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Skidmore's Island: A Reluctant Monarchist

"For most of my life I have been a reluctant monarchist; approving the office but loathing the occupants of any post-Plantagenet dynasty,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

Did Prince Charles “summon” Cabinet Ministers or did he “ invite” them?

Obviously he invited them, and good manners assured their attendance. An invitation would never have achieved front page status in the left wing trade to which I increasingly regret devoting my life. In my defence, I have to insist that the newspapermen of my day were neither left nor right wing. After meeting so many practitioners of the shabby trade of politics we were all dodos, the defiantly wingless birds.

For most of my life I have been a reluctant monarchist; approving the office but loathing the occupants of any post-Plantagenet dynasty.
It’s a toss-up which was the worse, the feckless, self-indulgent Stuarts or their successors, the Hanoverians, the last two of whom were spectacularly dreadful: George V let his relations die to safeguard his job and Edward VIII was a pro-Nazi and a traitor to his country.

I think the Windsors may turn out to be the golden dynasty, but only because they have been saved by their womenfolk.

I like to think the stories about the Queen Mother being the daughter of a housemaid are true. Certainly she introduced a better bloodline into the royal nursery. Diana might have been as mad as a hatter but her progeny have been a credit to her. Camilla and the new Duchess have been splendid additions. I would not hesitate to breed from the Cambridges.

But to return to our next king. He was a boy when we met, he making his first royal progress as the Earl of Chester, me writing about it for The Times. I was so impressed by him I came within an ace of writing to the Queen to tell her that her lad done good.

My old friend Charles Quant, who worked closely with him in his charities, endlessly sang his praises; the son of a friend, wounded in Afghanistan who can scarcely grant human status to anyone who is not an Argyll and Sutherland Highlander was visited by the Prince in hospital. Wales spent twenty minutes at his bedside and he said it was just like talking to an army chum. Coming from him, that is the equivalent of a Nobel Prize.

The Prince, of course, with his demands for special cooking times for his breakfast eggs, for special cushions and his insistence on a special bathroom tumbler, not to mention his forest of butlers and valets, comes across as spoilt. Looking back over his predecessors, it seems that comes with the territory.

Seeking knowledge about their departments by inviting ministers and their aides seems to me swotting on kingship and wholly admirable.

I feel very ashamed that I declined an invitation to meet him on the royal yacht when it was moored off Anglesey.


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