Coffee House

Princes and politics don’t mix

18 December 2010

Max Hasting’s essay in the Daily Mail about the dangers for the monarchy of Prince Charles becoming king is an important moment. Hastings, who is very much part of the establishment, is reflecting a view that many hold in private: that Prince Charles’s desire to advance his political views is incompatible with a modern constitutional monarchy. As Hastings puts it, ‘he is so set in his ways, so accustomed to not being contradicted — because those who argue with him are swiftly expelled from his counsels — that I am convinced that if he becomes King he will persist in trying to save the world, and thus precipitate a crisis.’

Seeing as belief in the divine right of kings has rather died out, the monarchy is now essentially a convenient constitutional device. If Prince Charles continues trying to promote his personal views, which are political in the broad sense of the word, then he’ll throw the current system out of kilter, opening the whole Pandora’s Box of whether the monarchy is really appropriate in this democratic age.


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  • Nicholas

    Herbert Thornton, I don’t remember that but thank you for mentioning it.

    This thread is getting further and further back and we are like the two drunks left in the bar after closing time! On that note I better bid you adieu and offer you my best wishes for the season and the New Year.

  • Herbert Thornton


    We’re obviously much closer in our attitudes & opinions than might have been thought. I’ll pass over your parting shot encapsulated in the word “partisan” and just reminisce a little more. Maybe you too will remember listening to Churchill’s address to Congress (I think it was Congress and not just the HoR).

    Churchill referred to his parentage & the fact his mother was an American, and then after a slight pause added – “I often like to think that if it had been the other way round, I might have got here on my own.”

    The ovation was immediate and tremendous.

  • Nicholas

    Herbert Thornton. I don’t disagree and yes, I remember it too. I also appreciate the assistance the US gave during the war, even before they entered it. But I think you are forgetting – or overlooking – an aspect of the wartime relationship that became quite unpleasant after 1944 due to some of the Anglophobes in the US military. It even cost lives.

    I am not going to ignore yank’s venomous attacks on our military history just because you think I should be grateful for what his country did for us during the war! We paid more in war debt to the USA than Germany paid in reparations, and they held us to every last cent. Canada on the other hand waived the debt in recognition of Britain’s unique struggle on behalf of Europe in 1940-41. Whilst acknowledging their support I don’t hold the USA in such high regard as you do, largely as a result of studying the period 1944-1949 and understanding what went on, but I do draw a distinction between the USA and yank as a representative of the USA. There are good and bad in the military of both countries.

    But yank himself has admitted on many occasions to enjoying twisting my tail as he puts it and has slagged off the British army from day one. I think your intervention has been partisan.

    It is interesting that you mention Churchill, because in many ways it was his affection for the USA that blinded him to their more ruthless and self-serving aspirations. Attlee saw it, but was more pragmatic about the outcome.

  • Herbert Thornton

    Nicholas –

    Perhaps you had not yet been born, or had only just been born when WW2 began, so that you don’t remember it. But those of us who do remember know how near we came to being defeated, and we remember the part that the U.S. armed forces played in ensuring that we – and you too if you were then living – survived.

    Winston Churchill wrote, of the U.S. entry into the war, that when he heard the news of it his reaction was – “So we would win after all”. The whole of Britain knew it too. I remember the universal sense of relief – it was palpable.

    Jibes exchanged between British and Americans about each other’s men and each other’s equipment can be entertaining and are usually taken in good part, but it is unseemly to raise them to a level that smacks of ignorance and ingratitude.

    We should, rather, put our minds to the far more important matter of the disastrous direction in which recent governments and now the current government – and the establishment – have been herding – and continue to herd – the nation.

    We should acknowledge too that the same kind of evil that is being allowed to take root and grow in Britain is also working for the downfall of America.

  • Nicholas

    Herbert Thornton: “Are you implying that British affairs are none of my business?”

    No. But it surprises me that having served in the British army you would stand by and let an American trash it – or even show him support. Maybe your anti-establishment stance explains it, I don’t know.

  • Herbert Thornton


    Are you implying that British affairs are none of my business? I was born and grew up in Britain, I served in the British army, I have British citizenship and most of my family are still in Britain. I do not think that the fact that I now also have Canadian citizenship should disqualify me from speaking my mind.

    Political and social cancers are gnawing at Britain’s heart and steadily dragging it towards an even more unstable condition than that of the former Yugoslavia. Think Lebanon and Gaza – with the English Scots and Welsh representing Israel’s Christians and Jews.

    Yet the British establishment – class-ridden, incompetent and stupid as ever, and now led by a Jeremy Cardhouse as Prime Minister – are nonchalantly continuing to lead the lemming-like rush towards Britain’s disintegration and eventual extinction. Indeed to carry the simile a bit further, the establishment are the Gadarene swine – dragging the unfortunate lemmings behind them.

  • Nicholas

    Herbert Thornton, thank you for your clarification. Now I understand your position. I presumed you were a fellow countryman rather than another Anglophobe.

  • Nicholas

    Cheerio yank. Parthian shots are always risky. You never know where they will land or whether they will be effective so I won’t make any here. I’ll leave you yours and just report that they fell wide of the mark and fizzled rather than zipped.

    It would be interesting to discover, though, just where you draw your evidence for the “historical incompetence of (the British) officer corps”. That is not a national trait but may be found in the military history of most countries, including yours.

  • Herbert Thornton


    I represent the “special relationship” very well? Not me, sir. The “special relationship” may have meant, once, the relationship between the USA and Britain that consisted of so much in common that it was an especially cordial one – one moreover that could be described as gentlemanly.

    But now that Britain tolerates the presence of – and blindly nurtures – so many religiously inspired terrorists that it even exports terrorism, and moreover has yet another Prime Minister resembling Michael Wharton’s Jeremy Cardhouse – a Prime Minister so politically correct and shallow that he has no understanding of the desperate need to act effectively against this cancer in his nation’s midst, let alone any urge to slow it’s growth by stopping further undesirable immigration of its components, Americans may soon be justified in asking themselves – “What special relationship? If a country with that kind of government is going to continue being treated as a friend, why worry about enemies?

    If we are going to identify a special relationship, I suggest it would be more accurate to describe it as the one that exists between the USA and what is now my country – Canada.

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