By Dave Simpson, columnist
As monarchs go, normal folks like us can probably relate to the new King of England.
His mother was so perfect in so many ways that all you could do was look on in amazement. The only criticism I had was those Corgis. Make me King and I’m going down to the London Pound and getting at least two black Labrador Retrievers (the Cadillac of Dogs), maybe more. No small, yappy dogs for this monarch.
There was precious little to criticize in Queen Elizabeth II.
Who, on the other hand, hasn’t felt King Charles’ pain over the years? He’s had a rough road to the throne.
The poor guy had to wait around for 74 years before he got the job he wanted. His first day on the job comes nine years after most of us retire, go on Social Security, and find a senior coffee group at McDonalds. He spent what for most of us would be an extended career going to teas, dressing up in crazy getups, and wondering how long mom’s going to be sitting on the throne. (Admit it. You laugh at that expression just like I do. Just like you think of the Lone Ranger when you hear the William Tell Overture. Don’t deny it.)
As he worked the rope line at Buckingham Palace last Friday, shaking hands and accepting well-wishes from a crowd of his subjects, the guy finally looked happy – the first time I remember seeing him look that way. Until now, he always looked like a guy waiting for a bus that wouldn’t be arriving for years. Who wouldn’t be relieved at finally nailing down the job? Too bad it came the day his mother died.
Along the way, he’s been through so much. Many of us have had a marriage blow up. Charles, however, had the added pain of seeing every sordid detail reported in screaming headlines by vicious, man-eating British tabloid reporters and headline writers. Adding to the pain, most of us identified with his beautiful late ex-wife. And we shook our heads when his long-running relationship with the less stunning Camilla became public, with, once again, every embarrassing detail reported in the tabloids under 60-point headlines.
It got so bad – with Charles failing marriage, a palace fire and a brother who hung out with Jeffrey Epstein – that the Queen called 1992 their “annus horribilis.” (Really bad year.) Ouch.
When it came to news coverage, Charles was always ridden hard and put away wet.
Likewise, many of us, like Charles, have had one kid who takes our advice and always does what we think they ought to do. And another kid who figures what we want is the last thing he or she will ever do. One follows in your footsteps, the other goes in the opposite direction, You get so you don’t give the latter kid advice, hoping he or she will stumble on what you want, thinking it isn’t what you want at all.
Charles has his William. And his Harry.
Then when they get married, the one who takes your advice marries someone just as perfect as they are (think Kate), and the one that doesn’t take your advice marries someone who makes him or her even more independent and ornery (think Meghan). In the military, they call that a force multiplier.
Add to that the fact that Queen Elizabeth had a soft spot for Harry’s independence, and once again, you have to feel sympathy for Charles’ royal migraines.
The new King wants to cut expenses, and not pay royal salaries to every Tom, Dick and Mountbatten that comes along. We can relate to the pain of cutting expenses.
And then there’s this. Charles gets to live in plenty of swell palaces with fine art and antique furniture, he’s got horses, carriages, and fancy limousines to cart him around in royal splendor, and he’s got lifetime tenure. But there’s no escaping male pattern baldness, and this king, and the next one in particular, both have a healthy dose of that.
Like many of us.
The new King should get the benefit of the doubt, at least for a while. He’s been through plenty already.