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November 28, 2008 4:27 AM   Subscribe

Apropos on Black Friday, Charles, Prince of Wales addresses the Foreign Press Association with a comprehensive lecture on the dangers of unchecked consumerism and the need for an increasingly holistic worldview in light of the global social, economic and environmental challenges. The credit crisis is a side effect of a throwaway society and consumerism is no cure for depression, he says, and we need to question the concepts of "Modernity" and "Economic Growth" we take for granted.
posted by infini (102 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
he actually uses the term Modernism, but wiki's choice doesn't seem the right one
posted by infini at 4:31 AM on November 28, 2008


See also, for balance, Prince Charles, extreme environmental hypocrite
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:41 AM on November 28, 2008


I have just one problem with this: Prince Charles, with an income of £16M a year, isn't exactly the best placed person to preach abstinence and a life of poverty as the way forward to the rest of us.

Whatever happened to leading by example?
posted by cstross at 4:51 AM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh. I guess he must be wrong then.
posted by pracowity at 4:59 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


um, a) he's actually quoting Gandhi, a person very well placed to preach abstinence adn a life of poverty and b) he's speaking to the Media about the need to question the precepts that the current era (western civ) takes for granted, i.e. he's introspecting whether society is on the right path (one would assume including himself)
posted by infini at 5:03 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whatever his point, irrespective of whether he is right or wrong, he is a future constitutional monarch and has no business pontificating on anything with even the remotest connection to politics.
posted by vbfg at 5:07 AM on November 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


The credit crisis is a side effect of a throwaway society...

My luck to be chucked down a lavatory and go on and on for ever swirling round on the top, never going down!
posted by ShameSpiral at 5:08 AM on November 28, 2008


one would assume including himself

I guess it's just irksome that a royal, born, raised and living in privilege, should tell people already struggling to make ends meet that they must remember that buying things doesn't bring you happiness. THANKS, your majesty, I'll keep that in mind this holiday season.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:16 AM on November 28, 2008 [8 favorites]


Throughout those 60years I have become accustomed to journalists accusing me of occupying a privileged position – the privilege to be abused, if you ask me.

Oh, ha ha ha, Your Highness! How droll! Actually, no, it's the privilege to spunk around with the vast wealth your family has amassed by stealing from our families for centuries, and the privilege of living in a society that, for fuck knows what reason, still defers to your family, giving you a platform from which to spout your often bizarre views.
posted by jack_mo at 5:22 AM on November 28, 2008 [10 favorites]


he's actually quoting Gandhi

The Mahatma would be so pleased.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:38 AM on November 28, 2008


I'd respect him more if he gave a speech about the need to question the concept of "Monarchy" first. Be the change you want to see Chucky.
posted by srboisvert at 5:41 AM on November 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


My luck to be chucked down a lavatory and go on and on for ever swirling round on the top, never going down!

Link.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:43 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Would you prefer your rich, entitled poncy bastards to just be mindless rich, entitled poncy bastards continuing their own overconsumptive ways, oblivious to the big picture. Or would you prefer them to at least question the premises of their situation, and use it to advocate for change?

By the same token, should slave-owning aristocrats just keep owning slaves, or should they keep owning slaves but also author influential political documents that eventually lead to the abolition of slavery?

We can't all be Gandhi, so cut the prince some slack for at least being a little self aware. The existence of the perfect should not keep us from honoring the intentions of the merely good.
posted by jetsetsc at 5:43 AM on November 28, 2008 [25 favorites]


There's no hate like liberal anti-monarchical republican hate.

You haters of His Royal Highness, your Prince, should keep in mind: Charles might have been a Roosian, a French, or Turk, or Proosian, or perhaps Itali-an! But in spite of all temptations to belong to other nations, he remains an Englishman! He remains an Englishman!
posted by orthogonality at 5:44 AM on November 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


...he's actually quoting Gandhi

If my mother had a little habit of strutting about the place covered with ill-gotten Indian gemstones, I would probably feel funny about invoking the moral authority of the Mahatma, to be perfectly honest.
posted by ShameSpiral at 5:47 AM on November 28, 2008 [10 favorites]


Would you prefer your rich, entitled poncy bastards to just be mindless rich, entitled poncy bastards continuing their own overconsumptive ways, oblivious to the big picture. Or would you prefer them to at least question the premises of their situation, and use it to advocate for change?

Are these my only options?

You know, Diana earned respect from the rest of the world because she actually did put a lot of time, money and energy into trying to make the world a little bit better. I don't put Prince Charles on par with George V or Vlad the Impaler, but telling the commoners that buying things won't give your life meaning is not exactly the maneuver I would have taken to set an example of the change I'd like to see in the world.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:51 AM on November 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


I have just one problem with this: Prince Charles, with an income of £16M a year, isn't exactly the best placed person to preach abstinence and a life of poverty as the way forward to the rest of us.

Does that mean he's consuming though? If only everyone was like him and only used buildings and furniture built hundreds of years ago, then sustainability might not be an impossible dream.
posted by biffa at 5:52 AM on November 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


cut the prince some slack for at least being a little self aware

That's just it, though: Telling the common man to curb his spending while you're flying around the country in a gold-plated helicopter shows a distinct lack of self-awareness. Quoting Gandhi is just icing on the cake.

And speaking of cake, he might as well have quoted Marie Antoinette.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:53 AM on November 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


You know, Diana earned respect from the rest of the world because she actually did put a lot of time, money and energy into trying to make the world a little bit better. I don't put Prince Charles on par with George V or Vlad the Impaler, but

Man, I really dont understand the hate for Prince Charles. Especially from people who claim to admire Diana. Yes, she did some good things but well, to my mind, not all that much. She gave some pretty speeches and seemed adept at playing to the media. I do respect her for her work with AIDS and such but I think she has become some sort of modern saint, beyond criticism.

Prince Charles, far from being an evil-doer has tried to justify his existence. He owns the Duchy of Cornwall, pays taxes on it and uses most of that to raise money for charities. Duchy Originals is a product line focused on organic, sustainable products. The Prince pays himself purely from the proceeds of the Estate and in addition raises about £120m each year for charities. You can read about his finances here.

But people love to hate Prince Charles without knowing much about him. I'm a staunch anti-Monarchist and have vowed, even though I live in the UK, never to seek British citizenship merely because the existence of a Monarchy deeply conflicts with my own views. So, coming from that angle, I still fail to understand all the Charles hate.
posted by vacapinta at 7:28 AM on November 28, 2008 [20 favorites]


Well then I look forward to him abdicating from his position and returning his vast wealth to the people...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:29 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


On a personal level, sometimes they don't appear particularly excessive in their spending: Prince Philip has 51-year-old trousers altered to fit latest trend.
posted by mandal at 7:30 AM on November 28, 2008


he is a future constitutional monarch and has no business pontificating on anything with even the remotest connection to politics.

I fail to see any justification for that viewpoint. The Government runs the country for the Royal Family. Not instead of. Admittedly, the vast majority of the decisions are completely deferred to The PM and the Queen does very little to interfere in the interests of respecting Democracy (at least publicly) but the Government still does have to report to the Queen. After all, it is their country (of which the populous and government are subjects) and not liking that doesn't make it any less true. The fact that they don't exercise that right through choice doesn't mean they are pointless.

The must have an interest in politics, as if the government and the PM starts to act against the country's best interests, they need to be aware of that to stop them. Their authority to do that hasn't been waived, it has just lapsed into disuse. And when politicians (the other major figures of influence) can't say the things that need to be said (because they are too busy covering their own backs to say unpopular things that will bite them in the arse, come election time) then I'm glad someone like Charles does, fairly regularly, stand up and make his point.

Also: Having a lot of money doesn't, in any way, prevent someone from having a clear and accurate perspective of how the country (or a society) as a whole is acting, and if those actions are not in the best interests of those people in the long term. Nor does it preclude them for either saying it, nor require them to be "You first, cos I don't like what you're saying!".
posted by Brockles at 7:31 AM on November 28, 2008 [4 favorites]



I imagine the responsibility you bear compels you from time to time to step back and take stock of your perspective. After all, our view can so easily become obscured by the cultural values that surround us all and if our view is not wide enough - or deep enough - then our perspective cannot be sure.

posted by infini at 7:33 AM on November 28, 2008


I'm pretty much with vacapinta here; the indications generally seem to show that Charles is a decent guy. The hate largely seems to boil down to his having been born into a life of privilege that, frankly, I have an enormously difficult time imagining anyone here renouncing to sell shoes or something were they themselves born into it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:35 AM on November 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hmm, I don't think I get hating on wealthy people who inherited wealth for talking about moderation. Knowing not to overspend is one of their ways their ancestor insured they'd have the money in the first place. And I'm similarly not sure I understand monarchy hate in a constitutional monarchy where the royal figure is merely a rubber stamp. They have no real power, and exist the way that old monuments do, tasteful or not.

As for how Diana redeemed herself with good works... Well what do you think he does with his time? Sure he's not a photogenic blonde woman hugging AIDS patients, but he's not exactly just spending all his blunt on gold plated platinum knick knacks. And as far as flying around to exotic locations… That’s his job. If he (or his wife) don’t do it, they get roasted alive for falling down on their responsabilities. Just like monarchs anywhere else in the world, from Japan and beyond.
posted by Phalene at 7:35 AM on November 28, 2008


This speech is very much like one I delivered to my high-school eleventh-grade english class, in 1968.

And it's interesting that Prince Charles should deliver his speech after the sea-change election of Barack Obama (which, to be fair, may turn out to be just as empty and meaningless).

Still if I may say so, what he said is just as true today as it was forty fucking years ago.
posted by Restless Day at 7:41 AM on November 28, 2008


I am skeptical of people who ignore a message do to the position of the messenger. Even hypocrites can still have a point. Consumerism and the lust for wealth is a dead end. Maybe you'll listen to Prince Joe Strummer: Rude Boy Philosophy Lesson.
posted by jetsetsc at 7:43 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, Diana earned respect from the rest of the world because she actually did put a lot of time, money and energy into trying to make the world a little bit better.

I saw a list once of how many public appearances (meaning official appearances at benefits and events and the like) the Royals make, broken down by individuals (this was pre-1997). Charles made significantly more appearances than Diana. He does lead quite a serious and purposeful life, but never got the level of attention and credit for it that she got.
posted by orange swan at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, coming from that angle, I still fail to understand all the Charles hate.

I don't hate him but I do dislike him because he is a rich idiot who through an accident of birth is given a platform to bang on about any issue that pops into his tiny mind. Why can't he just stand on Hyde Park Corner like everyone else who wants to get on their hobbyhorse?
posted by ninebelow at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also:

It is not by chance that, from the Middle Ages, the motto of Britain's Prince of Wales has been Ich dein (I serve). That which is called the Grail Code is itself a parable for the human condition, in that it is the quest of us all to achieve through service. Grail Kings were defined as Guardians of the Realm, and, in this regard, Bishop Eleutherius' advice to Lucius was both profound and enlightened: "All the people of the kingdom must be considered sons of the king. They are under your protection."The problem is that the precept of the code has been overwhelmed by an avaricious society complex, based on the notion of the "survival of the fittest." Today, it is plain that wealth, rather than health, is a major stepping-stone towards being socially fit. To this end, there are many who seek positions of influence for the sheer sake of gaining power over others. Serving their own interests, they become manipulators of society, causing the disempowerment of the majority. The result is that, instead of being rightly served, that same majority is reduced to a state of servitude.

Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail
posted by Restless Day at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


In addition to the things vacapinta, mentioned, Charles founded The Prince's Trust, an organisation that has done a great deal of good in the world. And I'm no monarchist either.

Arguably he could win points in certain circles by abdicating and throwing every last penny to the poor, but in his defence he does appear to have made a conscious attempt to channel his status and wealth into something socially beneficial.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2008


You know, Diana earned respect from the rest of the world because she actually did put a lot of time, money and energy into trying to make the world a little bit better.

Please. She was a neurotic publicity hound.
This is not exactly coming out of nowhere, he has been extremely active in his charities (which are some of the best run and most effective in the country). I've no doubt whatsoever that Charles has done far more useful work - rather than photo ops - to make the world a little better than Diana would have if she'd lived to 300 years old.

For those of you claiming that he's a hypocrite because he's so wealthy, well in what sense? Sure the Duchy of Cornwall has a significant income, but what does that do for him?
In a sense, that's the point: you can't just look at a few figures and say 'gosh, what a great life this man clearly has'. When people want money, they generally want the freedom to do what they want, I don't think anyone would argue that Charles gets to live freely and do whatever he likes.

Incidentally, in the context of other things that he's written and said, his comments regarding evaluating the value of wealth are not in any sense targeted at those who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads or a turkey on their table at Christmas. It is the culture of materialistic greed (particularly in The City) that are the target. That is the materialism that has brought us to where we are, and that is the culture that keeps UK tax laws the way they are (a lot laxer than the nominal rates would make it appear) and it is that which keeps the poor of England in a more miserable condition than in any country in Western Europe.

Additionally, he is observing that describing poverty strictly in terms of nominal income is fallacious - as any scholar or poverty activist will tell you.

That's just it, though: Telling the common man to curb his spending while you're flying around the country in a gold-plated helicopter shows a distinct lack of self-awareness. Quoting Gandhi is just icing on the cake.

This is just nonsense though. Why is he flying around in a helicopter? Is it because he has a passion for flight? Because he has a golf game to rush to after giving some commoners a damn good thrashing? No. It's primarily for his charitable and state related activities.

No doubt he's better off than those that are barely getting by, but I'd rather have an ordinary middle class existence and the hours and stress associated with it than have his life.
But I don't suppose that anything could really stand up to the roiling tide of metafilter's republicanism.
posted by atrazine at 7:46 AM on November 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm indifferent to having a monachy, not having a politically-elected head of state swings it into the 'probably bearable' category. I don't particularly like the current family, but I'm not sure we could find a better candidate. I think Charles is entitled to his opinions like the rest of us, and I think he's aware far more than the rest of us about the implications of our monach spouting too much about politics. Remember he has been training for this job for 60 years.

But what I don't understand is why everyone seems to forget about The Princes Trust.
posted by Helga-woo at 7:49 AM on November 28, 2008


Oh, ok, I'm not the only one who knows about it.
posted by Helga-woo at 7:50 AM on November 28, 2008


Well, I tend to agree with the man and have been very well impressed with all his initiatives lately. Apparently he does a lot more than kissing sick children or parading designer dresses.

Also, some political analyst said that if he keeps voicing his opinions this will be the end of the monarchy. So, let him speak his mind.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 7:53 AM on November 28, 2008


Prince Philip has 51-year-old trousers altered to fit latest trend.

That's because he heard that is important that the man wear THE pants in the family.
posted by srboisvert at 7:59 AM on November 28, 2008


I don't hate him but I do dislike him because he is a rich idiot who through an accident of birth is given a platform to bang on about any issue that pops into his tiny mind.

Is it a 'platform to bang on about'? Or has his birth given him a position of influence that he is using for good (through his enormous charity works that were created from his 'tiny mind') and with good intentions to encourage activity which is good for the country as a whole (as in this speech).

Is he 'banging on'? Is his speech just the fabrication of a 'tiny mind'? If you really believe that, I assume you fundamentally disagree with his points in that speech. If not, then.... um... what was your point again? Is there a better person to say these things? Perhaps a politician that will just use it to further his own standing (and have his opponents attack elements and weaken the point to further theirs)? Or maybe a celebrity (who will only be taken seriously by those that buy their music/films/books).

Seriously. What exactly is the problem, here?
posted by Brockles at 8:03 AM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


The dude rolls with an entourage the size of a large circus. Strangely, it has only one clown.
posted by srboisvert at 8:03 AM on November 28, 2008


srboisvert, tell us some more of those - they're excellent. And maybe you could address the issues too while you're there...
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:09 AM on November 28, 2008


I fail to see any justification for that viewpoint. The Government runs the country for the Royal Family. Not instead of. Admittedly, the vast majority of the decisions are completely deferred to The PM and the Queen does very little to interfere in the interests of respecting Democracy (at least publicly) but the Government still does have to report to the Queen.

...and? He is not elected. Any attempt to influence politics in public or in private is subverting democracy. Well intentioned or otherwise he should shut his fscking mouth. The viewpoint justifies itself.
posted by vbfg at 8:20 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not unaware of the good work Prince Charles has done for charitable and environmental causes. I don't even think that what he said was wrong - just very unoriginal and uninspiring. Some woolly drivel about the simple lives of brown folk and how connected to nature they are, and how we should be connected to nature too, a quote from Gandhi that he probably found in an old issue of Readers' Digest, then some vaguely new agey criticism of unfeeling secularism, oh, and money can't buy happiness, man. Any patchouli-scented crystal-seller at your local weekend market will tell you essentially the same thing. And there'd be nothing of substance in that rant, either.

Anyway, I should stop criticizing the poor man - it's a form of abuse, don't you know?
posted by ShameSpiral at 8:25 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Don't get me wrong, I agree entirely with the message; I just think the Prince of Wales is exactly the wrong person to be delivering it. It's not a matter of Republicanism (I'm Canadian; aside from an old lady's face on my money, the Monarchy is immaterial), but of effective communication: That a message of conservative spending is coming from That Man In Particular, who has never had to save a penny in his life, devalues it tremendously.

It also might be worth asking why such a message needs to be delivered at all. Surely his subjects are intelligent enough to realize that less money might necessitate less spending.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


... I thought we were an anarcho-syndicalist collective.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:27 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


He is not elected. Any attempt to influence politics in public or in private is subverting democracy.

So... only the elected get to express a political opinion publicly.... and how then do they go about getting elected? That's a ridiculous comment.

That aside, I don't see how Charles is some special class of person who may not express an opinion.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:29 AM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


His cookies are admittedly good, and the Prince's Trust may indeed do some very good work, but Charlie has some very weird ideas about science. And frankly, hearing a toff talk approvingly of "ancient traditions" gives me the willies: if it was for ancient traditions, we'd still be his serfs.
posted by Skeptic at 8:30 AM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Seriously. What exactly is the problem, here?

I read ninebelow's comment as refering to Charles' speeches in general rather than this one in particular. For example, his views on alternative medicine, GM crops, architecture, etc have all been given airtime in the past, not because he has established any credibility to comment on said topics, but rather because of who his mum is.

It's ridiculous that a 21st century developed nation should retain a monarchy, or pay any particular heed to their ruminations because of who they happen to be.
posted by Jakey at 8:30 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The prince can fuck himself. I'm not going to be lectured by some jackass who was guaranteed a life of privilege from the moment he was born. If you think living sustainably is important, live sustainably, prick. But you don't--you just think it's important for people who aren't you to live sustainably.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:33 AM on November 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


Is he 'banging on'? Is his speech just the fabrication of a 'tiny mind'?

Against my better judgement I just started reading that speech to see if it anything other than the usual hippy bullshit he spouts. It isn't. He even capitalises Nature, for fuck's sake.

I agree that he has used his money and influence for good rather than bad. However, you'll forgive me for thinking that being the figurehead of a charity isn't that hard. The fact that lots of money is raised in his name doesn't mean I have to like or respect him as a person. Nor does it mean I have any interest in hearing about his views on organic farming, alternative medicine, the evils of mdoern architecture or whatever else has caught his attention this week.
posted by ninebelow at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


And he just gave Russell T Davies an OBE which is another black mark on his character.
posted by ninebelow at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to be lectured by some jackass who was guaranteed a life of privilege from the moment he was born. If you think living sustainably is important, live sustainably, prick.

So you only follow by example? Only advice from those which follow it to the letter is of worth to you?

Really.
posted by Brockles at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2008


To paraphrase a discredited linguist, "one doesn't turn against the Civil Rights anti-consumerism movement because you realize that business interests the prince is in favor of it. That's kind of not the point."
posted by klue at 8:42 AM on November 28, 2008


So you only follow by example? Only advice from those which follow it to the letter is of worth to you?

You're not suspicious of people who offer advice they don't follow, at all, or even make any attempt to follow, and furthermore offer no explanation whatsoever of why their advice is good enough for you but not good enough for them?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:43 AM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Having now actually read the speech in question, I decidedly do have a problem with it. The bold Prince appears to have trouble distinguishing between progress in knowledge through scientfic rationalism and progress as defined by economic and political interests, lumping them all together as "scientific Modernist rationalism." He then trots out some sophomoric platitudes about mistaking consumption for progress and follows up by throwing the scientific baby out with the economic bathwater, and spouts his usual dippy hippy shit about harmony with nature. The passage about Heisenberg and Pythagoras could be straight out of a Deepak Chopra tract.

Fuck off and tell it to your plants, Charlie.
posted by Jakey at 8:44 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was expecting criticism of consumerist materialism and I got that plus criticism of philosophical materialism. Sweet deal.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:46 AM on November 28, 2008


Yeah, the more philosophical bits were pretty weak. Least he's trying though.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:48 AM on November 28, 2008


I don't see how Charles is some special class of person who may not express an opinion.

You really don't see that? Well, the special class to which he belongs is called 'royalty', and, yes, we do expect persons belonging to that class to exercise restraint when expressing their opinions in public.
posted by ShameSpiral at 8:51 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


To paraphrase a discredited linguist, "one doesn't turn against the anti-consumerism movement because you realize that the prince is in favor of it. That's kind of not the point."

You're right, that's not the point. The point is that this is one of the instances where being Prince doesn't help his cause, but only serves to highlight the fact that he has no business whatsoever lecturing others on such matters. It's Jesus in jewels. It just doesn't work.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:54 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Prince Charles for benelovent dictator! Thai style democracy riots now! Overthrow the un-democratic political parties!

/only half joking
posted by asok at 8:58 AM on November 28, 2008


That aside, I don't see how Charles is some special class of person who may not express an opinion.

He's going to be King. He's a special class of person who may not express an opinion.
posted by vbfg at 9:03 AM on November 28, 2008


I think it's worth mentioning for the benefit of people not familiar with the UK's somewhat-baroque rules on the subject -- Charles is barred from elected office and is (probably) ineligible to vote.

Perhaps we can extend him the right to open his big trap as compensation.
posted by genghis at 9:03 AM on November 28, 2008


You're not suspicious of people who offer advice they don't follow, at all, or even make any attempt to follow, and furthermore offer no explanation whatsoever of why their advice is good enough for you but not good enough for them?

Oddly, I had the confidence to consider that I may assess the worth of that advice myself. With my own mind. Rather than blindly follow it (as long as, of course, they follow it themselves).
posted by Brockles at 9:06 AM on November 28, 2008


we do expect persons belonging to that class to exercise restraint when expressing their opinions in public.

Is that the 'royal we'?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:06 AM on November 28, 2008


Man, I really dont understand the hate for Prince Charles.

Hate? You interpretted hate from that?

Look, the point about Diana is beside the point. The fact is: a man born, raised and living in great privilege, whose wealth was built upon centuries of keeping people poor, decides to tell those of us hit hardest by the economic crisis to remember that money doesn't buy you happiness. That's swell. Good for you, Charles. Oh, but he pays taxes! He's just like us. Spare me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:08 AM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


He's going to be King. He's a special class of person who may not express an opinion.

Yes, we're aware that you think that. You said it earlier. You've still not actually addressed under what context your opinion holds any weight whatsoever, though.

Prince Charles for benelovent dictator!

/only half joking


On a number of occasions, I have thought that wouldn't be such a bad thing. He has his downsides and faults (as has everyone), but the amount of things that fail to go through in the UK because the initial hurt before the gain is longer than the 4 year election cycle is ridiculous. Having to instantly attempt to make huge changes so that the 'bad times' get forgotten by the next election cripple the governments (of both sides) from doing the more effective solutions, at times.
posted by Brockles at 9:09 AM on November 28, 2008


Is that the 'royal we'?

No, 'we' refers to those people who:

a)have Charles's mother as their Queen, and will one day have Charles as their king, and
b)understand the proper role of a monarch in a constitutional monarchy.
posted by ShameSpiral at 9:21 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


On a personal level, sometimes they don't appear particularly excessive in their spending: Prince Philip has 51-year-old trousers altered to fit latest trend.

I will bet you a dollar that he spent way more to get his trousers altered than a new pair of perfectly-decent-quality trousers cost. So while it has a virtue of reusing something, indicative of thriftiness it is not.

And, yes, getting lectured about consumerism by someone living at that level of privilege is like being lectured by a whore about the importance of chastity. Even if the speaker is right, the act of them speaking itself borders the offensive.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:25 AM on November 28, 2008


They must have an interest in politics, as if the government and the PM starts to act against the country's best interests, they need to be aware of that to stop them.

Practice safe government - use a kingdom!
posted by DreamerFi at 9:29 AM on November 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Today is buy nothing day!!
posted by jeffburdges at 9:30 AM on November 28, 2008


the Government still does have to report to the Queen. After all, it is their country (of which the populous and government are subjects) and not liking that doesn't make it any less true.

Well, not to get all facty about it, but it's very much not their country at all. Aside from the undeniable fact that, "Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government," there's also the question of the actual Britishness of the current crop of Royals. When Charles ascends, the House of Windsor (né Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a bunch of Bavarians) will give way to the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Not exactly Smith, that.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2008


It also might be worth asking why such a message needs to be delivered at all. Surely his subjects are intelligent enough to realize that less money might necessitate less spending.

You might think so, but then contrast against the response to the financial crisis from the British government - reducing sales tax (VAT) to get people spending again.


This tax cut is temporary, I might add - wait for an increase to above current levels this time next year. Oh, and watch the duties that have been raised in compensation so that alcohol and tobacco don't benefit from the VAT cut. I'll bet £10 that they don't get reduced when VAT jumps back up again.

/soapbox
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 9:49 AM on November 28, 2008


When Charles ascends, the House of Windsor (né Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a bunch of Bavarians) will give way to the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Not exactly Smith, that.

How does that stop them owning the country? I wasn't making any claim as to their pureblood Britishness.
posted by Brockles at 9:50 AM on November 28, 2008


I don't suppose that anything could really stand up to the roiling tide of metafilter's republicanism.

I can't speak for anyone else, but for myself, that is absolutely 100% spot-on correct.

When Charlie Windsor renounces his inherited privilege, distributes his assets to charity, gets plastic surgery and emigrates to a new country to being life as an ordinary citizen, perhaps some time after that I will be surprised and delighted by news of good work done by a hitherto unknown person. But until then, he can get bent. And that goes double for his even more parasitic relatives.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:47 AM on November 28, 2008


You've still not actually addressed under what context your opinion holds any weight whatsoever, though.

I'm a citizen of a relevant country.

hth
posted by vbfg at 10:51 AM on November 28, 2008


a quote from Gandhi that he probably found in an old issue of Readers' Digest

Yep. And I'd be interested in a precise attribution. It's generally attributed to Gandhi, but a look at Google Books finds no sign of it until the late 1960s, after Gandhi had become a counter-cultural icon. No-one ever says what newpaper the reporter came from and when the exchange took place. Looks like a "Hillfinger".
posted by raygirvan at 10:53 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


we do expect persons belonging to that class to exercise restraint when expressing their opinions in public.

No, 'we' refers to those people who:

a)have Charles's mother as their Queen, and will one day have Charles as their king, and
b)understand the proper role of a monarch in a constitutional monarchy.


Ah, well, as a member of the set of people you're calling 'we', I don't expect any such thing.

Firstly, he isn't yet, and may never be, the monarch, and thus presumably isn't bound by whatever rules (and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we're talking tradition here rather than any legal prohibition) the current monarch is subject to.

Secondly, provided he's expressing political opinions in the general sense, and not in the party-political sense, I see no conflict of interest (the issue with partisan politics being that the government is technically appointed by the monarch).

To prohibit anyone, royalty or not, from making any statement in public that could be construed as 'political' in the sense of expressing an opinion about the environment, global poverty, the right of aspidistras to be treated as persons, or whatever, is tantamount to cutting out their tongue.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:59 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yay, I got to say 'tantamount'!
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:00 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


You've still not actually addressed under what context your opinion holds any weight whatsoever, though.

I'm a citizen of a relevant country.


And that automatically gives your unqualified opinions the status of fact how exactly?

(sorry for hogging the thread)
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:03 AM on November 28, 2008


I'm a citizen of a relevant country.

Big deal. So am I. I still think you have no basis for your opinion at all.
posted by Brockles at 11:18 AM on November 28, 2008


Have the people who are criticizing him actually read or heard the speech? It's quite good (even if you find yourself unconvinced by his argument), and in no way is he implicating "the common man" or telling "the common man" to curb his spending. Where did that idea come from? It's just not in what he's saying. He's arguing against a pervasive worldview that he believes has been guiding industrialized nations for hundreds of years and has led to many, many problems that he believes are best addressed by altering the system that created them.

This is kind of the opposite, in fact, of pointing to just one part of the system and saying, "A-ha! There's your problem. Fix that, and it's all fixed."

A representative portion:

This is why, for example, the curved streets of towns became straight matrices and why we have so many buildings grouped into single-use zones, including those for living - most noxious of all, those high rise blocks of flats which, throughout the 1960s and 70s, became the living quarters – indeed ghettos – for thousands of people in every city across Europe and the United States.

Removed from their communities, people were accommodated in these brand new, convenient, concrete cul-de-sacs in the sky, and lo and behold, when their newness quickly faded those areas all decayed into violent and soul-destroying ghettos with no sense of place, nor any capacity to nurture community. And guess what is happening now in the new cities springing up in China and India? As they doggedly follow the Western pattern of forty years ago people are, once again, compelled by forces beyond their control to leave their farms and their communities to seek housing where they end up living like factory-farmed chickens in those self same, high-rise, soulless, mechanical boxes. Thus are millions more people condemned to the same toxic future.


Criticizing trends in city planning with negative consequences is not the same as criticizing the citizens caught up in those negative consequences. Whether you think his argument is convincing is one thing, but to construe it as an admonishment towards the comman man is simply not correct.

He's knocking the system, not the victims of the system.
posted by Nonce at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brockles is making truly, excellently wonderful points.

As is abundantly clear from the spectacularly eventful 20th and 21st centuries, the one indispensable virtue of granting hereditary nearly absolute authority, great privilege, and great immunity to a single individual, the monarch, is to effectively limit and deny the acquisition of these very dangerous powers by multiple other individuals and entities, namely the merchant princes, such as Trump, Lay, Pickens, Gates, Buffett, Soros, Prince (and so on), and, above all, the corporations.

In England, at least, corporations initially were formed only under a royal charter and could be dissolved at will by the monarch.

In the absence of that restraining hand, corporations have become potentially immortal monsters that have succeeded in enslaving much of humanity as they plunge toward catastrophes that will reduce the very capacity of the planet to sustain human life.

I have a feeling Charles recognizes this.

More power to him.
posted by jamjam at 11:57 AM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Trump, Lay, Pickens, Gates, Buffett, Soros, Prince (and so on)

Prince? Man, I totally hope we're thinking about the same guy.
posted by box at 12:31 PM on November 28, 2008


Why can't he just stand on Hyde Park Corner like everyone else who wants to get on their hobbyhorse?

He has a bigger soapbox. I will always take the biggest platform I can find to spread my ideals. As far as what he is saying bravo. He is at the top of the mountain. It takes some courage to stand up there and tell everyone else what he sees. He isn't saying don't climb up here - he is saying lets tear down the mountain.
posted by Glibpaxman at 12:39 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Rumsfeld was then still focused on his much-ballyhooed "transformation" in warfare. He was intent on creating a Military Lite -- the most pared down, totally agile, completely networked, highest of all high-tech forces that was going to make the U.S.

Lean, eh? Yet Rumsfeld isn't but one of the army of salesman who sold the idea that it was going to be lean and fast, a contemporary version of blitzkrieg, because the Iraquis would have welcomed the U.S. with open hands, throw flowers at soldiers and immediately learn how to run a democracy, as if distribution of power and balances thereof could appear overnight after dozen years of centralized autocracy.

None of this was new, one could have just opened some book about WWII. The german army was able to see the pinnacles of the Kremlin when they almost reached Moscow, a clear sign that the utter speed of blitzkrieg technique was succesfull at bringing the army close to political power centers. Yet the same people that propaganda painted as subhumans also exploited the simple fact that keeping an invading army refueled and resupplied so deep in an enormous enemy territory is a logistical nightmare. Combine this problem with russian winter and being streched thin over many fronts, and the project to replace the current tzar with a new one (people would probably have just adapted to a new commander in chief) fails if you don't do it quickly enough and place some popular tzar, someone who people like and is able to deliver order and goods.

On top of this, as it was probably very well understood that there was no immediate replacement for Saddam, it also was abundantly clear that the U.S. should have remained for quite some time. Except that the U.S. was even more despised than Saddam , so enter some exiled King that's unknown to the masses who are used to tyrans : how curious, it doesn't work!

Yet, as the military industrial complex learned well from Vietnman, a war political failure doesn't imply failure in profiting : the cost remains on the public shoulders to carry, who at best gained a few years of employment in weapons factories, hardly the same as New Deal and not as big as a WWII mobilization.
posted by elpapacito at 5:07 PM on November 28, 2008


What I like best is that he isn't speaking to the "common man" nor is this a public speech. It was addressed to the Media, the Foreign Press Association to be exact, with a clear agenda in his mind, viz.,


It is surely your role not only to look at the world and study the way it works, but to report what you see accurately, to explain it and, indeed, to interpret it. In so doing you shape the view and define the perspective of millions of people and that is an enormous responsibility – a responsibility I know that many of you in this room fulfil with integrity and flair.
[...]
By this stage in the proceedings you may well be asking what on earth I am trying to get at. You may believe that I have some curious and reactionary obsession with returning to a kind of mock Medieval, forelock-tugging past. In fact all I am saying is that we simply cannot contend with the global environmental crises we face by relying on clever technological “fixes” on their own. It is, as the conservationist Aldo Leopold has put it, like fixing the pump without fixing the well. We have to alter our perspective of the world and to begin to realize that Modernism on its own is in fact unfit for purpose in the twenty-first century.

posted by infini at 5:22 PM on November 28, 2008


if im reading this right, and i like to think i am, he is criticizing modernism but not promoting postmodernism. While postmodernism is the ultimate meta philosophy, Charles wants us to move beyond the 20th century debate and into something new. If I had to give it a name (and i dont really want to but for sake of conversation) I would say "naturalism."

It makes sense. If we continue debating the merits of modernism, when by most accounts we have taken it to its extreme edge and found it debilitating, we are arguing when we should be acting. Frameworks for philosophical movements are set up many years after society begins operating in them. Modernism as a framework began with the invention of the steam engine but was only concretely and widely understood by the late 19th century. Whatever this naturalism is we need to just start doing it and those that follow after us will figure out what we did.
posted by Glibpaxman at 6:14 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fact is: a man born, raised and living in great privilege, whose wealth was built upon centuries of keeping people poor, decides to tell those of us hit hardest by the economic crisis to remember that money doesn't buy you happiness.

Charles might know that last bit better than most of us. He had all the money and power in the world and still carried on an extensive affair with a woman who wasn't a good "match" for marriage while having children with another woman in a horrible relationship just to father children to continue the royal, jowly bloodline.

Dude doesn't seem to have had the "happiest" life. I'm not crying him a river or playing the world's smallest violin for him, merely pointing out that having all of the money in the world didn't solve any of HIS problems.

As for the rest, the dude kind of says it himself:
Needless to say, when I have spoken of these things I have been shot at from all sides – the natural consequence, I suppose, of having the temerity to challenge the status quo of scientific Modernist rationalism.

Yes, Chuck. Having the temerity to be The Prince of Wales while also challenging "The Man" rubs the status quo the wrong way.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:27 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


He had all the money and power in the world and still carried on an extensive affair with a woman who wasn't a good "match" for marriage while having children with another woman in a horrible relationship just to father children to continue the royal, jowly bloodline.

Good job he didn't ask for advice about this on AskMe. Unlike here on the blue, I suspect that the Divine Right of Kings wouldn't carry much weight in those parts.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:47 AM on November 30, 2008


srboisvert, tell us some more of those - they're excellent. And maybe you could address the issues too while you're there...

Sure, I'll tell you my reasons for Royal HateOn. I am a Canadian. When these Royals come into town we pick up the tab for everything. Parks are cleaned up, new flowers planted, security paid for, roads shut down, accommodations, transport and food provided. These things happen in conjunction with cutbacks to education, health care, social services and just about everything else. This for a few people who were born lucky. What value do Canadians recieve in return? A plain old mug to put on some currency and a couple of hundred years of exploitative colonial history. That's all I can think of.

Germans have more rights in the UK than Canadians despite Canadians being with the English in two wars we could have just as easily sat out. And by Germans I mean the royal family of course. Commonwealth is a bit of misnomer.

Here in Brum, where i now live, the exact same thing happens when Charles and Camilla come to town. The council drops everything and plants flowers and cleans exactly the spaces that the royals will occupy because heaven forbid the Royal family see just how ugly and poor parts of Birmingham are when they are not around (not that they ever go anywhere near those places). They all come out in their fancy dress and stand for photos and smile and eat cheese. How delightful! How merry! Yet they routinely hide from their own citizens and avoid public consultation.

Charles wants to talk about life without ever really having a clue how people in his country actually live. He has never walked past a bus stop filled with cider drinking yobs. He has never had to get out of the way of teenage moms pushing prams. He might not have ever even seen litter except out a car window. I'm certain he has never had to look for a garbage bin. He has never had to shop at Iceland or poundstretcher.

If he wants to talk about what is the biggest problem in England it is really easy. The problem is him. The problem is the incredible class system and entrenched wealth that locks most people out of opportunity from the moment they are born.

He opens his mouth and even if he has something great to say all I can think is "Get the fuck out of the way and let people who have earned it have the microphone". Then you can take the quotes away when you write "progress".
posted by srboisvert at 2:05 PM on November 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


srboisvert, I'd be quite surprised if the Royals have the equivalent of a band's 'rider'. All this planting of flowers and tidying up is ostensibly done by the local council in the name of 'civic pride', but it's much more about self-promotion and attracting investment into the area. It certainly has nothing to do with some old-fashioned idea of gaining royal favour or fawning over the toffs.

Yes, it's incongruous to have someone like Charles addressing us about the world's problems, given that he leads such a privileged life, but I think Glibpaxman makes a valid point when he talks about a 'bigger soapbox'. I'm sure that very few politicians have any real day-to-day experience of the social ills that face ordinary people either, but I'd hope that won't stop them discussing them and trying to address them.

The class culture in the UK is really in a sharp decline - as a working-class child of the 70s I think I already saw it as something to be associated only with middle-aged people in sitcoms. The Thatcher years did their best to redefine social status in terms of wealth and power. Today I know a few kids in their teens who have little notion of 'class' at all, or rather consider their society to be entirely stratified by wealth, location, religious/cultural differences and celebrity.

I suspect Royalty will eventually die a slow death of increasing irrelevance.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:51 AM on December 1, 2008


Charles wants to talk about life without ever really having a clue how people in his country actually live. He has never walked past a bus stop filled with cider drinking yobs. He has never had to get out of the way of teenage moms pushing prams. He might not have ever even seen litter except out a car window. I'm certain he has never had to look for a garbage bin. He has never had to shop at Iceland or poundstretcher.

So when he talks about urban planning, and how separating a city into single-use zones that split where people live, work, shop, and find entertainment is a bad idea that tends to create ghettos, he's wrong because he doesn't actually live in the ghettos?

If he wants to talk about what is the biggest problem in England it is really easy. The problem is him. The problem is the incredible class system and entrenched wealth that locks most people out of opportunity from the moment they are born.

Okay, but even if what he's talking about is just the second--or third, or fourth--biggest problem, does that mean he shouldn't talk about it?

I really don't see how the fact that cities tend to invest in civic beautification projects and security for important personages when they visit--or when they host important events like the Olympics--merits all this hostility.

I'd like to think that if I was born poor and black, I'd be judged by what I did, not the circumstances surrounding my birth. Or if my father was a rapist, thief, and murderer, I'd like to think that I could get a fair shake on my own terms and not be condemned on that basis alone.

And since I'd like for that to be the case, I can't see why I shouldn't also give a fair shake to the kids of really rich people with power and authority and lives of ease, too.
posted by Nonce at 2:06 PM on December 1, 2008


I'd like to think that if I was born poor and black, I'd be judged by what I did, not the circumstances surrounding my birth. Or if my father was a rapist, thief, and murderer, I'd like to think that I could get a fair shake on my own terms and not be condemned on that basis alone.

Royalty: The Last Minority.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:09 PM on December 1, 2008


Royalty: The Last Minority.

Or perhaps, "Royalty: Just because they have an opinion doesn't mean it's wrong."
posted by Nonce at 6:16 PM on December 1, 2008


"Royalty: Just because they have an opinion doesn't mean it's wrong, unless it is Prince Charles voicing it in which case it will invariably be idiotic."

Or if my father was a rapist, thief, and murderer, I'd like to think that I could get a fair shake on my own terms and not be condemned on that basis alone.

Yeah, but you'd probably have to renounce his actions rather than follow in his footsteps. With your strained analogies you are ignoring the fact that although Prince Charles can't help the position he was born into, as an adult it is entirely within his power to change that position. Royalty isn't race.
posted by ninebelow at 5:20 AM on December 2, 2008


See ninebelow, I guess I differ with you there. If I was born into a rich family, I don't think it's a given that I would divest myself of all of the advantages that gave me. In fact, I think I would probably use those advantages. Hopefully for something good or at least relatively harmless, like an organic farming business.

But that's just me.
posted by Nonce at 7:03 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


And, maybe I shouldn't have said anything. I don't have a dog in this fight. Outside of this post, my exposure to the British family lies entirely in references made in episodes of Masterpiece Theater and advertisements for Princess Di commemorative plates years and years ago. It just seemed that many or most people posting here were dog piling the guy without any justification other than his birth. Skimming through what I could about the things he's done, I haven't noticed much worse than any other celebrity, and I definitely noticed a lot that was a lot better. His speech gets all hand-wavy toward the end, but hey, it's his speech, and it's not bad. And as much as it may ruffle your feathers, I do think rich kids deserve to be treated as individuals, and I do think it really is the mirror image of treating poor kids with the same respect.

Let me try again, but more succinctly:

In America, we have Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. I'd trade them both for Prince Charles in a heartbeat. Britain (and apparently Canada) must not know how good they have it.
posted by Nonce at 7:14 AM on December 2, 2008


We obviously disagree and I don't want to draw this out any longer but being royalty is very different from just being rich and those of us who are subjects rather than citizens tend to feel this difference quite keenly.
posted by ninebelow at 9:51 AM on December 3, 2008


lets try a shift of perspective shall we, as a mere thought exercise, what would life be like in his shoes?

i'd rather be me, poor man.

imagine not being able to marry the woman you love

imagine not being able to just retire and become an armchair philosopher and mayhaps even blog

imagine not being able to share a single thought wihtout the proportion of responses being the way this thread was

just imagine

was it his fault he was born into privilege?

did he ask for it?
posted by infini at 12:08 PM on December 8, 2008


i'd rather be me, poor man.

I'd rather be him, rich man.

imagine not being able to marry the woman you love

...because you are already married to someone else.

imagine not being able to just retire

...having never been in the workforce...

and become an armchair philosopher and mayhaps even blog

...instead opting to orate from behind a podium.

imagine not being able to share a single thought

...with a packed audience...

wihtout the proportion of responses being the way this thread was

just imagine
was it his fault he was born into privilege?
did he ask for it?


Could he opt out?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:01 PM on December 8, 2008


Won't somebody think of the wealthy?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:19 PM on December 8, 2008


imagine not being able to marry the woman you love

...because you are already married to someone else.


after he had to break up with her, then she married someone else, so then he did too

anyway

it doesn't matter

the biggest advantage these days is that nobody has to like you for your words to spread and be read

chuck spaghetti on the wall
posted by infini at 2:58 PM on December 8, 2008


magine not being able to marry the woman you love

Yeah that was a tragedy... but luckily he still able to shag her before, during and after his arranged marriage.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


so in this bastion of free speech and open minded willingness to evaluate and discuss ideas on there own merits ...
posted by infini at 10:45 AM on December 9, 2008


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