By Dr George Venturini
A conga line of bludgers: Prince Charles
Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales will turn seventy next November. 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.
Nothing said so far could be confused with The Angles – in Latin Anglii – 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. The invaders who arrived during the fourth century c.e. were 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.
At a time in life when most people seek retirement, Prince Charles is still waiting to go to work – as king. One could put it another way: having done nothing for seventy years, Charles is looking forward to whatever ‘work’ the ‘Royals’ do.
Prince Charles was educated at Cheam School, Headley, Hampshire and Gordonstoun School, Moray, Scotland. His father, Prince Philip, had attended Gordonstoun as a child.
Some observations may be à propos Prince Charles, as the heir to the throne, and may be extended to Prince Andrew, as the fourth in line of succession.
At the disastrous insistence of his father – a notorious boorish Germanic disciplinarian – Prince Charles was not given a conventional education; he was sent to Gordonstoun, which is not a noted centre of intellectual excellence.
The combination of bullying and toadyism that he encountered at that German education establishment, set in the rigour of the Scottish Highlands, will hardly have given him an accurate idea of his own capabilities, and indeed he left the school.
He then was sent to the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia. The school is an independent Anglican co-educational boarding and day school. What is intended by ‘independent school’ is that such a school is independent in its finances and governance; it is usually not dependent upon national or local government to finance its operations, nor reliant on taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of tuition charges, donations, and in some cases the investment yield of an endowment. It is typically governed by a board of governors which is elected independently of government, and has a system of governance which ensures its independent operation. In a nominally ‘secular’ Australia, where education is presented as ‘free’ and non-sectarian, Geelong Grammar is actually, along with other ‘independent’ schools throughout the country, the forge to guarantee the continued domination of Australia by the British system – the Westminster System. Talk of an Australian head of state, if that is all there is in becoming a republic, is pure wind. And it does not matter whether the blowers are so-called Labor or so-called Liberals.
Presumably the bright idea behind the infliction on Charles of the Timbertop experience – and it is said that Charles intensely disliked Timbertop – was that he should acquaint himself with the Commonwealth of which he is likely one day to be the head.
After that, since he is the Prince of Wales, he was sent to the University of Aberystwyth for a few weeks to acquire a smattering of Welsh in a language laboratory. Then off to Cambridge, where he changed courses several times. He went to Cambridge with a wholly inflated sense of his own cleverness. Had he been sent to a school such as Eton where there are some genuinely clever boys and masters, he might have come to understand his actual level.
After receiving a bachelor of arts degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, Prince Charles entered the Royal Air Force College Cranwell, a thriving R.A.F. Station in the heart of Lincolnshire, in March 1971. Cranwell selects and trains officers and airmen aircrew to become the leaders of tomorrow, as well as supporting and directing R.A.F. recruiting and initial training. Charles served in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976.
In 1981 Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer and they had two sons: Prince William and Prince Harry. In 1996 the couple divorced following well-publicised extra-marital affairs by both parties. Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris the following year. In 2005 Charles married long-time girlfriend, co-adulterous Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Charles founded The Prince’s Trust in 1976, sponsors The Prince’s Charities, and is patron of many other charities and the arts. As an environmentalist he is reputed to have raised awareness of organic farming and climate change; for such activities Charles received awards and recognition from environmental groups. His support for alternative medicine, including homeopathy, has been criticised by knowledgeable members of the medical community.
Charles has spoken out on the role of architecture in society and the conservation of historic buildings. He organised Poundbury, an ‘experimental new town’ based on his preferences. His name is attached to at least two books: A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (Doubleday, London 1989) and the children’s book The Old Man of Lochnagar (Hamish Hamilton, London 1980).
This should be said at the beginning and without fear of contradiction:
Charles is not, as his sycophantic courtiers and followers have been assuring him for decades, ‘an intellectual’. Unlike first-rate minds he does not always understand what he is saying. He is not notably cleverer than his mother, grandfather or great-grandfather, but he entirely lacks their intellectual humility.
When he arrived on the public arena, it was his persistent sermonising, the explicit claim that his views of life – on architecture, on farming, on the environment – would bring people not merely closer to peace but closer to God. This made malicious ears so willing to listen to the so-called ‘Camillagate tapes’ – transcripts said to be of recorded telephone conversations between the Prince and his friend, Mrs. Parker-Bowles. And such intrusion into one’s life, whether commoner or royal, occurred quite separately from the activity of the Murdochian journalists. It must be dismaying to him to realise that the public at large can probably only remember two of his utterances: his comparison of a proposed scheme to modernise the National Gallery to a ‘monstrous carbuncle’, and his wish to be re-incarnated as Mrs. Parker-Bowles’ sanitary tampon.
In the long process of becoming a king he, in turn, may wish to forget the difficulty for him to become the Supreme Governor of the Anglican Church – although by that time, if it were ever to come, the Church could have such broad arms as to reach even for Charlie.
It would certainly make a nonsense of the Battenberg-Windsor ‘tradition’ that the king should have an exemplary domestic life. Though wisdom may be granted to him with age – and he is now about to turn 70, it has to be said that many of his utterances to date have come perilously close to being ‘unconstitutional’ – the word to be interpreted in the strictly English meaning, if one keeps in mind that England has no written constitution to speak of. Far from appearing to mind all this, the Prince positively relishes it.
Charles’ preparation for the ‘job’ of king was always of a contingent character. He was never allowed, as most young people might be and many must do, to find his métier and then pursue it, for the métier, if he ever found it, would have involved the death of the one person supremely capable of keeping the British monarchy afloat in the twenty first century.
From the time he was sent to his appalling boarding school Prince Charles has been a tinker, a potterer, a dabbler with this and that. And after that there has been no fixed career, no obvious role for him to follow. Pity the man. How could anyone feel if s/he were trained for a specific role, trained to be king in this case, only to be told, when that ‘training’ was nearly done, that he could not start the job until they were seventy years of age? Can anyone imagine how a lawyer would feel about not being able to be called to the Bar because s/he had not passed the age when most people have retired?
Charlie might not be too bright, but he certainly understood the meaning of his mother’s declaration during one of her ‘Christmas Messages’, as long as twenty seven years ago, that she was ever-mindful of her coronation oath to be Queen for life.
It is unlikely that, while being indoctrinated by Sir Clarence Henry Kennett Marten, Provost of Eton, the young Elizabeth was exposed to the writing of Thomas Paine and his Common sense. In it, he said inter alia: “To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession, and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. … One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ass for a lion.”
The truthfulness of such a statement is daily reaffirmed. Yet, though the word ‘Charley’ connotes idiocy in colloquial English, Charlie might have got the message right-away.
So he continued his easy run.
Prince Charles was as careless as Prince Andrew in the choice of friends.
Sometime in the 1970s Prince Charles, through mutual friends, met the Afrikaner Lauren van der Post (later Sir Laurens Jan van der Post, CBE), an author, farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, and intimately close to Prince Charles. He had a reputation as an educator, journalist, humanitarian, philosopher, explorer and conservationist. However, his reputation suffered after his death.
To be true, he was a spellbinding storyteller, a figure of mesmerising charm. Van der Post, some forty years older than Prince Charles, was also a Jungian mystic and became a spiritual adviser to Charles. According to British newspapers, he taught the Prince to talk to his plants.
In 1982 Charles made him godfather to his heir, Prince William. Van der Post was also a close friend of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, exerting an influence on her policy in South Africa.
According to a study by the English journalist J.D.F. Jones, van der Post was a fraud who deceived people about everything from the amount of time he actually spent with the Bushmen to his military record during the second world war. His claim that he had brokered the settlement in the Rhodesian civil war was a lie as was his insistence that he was a close friend of Jung’s, Mr. Jones wrote.
And when it came to women, van der Post was a bounder. In the early 1950s, when he was 46, he seduced the 14-year-old daughter of a wealthy South African winemaking family, who had been entrusted to his care during a sea voyage. She became pregnant, and although he sent her a small stipend, he never publicly acknowledged the daughter born of the relationship. (J.D.F. Jones, Teller of Many Tales: The Lives of Laurens van der Post, Carroll & Graf , New York 2002).
“I discovered to my astonishment that not a single word he ever wrote or ever said could necessarily be believed,” Mr. Jones said in an interview from his home in Somerset, England. “He was a compulsive fantasist.”
Mr. Jones knew van der Post slightly – he said – and had been an admirer of his early work. “You have never in your life met a man so charming.” he said. ”It was staggering.” When van der Post was in his late 80s, Mr. Jones proposed writing his biography, but van der Post did not want one while he was still alive. After his death, Mr. Jones approached Ms. Lucia Crichton-Miller, van der Post’s daughter who had been a colleague of his at The (London) Financial Times, where he was an editor. Ms. Crichton-Miller agreed to cooperate with him and provided access to her father’s archives.
The lies began with the stories of his childhood, Mr. Jones said. In his 1951 best-selling account of his travels in Nyasaland – today Malawi, interwoven with Jungian mysticism, Van der Post claimed descent from minor Dutch aristocracy, and said that his father had been a senior statesman and a high-ranking barrister, a “kind of prime minister.” In fact, Mr. Jones said, his father came from a family of minor distinction and was a lower-status law agent who processed routine legal documents.
In another work and other writings, van der Post claimed to have had a Bushman, sometimes a half-Bushman, nanny, from whom he derived his special, instinctive knowledge of the group. In fact, Mr. Jones said, there is no record of such a person, and van der Post did not encounter the Bushmen, the Indigenous people of South Africa, until he was an adult. He spent about two weeks with them despite assertions that he lived among them. In his writings, van der Post depicted the Bushmen as primitive, instinctual, childlike, whereas white men were logical, reasonable, intellectual.
Van der Post also lied to the women in his life, Mr. Jones wrote. He juggled affairs with numerous women simultaneously, keeping them secret from one another. In 1934 he settled in England with his first wife, Marjorie, and his son, John, on a farm probably bought for him with money from the Queen Mother’s first cousin Lilian Bowes Lyon, with whom he was having a relationship.
In 1936 the same year his first daughter, Lucia, was born, van der Post met Ingaret Giffard on a boat to South Africa. In 1938 he sent Marjorie and his two children to South Africa, on the pretext that war was imminent. He did not see his children for nearly ten years. He and Marjorie eventually divorced, and he married Ingaret after the war, while maintain a relationship with Frances Baruch for some thirty years.
In 1942 van der Post, then an acting captain, was captured by the Japanese in Java. In books and speeches, he claimed he volunteered for an extra beating to save his fellow prisoners, but that account was also disputed in written statements by some of his fellow prisoners. In books about his war experiences, and his autobiography, van der Post cast himself as a war hero, while he was a prisoner of war in a Japanese prison camp.
Van der Post also said that after the Allied victory, he had been “military governor of Batavia,” in Java, now part of Indonesia, but Mr. Jones found no record of it.
Ms. Crichton-Miller disputed Mr. Jones’s assertion that her father had not been an intimate of Jung’s, pointing to the observation of a member of Jung’s inner circle, Barbara Hannah, that van der Post and Jung had been very close friends. As for Mr. Jones’s allegations about her father’s relationship with a 14-year-old girl, “I’m afraid I think that’s true,” Ms. Crichton-Miller said. “He was not a saint. He hurt people. He hurt me. But by God, he was fascinating.”
In 1987 van der Post took Charles on a four-day trip to the Kalahari, telling the Prince: “This is the real Africa.” According to Mr. Jones, sometime in the mid-70s, Charles began having psychoanalytic treatment with Ingaret Giffard, who was a Jungian analyst, and then with van der Post’s friend Dr. Alan McGlashan. Diana, Princess of Wales, was also treated by Dr. McGlashan during the troubles in her marriage, Mr. Jones writes.
Charles told van der Post his dreams, and van der Post drafted some of his speeches. When van der Post died, Charles set up an annual lecture in his honour.
But van der Post’s most significant influence occurred during the South African struggle over apartheid, Mr. Jones said. Van der Post hated Nelson Mandela and championed the Zulu chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, whom he saw as a foil for the African National Congress’s Communist beliefs. He arranged meetings between Chief Buthelezi, Charles and Mrs. Thatcher. Mr. Jones argues that van der Post had helped convince Mrs. Thatcher to oppose sanctions against the South African government and not to embrace Mr. Mandela.
As van der Post lay dying, Mr. Jones said, Prince Charles visited him. At his memorial service, Lady Thatcher read the lesson and Chief Buthelezi spoke. Nonetheless, Mr. Jones wrote, there were apparently some who doubted van der Post even when he was alive.
Mr. Jones said that when a doctor who knew him was asked the cause of his death, the doctor replied, “He was weary of sustaining so many lies.” (D. Smith, ‘Master Storyteller or Master Deceiver?’, The New York Times, 3 August 2002, nytimes.com).
Continued Wednesday – A conga line of bludgers: Prince Charles (part 2)
Previous instalment – A conga line of bludgers (part 2)
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents.
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