The enduring royal pain of Prince Charles

Amid all the wild celebrations and emotional accolades pouring in from well-wishers - well, all right, make that bored indifference - in the aftermath of Queen Beatrix of The Netherland's announcement that she will abdicate the throne this spring, one observer likely stamped his royal foot and allowed a famously stiff upper lip to curl while muttering expletives.

That would be Prince Charles of Great Britain, who now has the Guinness record for length of time waiting for his mum to die, or at least, for the love of God, to finally step down.

The Prince of Wales was 4 years old at Elizabeth II's 1952 coronation, and if you look closely at pictures of the lad then, squirming impatiently between his aunt, Princess Margaret, and grandmother, the Queen Mother, you can see him scheming and plotting, "One day this will all be MINE!"

Well, nearly 61 years have passed and at 86 Queen Elizabeth II shows no signs of slowing down, giving up or shuffling off the mortal coil.

Meanwhile, the 2011 wedding of Charles's son, Prince William, to Catherine Middleton, and the news that they are expecting a future prince or princess in July, has increased the likelihood that if Charles ever does become king he will be the shortest-reigning British monarch since King Sweyn I assumed the throne in 1013 and died only one month and nine days later.

That's because surveys of most Brits today find they'd rather see Prince William on the throne than his frumpy dad, who is married to the even frumpier Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Even more subjects probably would prefer William's younger brother, Prince Harry, who would certainly liven things up at the stuffy Buckingham Palace if he managed to keep his knickers buttoned.

This brings us to the main point: Why do we Yanks give a fig about the House of Windsor? After all, didn't we go to war nearly 238 years ago to get out from under the royal thumb?

Frankly, we've been mystified by all the attention paid on this side of the pond to the comings and goings of kings, queens, princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses, lords, ladies. earls, viscounts, viscountesses, marquises, marquesses, barons, baronesses, counts and countesses.

Blimey - almost as many people here turned on the telly for William and Kate's wedding as they did for the Super Bowl!

Of course Americans have their own "royal" families - the Clintons, the Bushes, the Kennedys, to name but three - yet most of us still resist the notion of "to the manner born."

So even though we can't get too enthusiastic about Dutch Queen Beatrix, 75, preparing to pass the crown to her eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, 45, we agree it is the right decision. As she noted, "It was not because the office was too heavy for me, but because the responsibility for this country should lie in the hands of a new generation."

Evidently Elizabeth II doesn't share this perspective. But we shouldn't feel too sorry for Prince Charles, who recently publicly admitted, not in so many words, that his patience is wearing thin.

After all he may not yet be king but at least remains Duke of Cornwall and, in the Scottish peerage, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. Not too shabby.

Of course, if Elizabeth II doesn't die she may still follow a course set by her uncle, Edward VIII, who abdicated as king in 1936 so he could marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. This allowed Elizabeth II's father, George VI, to assume the throne, where he remained until his death 16 years later.

It's not bloody likely, though, that Elizabeth II will dump her husband, Prince Philip, and run off with another man.

Possibly Queen Elizabeth will wait at least three more years to abdicate so that she can eclipse the British monarch longevity record held by Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 until her death in 1901.

Who knows, perhaps by then President Clinton - Hillary, that is - will attend the coronation.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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