Charles will one day be our king. But is he fit for the role? Dr George Venturini explores this question in this six-part series.
We do not expect the state to moralise, to nanny, to over-protect, to make our personal decisions for us. But we do expect to apply the shared resources of society to the interests of its members, and that fundamentally includes helping those who need it.
What about the freeloaders? There are doubtless some. If identified, they can be required to do their share. But their numbers are assuredly small: it takes a large lack of self-respect to be a parasite. (C. Grayling, The challenge of things – Thinking through trouble times (London 2015) at 162 [Emphasis added])
Last November, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrived in Australia to be feted again by crowds while sampling the fine local wines, cheeses and seafood at South Australia’s Barossa Valley, before attending Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canberra. It was Charles’ fifteenth visit – a ‘Royal visit’ for many Australians.
Who would pay?
Prince Charles’s lavish lifestyle is funded directly from, or at the expense of ‘home’ public purse. His travel costs, part of his press office and the costs of maintaining Clarence House, his official residence, are paid for by taxpayers through the Sovereign Support Grant, while his round the clock security – likely to cost tens of millions each year – comes out of the Metropolitan Police’s budget. The costs of Charles’ official visits to various parts of the ‘home’ country are also borne by local council taxpayers. Charles also receives an annual income of around 18 million pounds from the Duchy of Cornwall, a portfolio of land, property and assets held in trust for the heir to the throne. Such funds could pay for public services. Charles may further claim over 2 million pounds from the taxpayers to pay for foreign travel, public relations and administrative support. The Duchy has not, and never has been, the personal property of Prince Charles. He is not entitled to the Duchy’s capital or capital profits and is only eligible to receive its surplus while occupying a constitutional role. The Duchy of Cornwall does not pay corporation tax – despite it being a separate legal entity – an arrangement which the public accounts committee has demanded the government justify. Thanks to a deal with the government, Charles offsets the cost of butlers, personal dressers and valets against his personal tax bill.
It is an anachronistic and unfair arrangement which deprives the treasury of tens of millions of pounds every year.
Meanwhile, on 25 November 2015, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that the Queen’s annual grant is set to rise to 42.8 million pounds – which is nonetheless only a fraction of the 334 million pounds that careful search shows the monarchy costs.
Charles has a particular taste for luxury travel. After the 2011 riots he billed the taxpayers 20,000 pounds to visit Tottenham, Lambeth Hackney and Croydon by private jet. In the same year Prince Charles and Camilla charged the taxpayer 30,000 pounds for a return flight from Clarence House to Balmoral for a private four day break on which no public engagements were undertaken.
Sensitivity is the mark of ‘the Royal Family’: nurses who cared for two cousins of the Queen who were born with learning difficulties have spoken of how the sisters were never visited by the Royal Family during decades in an institution. Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, nieces to the Queen Mother, hence cousins to the Queen, were sent to the Royal Earlswood Hospital – described as an ‘asylum for idiots’ – in Redhill, Surrey, in 1941, aged 15 and 22 respectively. Hospital staff interviewed for a Channel 4 documentary said that they were not aware of them ever receiving visits, birthday cards or Christmas cards over the years. They described how Nerissa, who died in 1986 aged 66, had no members of her family other than her sister at her funeral and was buried in a ‘pauper’s grave.’
Hospital carers described how Nerissa and Katherine would stand up and curtsy or salute when they saw members of the Royal Family on the television or even heard the national anthem. A nurse said that the staff could not “contain the excitement” of the sisters when the Prince of Wales married Diana, Princess of Wales, in July 1981. Another, who cared for the sisters for more than a decade, was one of the few people to attend Nerissa’s funeral. And another added: “There was no connection with the royalty. That is no credit to them. They could have given her a very lavish funeral. But they didn’t, and she had a pauper’s grave.”
There was some public noise in 1987 when it was revealed that Nerissa and Katherine had been hidden away in the Royal Earlswood for more than 40 years. Burke’s Peerage, the guide to aristocratic family trees, had recorded the sisters as having died in 1940 and 1961.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment about the documentary. (The Sydney Morning Herald, Queen’s cousins, paupers graves, 14 November 2011).
Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales is the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II. Known alternatively in Scotland as Duke of Rothesay and in South West England as Duke of Cornwall, he is the longest-serving heir apparent in what is commonly – and quite loosely – referred to as ‘British’ history, having held the position since 1952. He is also the oldest person to be next-in-line to the throne since Sophia of Hanover – the heir presumptive to Queen Anne, who died in 1714 at the age of 83.
Upon Sophia’s death, her eldest son Elector George Louis of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1660–1727) became heir presumptive in her place, and weeks later, succeeded Anne as George I. Hanover, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – they were all insignificant German self-aggrandising petty bosses who maintain the predatory tradition of the early Angles.
The word Britain is a corruption of the word Brython, which was borrowed from the Welsh language to distinguish between this purely ethno-linguistic meaning and the word Briton. It comes from the terms Bruthin or Priteni, which were used in classical times in geographer’s texts incorporating fragments of the travel writings of Pytheas, a Greek geographer who made a voyage of exploration around what are today referred to as the British Isles between 330 and 320 B.C.E. None of Pytheas’ writings remain, but writers during the time of the Roman Empire made much reference to them. Pytheas called the islands collectively ἁι Βρεττανιαι (hai Brettaniai), which has been translated as the Brittanic Isles, and the peoples of these islands of Prettanike were called the Πρεττανοί (Prettanoi), Priteni, Pritani or Pretani. The group of those islands included Ireland, which was referred to as Ierne – Insula sacra ‘sacred island’ as the Greeks interpreted it ‘inhabited by the Hiberni’ – gens hiernorum, and Britain as insula Albionum – ‘island of the Albions’.
The term Pritani may have reached Pytheas from the Gauls, who possibly used it as their term for the inhabitants of the islands.
As Stephen Allen wrote in Lords of battle: The world of the Celtic warrior (Oxford 2007) at 174, Pritani or Pretani is generally believed to mean ‘painted’ or rather ‘tatooed’, very likely referring to the use by them of the blue dye extracted from [dyer’s] woad. … It is more likely to be a nickname given them by outsiders … It may be compared with the word Picti … which was used by the Romans in the third century C.E.
The Latin word Picti – first occurred in a formal public speech, a eulogy, not expected to be critical – written in nowadays Autun in Gaule Lyonnaise by Eumenius in 297 C.E., and is taken to mean ‘painted or tattooed people’ – from Latin pingere ‘to paint’; pictus, ‘painted’, or Greek ‘πυκτίς’ pyktis, ‘picture’. As Sally M. Foster noted in Picts, Gaels and Scots (London 1996) at 11, “Much ink has been spilt over what the ancient writers meant by Picts, but it seems to be a generic term for people living north of the Forth–Clyde isthmus who raided the Roman Empire.” The imagery was cinematographically rendered in Braveheart (1995).
The old name – appearing also as pihtas and pehtas – gave the modern Scots form Pechts and the Welsh word Fichti. In writings from Ireland, the name Cruthin, Cruthini, Cruthni, Cruithni or Cruithini – in modern Irish: Cruithne – was used to refer both to the Picts and to another group of people who lived alongside the Ulaid. The Ulaid – a plural noun, indicating an ethnonym rather than a geographic term – gave their name to the province of Ulster. The precise origin of the word is uncertain: it may be from the Norse name Uladztir, which is an adaptation of Ulaidh and tir, the Irish for ‘land’. It has been suggested to have derived from Uladh plus the Norse suffix ster – meaning place, which was common in the Shetland Islands and Norway.
Nothing said so far could be confused with the Angles – in Latin Anglii. They were one of the many Germanic hordes which invaded Britannia in the post-Roman period. They founded several of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, and their name is the root of the name England. The name comes from the district of Angeln, an area located on the Baltic shore of what is now Schleswig-Holstein, the most northern state of Germany.
Competing with the Angles in the invasion were the Saxons, an aggregation of invading northern Germanic tribes which formed part of the merged group of Anglo-Saxons. They were joined by the Jutes, originally from the Jutland peninsula of present days Denmark, in the waves of invasions which, from the late fourth century onwards, either displaced, absorbed or disbanded the native Celtic peoples. Angles, Saxons, Frisians and Jutes eventually organised the first united Kingdom of England from the tenth century – when it emerged from various, smaller kingdoms. The situation remained so until the respective ‘parliaments’ of Scotland and England – however limitedly representative – passed the Acts of Union of 1707 which would form the present United Kingdom of Great Britain. The Scots – the original Βρεττανιαι (Brettaniai) or Πρεττανοί (Prettanoi), continued to refer to people ‘south of the border’ as Sassenach, an extension of the low German Sassen.
The languages spoken by such Germanic peoples were part of the West Germanic branch of the Germanic language family. They consisted of dialects from the Ingvaeonic grouping, spoken mainly around the North Sea coast, in regions which lie within modern north-west Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.
So, strictly speaking, the Irish, Scots and Welsh are British. The English who arrived during the fourth century C.E. German immigrants. And it shows in the immediate provenance of Charles: the son of Philippos, Prince of Greece and Denmark, a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg – later Battenberg, and of Elizabeth Hanover, Saxe-Coburg und Gotha – later, for convenience, Windsor – married to a Battenberg.
To be continued. Tomorrow … The local scene
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at email@example.com
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