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All in the (royal) family

The Local · 26 Apr 2011, 11:37

Published: 26 Apr 2011 11:37 GMT+02:00

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When Queen Elizabeth came to Berlin in 2004, I was approached by some quite serious people asking whether I could, perhaps, use my influence to get them into the gala banquet or at least into the reception at the philharmonic.

Needless to say, these petitioners had not fully realised how low I stand in the British social pecking order. It was like asking the owner of an Italian gelateria in Duisburg to arrange an audience with the Pope on the grounds that both men sometimes lived in Rome. A hopeless undertaking.

Interestingly enough, two of the requests came from centre-left Social Democrats, and not even from some nerdy conservatives longing to restore the Hohenzollerns to the throne. Both lefties blamed the Queen-fascination on their wives, but I wasn’t fooled. Germans are just suckers for royalty; it is a nation of closeted monarchists.

Is that sad? Of course. A supposedly proud proletarian city like Berlin throws itself at the feet of just about anyone with an exotic title. It was no different, I am told when Queen Elizabeth came in 1965. And, on a more modest scale, Queen Beatrix recently had a similar effect in the German capital.

I can’t think of any other community outside the Netherlands that is so fascinated by Beatrix and her strange taste in hats. During her visit to Germany she seemed to be wearing a frying pan on her head. The obvious thing about Beatrix and Elizabeth is that they are both hardworking ladies who, despite being multi-millionaires, give the impression of being central European housewives with bad dress sense.

Now we are bracing for more peculiar hats and beefy princes and smeared make-up: Britain’s royal wedding this Friday. This is the moment when Germans get to compare all the terrible royal families of the world, weep a little at the arrival of a newly-minted Princess Catherine and fret that her decent middle class family is going to be corrupted by its brush with blue blood. Just take a look at who’s coming.

The thuggish King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa – unless he has to stay at home and order the shooting of demonstrators demanding democracy. And Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf should be able to make the nuptials; his sex parties were always on a Monday, or after his hunting trips, so his Fridays are free.

I do hope William and Kate will find room on the Westminster Abbey bench for Prince Laurent of Belgium who famously had his dead dog put in a freezer. And for Prince Henrik, husband of the Danish queen, who has been telling everyone how much he likes to eat dogs. If I were one of Queen Elizabeth’s corgis I would avoid the wedding banquet.

Of course, we can only hope that Prince Ernst August of Hannover arrives in a good mood and that the music isn’t too loud; his cousins in Buckingham Palace should know by now how sensitive he is to such things.

All these people will be welcoming or pretending to welcome Kate Middleton into the extended family, and she may be wondering whether it was worth the price.

Perhaps that is the appeal of royalty to the Germans: they can envy the wealth on display but criticise the dress sense and the twisted mentality of inbred monarchs. Almost everyone has a black sheep in the family but royal clans have whole flocks of them.

Take Prince Andrew, uncle to Kate’s new husband William. He has been dallying with dictators for years. And his ex-wife Sarah Fergusson was recently caught asking for over half a million euros to organise a meeting between a businessman and Andrew. She won’t be at the wedding, since she has been informally banned from the family. A few centuries ago she would have had her head chopped off, so I suppose she considers herself lucky. Has anything like that happened in the Middleton family? I suspect not.

Story continues below…

The big mistake of British royalty, apart from stopping the very popular public executions, was to brand itself as a family. It has been known for ages that the queens of England prefer dogs to their children, and the kings prefer mistresses to their queens. The essential thing was not to talk about it.

Then the media era pressed the Windsors and other European royal houses to present themselves as happy families, just like you and me. Suddenly ordinary people were asking whether Queen Elizabeth was a good mother, or whether her husband Prince Philip was a nice father-in-law.

It became painfully obvious that the Windsors and most of their cousins scattered around the world were as dysfunctional as the Simpsons (that's the cartoon, not the American divorcee wife of Edward VII).

All I can say to Germans is enjoy the show. The House of Windsor is, after all, just the renamed House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. So perhaps Germany can rightfully claim them as its own royal family.

But if your teenage daughters start to cut their hair like Kate Middleton, or your son expresses an interest in playing polo, then throw them out of the house. They need role models who have succeeded on their own merits, not because of their Germanic gene pool.

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Your comments about this article

14:53 April 26, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
Rather bitter aren't we?

Didn't get an invite, Roger? :-)
15:09 April 26, 2011 by jbaker
Time to treat All Humanity as Equals. If The Royal Servants would just walk out and stop Serving these Illusionary People, then this Obsurdity would end. I do not Bow to Anyone and neither should Anyone else. Change is Good and Necessary.
16:35 April 26, 2011 by trash head
He has a donkey face :I
19:10 April 26, 2011 by Loth
I am still waiting for prince Charlie to come back. Just kidding.
12:08 April 27, 2011 by Zobirdie
This article does seem rather bitter.

I think it is about pageantry and spectacle; something lacking in many of our lives. We want to believe in fairy tales. If we didnt, Disney/Hollywood would be out of work. This story is even better. Her family background isnt 'special'. He is one of the most famous bachelors of his generation. He could literally have anyone... (Though I personally would prefer his brother!)

I think its wonderful to have a dream and a moment(if only by watching) in the really big show!
17:29 April 27, 2011 by jmclewis
Who are the world most wealthy welfare recipients?
18:21 April 27, 2011 by hOU
15:31 April 28, 2011 by jbaker
The British Royals are from German Stock - are they not? The last non-German Blood Royal was Queen Anne in the early 1700's.
18:21 April 28, 2011 by vossy
@ J baker - yes you are correct, they are from German and Greek stock (Prince Phillip).

All you read in the papers, see on television and hear on the radio is this bloody wedding. There is a public holiday tomorrow (Friday) because of it and most of the shops are closing at lunchtime - WHY? There are millions of us who couldn't give a toss about this wedding, so he might be King one day - big deal, he will have no power, now if he did have power and could execute most of the government I would be interested and would love an invite but he doesn't and he can't, some of us have better things to do.
18:49 April 28, 2011 by vonkoenigsberg
"succeeded on their own merits, not because of their Germanic gene pool." That's fantastic - they are only rich and powerful because they are Germans. A little biased, but I like it.

Germans just feel a little short-changed because we had monarchs (Hohenzollerns) but they were forced to abdicate after losing the Great War, and the victors were allowed to keep theirs on as figureheads. That might be why this article sounds bitter.
19:35 April 28, 2011 by JAMessersmith
Germans are bitter because practically every other country in Europe has a German monarch, except for them. But really, it's better that way. I'm pretty sure that if Queen Elizabeth II had been made empress of Germany, she'd be a brutal warlord.
23:40 April 28, 2011 by Slug
@vossy - agree completely, I'd be interested to see how may Brits will be watching from 6am tomorrow morning. I wish them well but I won't be watching and don't care if Kate happens to wear a binbag dressed in sequins or Willy turns up totally wasted. What's spoilt it for me is the complete media overkill, when will they learn that the majority of the UK doesn't really care. I was hoping to go shopping but I hear a shed load of shops will be closing early, so I think I will be going to Whitby for the day instead, only problem being is that I guess I will not be alone.
22:30 April 29, 2011 by dubtub
The worldwide fascination with the British Royal family is the most intriguing puzzle I can imagine. This dysfunctional family has immense wealth and influence and a slavish devotion from its subjects, all based on an hereditary principle. Would the post of President of the European Central Bank be given to Monsieur Trichet's son? This undemocratic farce does not belong in a so-called modern, freedom-loving Western democracy.

In addition, anybody can marry into the Royal Family and eventually become Queen, except of course if she is a Catholic - this is prohibited by Act of Parliament. Would the world react with disgust if the German Government prevented its Chancellor from marrying a Jew? No need to answer - but this blatant slur on Catholics has been perpetuated for centuries at the very pinnacle of British power. What a family!!!
03:27 April 30, 2011 by Domdeone
Hah the more I read Rogers feature the more he exposed himself as the uninvited, envious correspondant.

On uninvited guests thank god fergie wasnt there and as for our former buffoon PM Gordon brown he can rot in hell for what he has done to Britain along with blair. And to think Brown had the gall to critisize the german economy on last years visit.. sorry got it off my chest
12:06 April 30, 2011 by Buntspecht
On envy

Dear Roger Boys,

Some time ago the Guardian run an article on British crumble with the line ¦quot;the British way with autumn fruit is the envy of the world¦quot;. I checked with a good number of people from various non-Anglo-Saxon countries: None of them knew much about this British delicacy or why they should envy it. A similar fallacy seems to be here with your judgement that ¦quot;the Germans¦quot; envy the wedding (or the Brits for their royals). A few friends and I here in Berlin celebrated yesterday in style watching the BBC, enjoying crustless cucumber sarnies and scrumptious scones with clotted cream. We had a great time. And do you know mainly why?


Cheerful & completely envy-free greetings from ROYAL WEDDING (the one in Berlin)
06:20 May 1, 2011 by wenddiver
Across the US, TVs were tuned in, in Government Offices. Fox news that Bastion of Republican politics ran the entire thing.
23:22 May 1, 2011 by ronasch
@vossy Prince Phillip's family was called von Battenburg until the First World War when all these German freeloaders became English. I am impressed by Otto von Habsburg though who just retired at 98. Bring back the Holy RomanEmpire! Napoleon really screwed Europe up whe he abolished that organization.
10:53 May 2, 2011 by Gaffers
Some people are just filled with negativity. It makes them feel better if they spew hate and disdain instead of anything positive. Sad but true. They would rather rant on the internet then doing anything positive.

Racism and xenophobia is, apparently, alive and well looking at all the references about this nationality or that nationality.

Oh and for those that think the majority of the UK were not interested why were there 25m people watching the wedding? Why did people flock to the capital? Don't take your disinterest as representative. Obviously it isn't.
15:43 May 2, 2011 by philster61
What are the Germans complaining about? They already have a Royal family. They live between WIndsor Palace and Buckingham palace.. And sometimes Balmoral in Scotland....
19:20 May 3, 2011 by domoresti
I missed the wedding as I was reading Trotsky at the time.
19:59 May 3, 2011 by vonkoenigsberg
@Gaffers-Discussing the aspects and consequences of race in society is not racist. In this case, we are talking about the hereditary line of the British monarchy. How is that racist? Refering to a different ethnic group or race is exactly that - a reference (and an accurate one at that). How else do we refer to Germans or British or anyone else without mentioning their nationality or ethnic origin? It would be impossible to talk about anyone.
21:12 May 4, 2011 by Slug
25m people watching the wedding? That's a similar number of people who used to watch Eastenders in its heyday, wasn't it?
05:44 May 6, 2011 by DOZ
The Throne belongs to Germans.
20:07 May 6, 2011 by Jerr-Berlin
...it never ends with the POMS does it? ...let's bring back Cromwell, Churchill and Sommerset Maugham..

give me a bloody break...
06:43 May 9, 2011 by lordkorner
Been Irish I couldn't believe my luck a few years ago when the tram I was travelling in was stopped to allow the queen pass by,I finally got to give her the finger (royal wave) in person.In was done in the best of taste, quietly and discreetly and it felt good.
05:02 May 31, 2011 by Scottrocks9
This guy is the worst columnist I have ever read in my life. They pay him for this trash. He is another shameless Brit ridiculing Germans but what has his country achieved in the last 60 years on a world stage? Nothing. Export all Britain's third-rate unemployed to Los Angeles to appear on American reality TV shows. That's about it.
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