Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Why Prince Charles should be glad the Queen isn't planning to abdicate

Crowning glory: Prince Charles has waited a long time to be king

Now that Juan Carlos of Spain has announced he's throwing in the towel, should Elizabeth II consider putting her feet up too? Especially when you consider that at 88, she is a whole 12 years older than His Majesty in Madrid. In fact, tellingly, Juan Carlos is (slightly) closer in age to Prince Charles than he is to the Queen.

He's also the latest in a hat-trick of monarchs to vacate the throne in favour of a younger successor. In April last year, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands moved over in favour of her son remarking that it was time for "a new generation".

A few months later, in July, Albert II of Belgium stepped down, this time for health reasons, with the throne again passing to his son.

All of which, you imagine, must tantalise the still-waiting Charles, the very patient Prince of Wales.

Those close to her say the Queen will never abdicate. She regards her position as a job for life. Next September she is due to become the UK's longest reigning monarch. Ever.

Should she live as long as her mother, Charles at 78 will be even older when he finally ascends the throne, than Juan Carlos is now.

In his abdication announcement the Spanish king has said: "A new generation must be at the forefront ... younger people with new energies."

Younger people with new energies ... where does that leave poor Charles who already qualifies for his bus pass – even if he still lags some working years behind Bruce Forsyth?

His can't be a comfortable rung on the inheritance ladder, perched as he is between an elderly, but still enormously popular, mother and his own young, and increasingly popular, heir.

Plus there's wife Camilla who many have never quite warmed to or forgiven. Chas will be well aware that all this tends to heighten, in some people's minds anyway, the notion that come the time, leapfrogging a generation could well be the way to move the monarchy forward. In recent times he has become more vocal on matters political. Whether this is a wise move is debatable. The man's entitled to his opinions, of course.

But even a hint that he is trying to bend others to his way of thinking could be seen as contentious. The monarchy is supposed to be above politics.

But what's he to do otherwise? Confine his pep talks to the Highgrove hydrangea?

The popularity of William and Kate and the chubby-faced George (a third generation of kings-in-waiting) is said to ruffle Charles. Whether this is true, who knows? But the self-centred Chas was previously said to be jealous of Diana's popularity, so it would hardly be that surprising if he did feel threatened – in the popularity stakes – by the new generation in the House of Windsor.

Kate is not the new Diana. Even if it sometimes seems as though she is attempting (or is being encouraged to attempt) an odd process of Dianafication. Same engagement ring, similar dress worn leaving the maternity hospital, same pose beside Uluru and so on. Why is she doing that? Isn't it just a bit ... well ... creepy?

Like Diana, Kate does have some talent for hitting the headlines. She's currently at the centre of a row (again) after a magazine on the continent published pictures of her flashing the flesh. Last time round it was topless shots in French Closer. This time it's pics of her bare butt in Bild.

Charles will know that the more attention she and William – and the baby George – attract, the more their profile rises.

You could hardly blame the man for fearing that they might eclipse him entirely.

But it is perhaps for that very reason he should be thankful his mother shows no sign of doing a Juan Carlos. Age-related abdication could, in itself, become tradition.

And after his interminable wait, the last thing Charles will surely want when he someday ascends to the throne is immediate pressure to vacate it.

 

Kanye and Kim can’t put a price on love

Reports that the newly-married Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are thinking of selling some of their wedding presents on eBay can't be true. Can they? The couple have just splashed out £10.5m on the wedding. It's not as though they're short of cash.

Maybe it's space they need to free up. Presumably you can get too many toasters — even of the diamond-encrusted variety.

Everything is extravagant where the new Mr and Mrs West are concerned. (Apart from that afternoon on their honeymoon where they dropped into the Odeon cinema in Portlaoise). But there is also a shot from their wedding where they're walking down the aisle, looking excited, happy, in love just like any pair of newlyweds and for all the excess, you have to warm to them.

Some things money still can't buy.

 

Nichola has two hard acts to follow

You wait for years for a great Lord Mayor to come along — then two come along at once. First Gavin Robinson of the DUP. And then Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir.

Robinson, I thought, was always going to be a hard act to follow. O Muilleoir more than measured up. What both men from two very separate traditions realised is that their role was to serve the whole community. Both did that with a heart and a half. Both seemed to enjoy it too. But what a pity if the goodwill they engendered and their skills at outreach can't be capitalised upon for the future.

Maybe a sort of mayoral old boys/girls club could be set up to tap into what they achieved. As Nichola Mallon picks up the torch for her year in office, here's hoping for more of the same. Belfast, and its people, before party politics.

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