever had. Nor did Charles’ great uncle, Edward VIII, make money while being the fashion model of the world and setting the scene for the Abdication. Making money is a sordid occupation reserved for commoners. It is incompatible with the mystery that is supposed to imbue the crown.
The job of being heir to the throne is a lose–lose proposition anyway. Think of Prince Hal, wasting his time with Falstaff until the great moment arrived when he became Henry V. Think of the last dauphin, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Who knows how he spent his time while waiting for the succession and/or the guillotine?
Charles may be well advised to yield the throne to his son, William, and to devote himself happily to making money, for any – even for the most sordid –capitalist cause.