A Royal Tale

With one exception, I take no interest in Royalty.  

And to the extent that they ever cross my mind, Im not so much bothered by what they impose on us as the other way around: after all, would not Prince Charles have been much happier living out his days as an obscure green-wellied eccentric, and might not Di still be with us if so?  These are human rights issues, of sorts.

So I was surprised to find myself intrigued by the first episode of a British TV drama series entitled "Victoria" on PBS, about that long-enduring Monarch. The episode concerned her ascencion to the throne, and it told her story as allegory. 

As her father's only child, and given that none of his brothers had legitimate surviving sons, she found herself, by those accidents, first in line to the throne. And she became Queen at just 18, having been raised until then by schemers who'd held her in deeply suppressed seclusion, hoping thereby to become indispensable to--to control--her once she became Queen. 

Despite or because of that upbringing, she responded as do most teenagers by kicking wildly as soon as she could no longer be stopped, in her case, by virtue of having become Sovereign.  

And therein lies the allegory.

Because her oppressed upbringing lit in her a burning insistence to be heard, to count, and an undiscriminating suspicion of the motives of those on whom she'd depended, not entirely unlike many teenagers.

And she found, upon her father's death, that having lived completely powerlessly up to that point, she'd suddenly acquired total-power, at court and at large, as eventually happens, though perhaps not quite so literally or so dramatically, to all teenagers. 

But, unawares, she was kicking in a context which could not withstand it. Britain, then, was politically immature, utterly dependent on the Crown's sobriety. 

Its fragility paralyzed her.  Because no sooner had she begun kicking, as teenage Queen, than she found herself confronted by the consequent collapse of the familial and constitutional arrangements that held her up, reducing her, literally, into a fetal position.

Many teenagers can identify with that, again, perhaps not quite so literally or dramatically, if their homes cannot cope with their kicking. They thereby also find themselves faced with the sudden discovery that their newly-found powers can be terrifyingly self-destructive. 

As a matter of history, it took the avuncular Lord Melbourne, then Prime Minister, to hold all this together for a few years until Victoria found her feet and had cleared the scheming adults of her childhood out of court.   

But as a matter of allegory, rather than simply warn parents against raising children to serve their own purposes--though that message is there--it points to the ultimate purpose of the final stages of parenting: it is the need to be sufficiently mature to be able to withstand a violent kicking from one’s children, without falling over.

It is not a happy message for parents.  

But its necessity is underscored not only by the fate of many teenagers who do not hail from homes strong enough to handle them, by also by the sole exception to my disinterest in Royalty.  

Years ago, by accident, I had an extended personal encounter with a teenager who'd suddenly found himself all-powerful King in a country unable to cope without one.  He'd've made a fine "boy next door".  But instead, in that fragile political context, he was forced to wear the crown, with no "Melbourne" at hand to help.

That--as I can see now, all these years later--like an Anaconda, utterly squeezed the good life out of him. 

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