A king’s duty is to remain above politics and call a halt when the ship of state is about to crash into the rocks. Some 500 miles southeast of the tight little island of Great Britain lies the tiny principality of Liechtenstein. Its citizens have just reaffirmed Prince Adam of Liechtenstein’s almost feudal powers. The reason is simple. Prince Adam, a distant cousin of my wife’s, is incorruptible and has the tiny state’s best interests at heart. Surrounded by Switzerland and Austria, this smallest of nations is thriving as a base for banks and corporations. There is no army and almost no crime. People are rich and the place is thriving. Except for some ambitious politicians, everyone loves the Prince.
King Juan Carlos of Spain chose a reformist democratic government after Franco’s death in 1975 and six years later intervened to quash a military coup attempt. Because of his extreme womanizing, however, his popularity has been sinking badly of late, but his son by his Greek Queen Sophia remains very popular and will make a very capable and popular King one day soon.
The Scandinavian royals, along with the Dutch and Belgian royal houses, are known as the bicycle royals, as they mix freely with their people, keep protocol to a minimum, and hardly ever interfere in those smooth-running democracies. My favorite is the Queen of Denmark, a lovely lady and sister of the Greek Queen.
The monarchy’s mystique lures many people into endowing royals with qualities they do not possess. Three out of Queen Elizabeth’s children have been divorced amid scandal, debts, and adultery. But Elizabeth remains extremely popular, with more than two-thirds of her subjects approving of the monarchy.
Prince Charles is another story. Well-read, almost intellectual and well-informed, he is very spoiled, insists on interfering in matters which do not concern him, and has a staff twice that of his mother. There are many who think he should stand aside for the popular Prince William of Kate Middleton fame. Charles is not amused at such talk, and the day will come when he will be crowned King if he’s not too old by then to be able to walk down Westminster Abbey of his own accord.
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