Your ancient essayist will be on medical leave for an indeterminate period. He has suffered a sledge hammer blow to his lustful heart and his dainty psyche. Recovery is an iffy thing, and rightly so, when the depth of the damage is considered.

The old essayist is looking now for a secluded sanatorium where psychiatric intensive care will always be available. The place that comes to mind is the Pope’s quarters at Gemelli Hospital in Rome. Now that John Paul has gone back to the Vatican, his suite should be available. If a prolonged stay is planned, as it would be in my case, Rome would be the ideal place to seek rest and recuperation. Being in the Holy City may also be rewarding for my spiritual development as plans to be an angel remain in my aspirations. Waving to crowds of on-lookers from the window of the suite is made to order for my talents.

The attack on my heart and psyche were brought on by dispatches from London that say quite openly that our beloved Prince Charles of the English royal family, has decided to marry his long time female companion, thus ending an affair that has gone on since 1970. In those 35 years, Charles and his close friend Camilla, married other people and produced children. In 1995, Camilla was divorced. Charles’ divorce from Princess Diana occurred in the following year.

Glenn Frankel of the Washington Post writes from London that Charles “plans to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, his long time lover and the woman who was part of a tangled royal triangle of scandal and passion that contributed to the break up of his marriage to Diana.” Very hard to believe!

Frankel called Camilla Charles’ “lover.” This is shocking, shocking news. None of us here had any idea of what was going on. It is difficult to believe even now. Didn’t they know how the Anglican Church feels about “lovers” of the same or opposite sex?

That is only the beginning. Sarah Lyall, who has reported from London for the New York Times for several years, wrote a story with the headline, “Charles calls end to the affair.” A head line on a continuing page stated, “The end of a long affair, wedlock now for Charles.”

Ms. Lyall and the Times put together a chronology of their 35 year affair. It is called, “Friend and Lovers.” None of the Americans had any idea that love had anything to do with their affair. Shocked only begins to describe my reaction. Holding hands is one thing, but being lovers is more than an American can bear.

Everyone knows that Charles has a terminal case of daffiness. No one on this side of the Atlantic could imagine him having the intellect to preside over such a thing as a royal affair. The patriots who people the
born-again Bush administration must be as shocked as your old essayist, but they have easy access to Gods and saints and martyrs which makes it easier for them to understand what Charles and Camilla have pulled off for 35 years.

Last fall, a secretary/stenographer on Charles’ staff innocently inquired about her chance for advancement. She was only asking for a chance to make another few pounds per week. Charles must have had a tiff with Camilla when he wrote these lines in answer to the secretary’s request:

“What is wrong with everyone now-a-days? Why do they all seem to think they’re qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities. People believe they can all be pop stars, high court judges, and brilliant TV personalities . . . without ever putting in the necessary work or having the natural ability?”

Everyone knows that Charles only became a Prince after having “put in the necessary work.”

It may be that Camilla whispered to Charlie that he should have told off the secretary/stenographer long ago. Whatever Camilla had to say, the British press hooted. It may be that the fiery letter from Charles persuaded him to end the long time affair with Camilla. While that may be the case, there is no record that the secretary got her raise or was shown the path to advancement on Charles’ staff.

My long association with the Brits has led me to conclude that upper class Englishmen and the royals always spoke in moderate tones that deprecated their standing in British society. But when it came to Diana and Camilla, moderate tones and self deprecation were long gone. In 1996, the year of her divorce from Charles, Diana said of Camilla, “There were three of us in this marriage. So it was a bit crowded.” How shocking. We had no idea. Sarah Lyall wrote, “Even those unable to forgive Charles for cheating on the Princess of Wales can take a certain comfort in knowing that if he had to do it, at least he took the counter-intuitive route, choosing someone older, wrinklier and less svelte than his wife.”

Wrinklier? Sarah Lyall has been reporting from London so long that she uses adjectives like the Brits do. Wrinklier, yes indeed.

Diana also referred to Camilla as “the Rottweiler” which the dictionary tells us is a powerful dog of German origin often used as guard dogs. For her part, Camilla referred to Diana as “that ridiculous creature.” This came after she had recommended Diana as wife material to her lover, Prince Charles. Pretty convoluted stuff, right?

When Ms. Lyall referred to Camilla as “older and wrinklier” than Diana, one has to wonder if our beloved Charles suffers from an Oedipus complex which compels young men to pursue women who resemble their mother. One look at the photograph when Charles announced his engagement may lead casual observers to conclude that Camilla could be his mother’s twin sister or her aunt.

There is one other aspect of the engagement photograph having to do with Charles’s costume. For reasons unknown to the rest of the civilized world, Charlie wore a dinner jacket with crimson lapels and crimson cuffs on the sleeves. There are those who say that when he wears that costume, he looks like a bellhop or an usher in a theater. For all we know, the Prince of Wales may have bought the jacket in a second hand store or at an Anglican rummage sale. A photograph is attached.

To complete this report on royal conduct, we know now that after leaving Charlie, Diana took up with Dodi Al Fayed, the son of the owner of Harrod’s Department Store in London. Dodi was an Egyptian who was employed only as a playboy. It is possible that if Dodi and Diana ever married, he would then assume the burdensome duties of a member of the English royalty opening trade shows and writing put-down letters to secretaries who would like to advance in their work. Ah, but Diana and Dodi were both killed in an automobile accident, so we will never know what might have happened.

Earlier in this essay, it was reported that Charles, the Prince of Wales, suffered from a terminal case of daffiness. It appears that Charles’ son, Harry, has inherited his father’s penchant for goofy and hurtful behavior. Harry is 20 years old and was schooled at Eton, the foremost prep school in all of England. In short, at his age and with his schooling, Harry should have some understanding of his place in the English scheme of things. But that is clearly not the case.

One of his upper class schoolmates threw a costume party with the theme of something like “Colonials and Natives.” Harry’s older brother William went to the party as a bear. But old Harry showed up dressed as a trooper in the German Afrika Korps with a swastika on his left arm. Every veteran of the British Army must have fainted at the sight of Harry dressed as a member of Hitler’s Army. Field Marshal Erwin Johnnes Eugen Rommel who commanded the Afrika Korps greatly disliked Hitler and the Nazi party, thus, no swastikas ever adorned Rommel’s troops. But old Harry wore one. Shocking is it not? And what did his costume as a German soldier have to do with the theme of the party, “Colonials and Natives”? Nothing that can be discerned. But we said Harry was goofy. Guilty as charged.

After a debate among the Royals, old Harry issued a two line apology. He refused to take a trip to the Holocaust Memorial in Auschwitz, Poland which had been suggested. Harry said his semi-apology was enough and presumably, his father acquiesced in his refusal to learn about the Nazis.

Frank Rich, who writes a weekly column in the Arts section of the New York Times said Harry was a “Twit.” My upbringing as a closeted,
born-again monastic was without reference to “a silly annoying person: a fool,” which is the definition of a twit.

All things considered, when it comes to twitiness, the acorns did not fall far from the tree. Twit could apply equally to Prince Harry and his father, Charles the Prince of Wales. But in any case, William and Harry were equally ignorant of their father becoming Mrs. Parker Bowles’ lover and companion as were the colonial Americans. They were as shocked as your old writer of essays.

By this time, it must be obvious that your old essayist finds it debilitating to wrestle with anything having to do with the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Windsor) family. This old observer had no idea that Camilla and Charles were lovers. We simply thought that their love of fox hunting and wearing Scottish costumes was all there was to it. How wrong we were. And how shocking it all is.

During my absence at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, you may be certain that its patients are well fed. Because of my love for peasant food, the Gemella kitchen has ordered great quantities of polenta, spaghetti, anchovies, spumoni and tortonis. Gemelli authorities have been spared the details of what has brought me to such a low state of health. Suffice it to say that the Italians who run Gemelli Hospital would be stunned to know that English Princes and Countesses have affairs and actually become lovers. They would be shocked, shocked, shocked. It is up to me to preserve the innocence of the Italian society and the medical profession.

In the meantime, you may see me waving from my window over the pious crowds gathered below my window in Rome. My waving is pretty good. Perhaps that is what the higher authorities intended for my life’s work. But certainly they did not intend for me to know about royal affairs and lovers. As the Brits say, “NEV-AH!”

February 18, 2005

Post Script:
The title of this piece, “Birds do it – etc” has been lifted shamelessly from Cole Porter, an American composer. It comes from Paris, his first Broadway production.

While your old soldier-essayist is being treated at Gemelli Hospital in Rome, my affairs will be administered by James D for Dog Horney of Clayton, Georgia. He is an old American soldier who specializes in paying electric, gas and property tax bills. He will be attending the Camilla-Charles wedding and will give the groom away.

Woof. That jacket.

It strikes me as odd that we have a 68-year-old prince; it seems oxymoronic.

In site-related news, I haven’t actually been able to create new category tags for years due to a problem with WordPress that I can’t fix. Usually that’s fine, but we’re long overdue for a “Royals” or “Windsors” tag, which would be home to at least a dozen essays. I think once all the essays are published, I’ll make a full site backup and then do some administrative work to make it more searchable.

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