According to recent revelations, Prince William almost left university halfway through his course. This is one of those stories that's supposed to make us realise that they're a normal family, as if his dad sat him down and said: "Now you listen here my boy, you've no idea of the sacrifices I've made so you can get a good education. I've been working myself silly with overtime so you can have all the opportunities I never had.''
It might be different if he had dropped out properly and gone to live in a squat in Camden and set up a pirate radio station. That would be modernising the royals, if teenagers throughout north London were listening to DJ Windsor coming to one on 98.6, keeping one real all night every night, sending out a big up for the republican massive, would one care for a rewind?
One suggestion is that he only considered dropping out because be was distraught after his girlfriend dumped him. But can you blame her, if she had to meet his family? The first time she went round she probably had Philip bellowing: "Hasn't got much in the way of an arse, has she boy? I tell you what, William, I hope you make a better job of picking 'em than your dad, right bloody pig's ear he's made of the last two."
Even the nature of the girlfriend was anything but normal. They met because they shared a love for polo. If she was his proper teenage girlfriend he'd have taken her to the fair or sat in her room playing records while her brother came in every five minutes to glare at him. It's not normal for boys to say to their girlfriends: "Tonight for a change, instead of going down the arcade, why don't we nip down Sandringham to see if the Duke of Norfolk's team beats the Marquis of Gloucester's."
Polo, in itself, is proof of the insecurity of the monarchy. No one beyond aristocratic circles can even watch, let alone play, as they couldn't abide the prospect of fans chanting: "Can you hear the Spencers sing, woo-o, woo-o.'' This is because, if the royals played football or cricket or anything that ordinary people do, it would quickly become obvious that commoners could do things better than them and the myth of natural superiority would be shattered.
So as ever, the revelations that have slipped out beyond official royal statements have confirmed that this family is as abnormal as ever. For example, it seems William has a servant who wakes him every morning with his favourite biscuit. This is the sort of thing that demonstrates the futility of trying to modernise them. Natural superiority is the only rationale for a royal family, so they must be woken with a daily biscuit.
Far from hiding this sort of behaviour it should be live every morning on BBC1, with David Dimbleby going: "And here he is, the ninth equerry of the order of the grand Hobnob. And there he is, nudging the heir to the throne. And there we go, he's awake, and any moment now, oh I still get so excited by this, that's it, we have the royal dunk, well isn't that marvellous."
Even more impressive, it seems he has someone to run his bath every morning at exactly the right temperature, which is two degrees lower than his evening bath, in which he prefers a longer soak. But what happens during his soak, when the water must inevitably get cooler with time? Does the servant keep adding hot water? Surely not, as this could cause temporary discomfort in the bits of body closest to the tap until the hot water merged with the rest.
This is why it's ridiculous when royalists say "so what would you put in the monarchy's place'' and pick holes in every suggested republican system. Because it ignores the central objection to monarchy, which is it's sodding mental. You might as well have a system in which the head of state was the hedgehog in the land with the most prickles and if anyone complained you say: "Oh yes, it's easy to find fault but what would you put in its place?"
But none of this means the monarchy is about to disappear, because in one respect it has become utterly modern. For the highest celebrity status is now awarded to people who've done nothing except be in the media. Read an autocue or sit in a televised house or do something anyone could do, and if everyone knows you did it that is deemed to be success.
The feudal philosophy of worthiness being inherited and the enlightenment ideal of merit being open to anyone who can fight to the top of society have merged into one. Prince William is on the telly and pursued by the paparazzi, therefore he's a success in modern terms. To complete this process the next state opening of parliament should begin with Black Rod yelling: "Here's your host - Davina McCaaaallll.'' Then Davina could wave her arms and scream, "We've got absolutely hundreds of MPs here. It's absolutely bonkers. I'm soooo excited, and in this envelope I've got soooo much legislation - whatever you do don't go away."Reuse content