Friday, November 19, 2010

His Royal Highness Prince Charles

I watched the NBC special interview with Prince Charles tonight, and my first thought was that he reminds me of Henry Adams. When I was a freshman in college I passed out of freshman English second semester and took instead an entire semester devoted to The Education of Henry Adams, a dense, multi-layered, introspective sort of autobiography of a man lost between two worlds that he symbolized by the Virgin and the Machine--the old order of faith and the new mechanized world. If I remember the book correctly, he saw these two polar opposites most clearly at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.
Prince Charles seems much the same--caught between the old order of the monarchy and his contemporary world of ecological concerns, particularly his project to save the rain forests. As newscaster Brian Williams found it, it's difficult to ask this man who will be king about his role as monarch, because it presumes the death of his parent and, as he said, now that he's in his sixties he may drop dead before he ever becomes king. It strikes me William is likely to ascend to the throne in much shorter time than his father, who is the longest-serving (is that the word?) heir apparent in the British monarchy.
Call me a patsy for a well-done pr piece and perhaps it's true, but Charles came across as very human in this special. Like many Americans, I had little regard for him, thinking he had dumped poor Diana for Camilla. But that's a surface reading of a complex situation. Having carried that image of a young Charles in my mind for years, it's strange to see him at the far edge of middle age, a graying, slightly paunchy, balding man but one who seems highly introspective, thoughtful when he speaks (almost sometimes in riddles), and a concerned parent. I loved seeing his castle/estate in northern Scotland where he grows all sorts of organic plants and puts his ecological concerns to a practical test. He's also a man comfortable with solitude, which I admire, and with long walks in the rugged countryside. All in all, I rather liked him--and now I want to go to the Scottish Highlands all the more.
I ignored Jacob to watch that. At one point, he told me to turn it off and play "Who Let the Dogs out" but I refused. I felt a trifle guilty when I snuck a look at him, a lonely child watching TV by himself. But we had great fun after the program was over reading a Star Wars book, watching dog videos that made him giggle. Otherwise a fine day--my friend Kathie picked me up and we met Carol and Fran at the Zodiac Room in the Dallas Neiman's. High cotton, that! But the best tuna I've had in a long time. And a good visit--with that bunch, talk inevitably comes back to publishing.
A nice day, and now I must go wish Jacob "Sweet Dreams." Sweet dreams to you, too.

No comments: