"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
My regular readers will be aware that I am not enamoured with Brian. Next week, the man on the world's longest apprenticeship turns 70. This birthday is the trigger for an outpouring of publicity to support his rise to the throne. His PR machine is going into overdrive, with gushing pieces in such places as Hello and Now magazines. Even the republican Guardian is getting involved.
In the process, we get action man Brian, then academic Brian and family man Brian. Photographs of his days in the Royal Navy and the RAF abound. Next, he’s wearing gowns and standing among a collection of books - some of which he may have coloured in. Finally, we get Brian the father, grandfather and kindly uncle. He’s even riding the coattails of his son’s family to burnish his image.
Of course, we don’t get Brian the philander nor Brian the slightly odd bloke who has wacky ideas. Nor are we treated to hypocrite Brian; the man who lectures us about the environment while residing in many homes and jetting about in planes. Lastly, completely missed out is the great thinker Brian. Well, that’s because he’s not.
But, he's a confident sort. “The young have ideas above their station” he mused “because they are taught they can all be pop stars or High Court Judges or TV presenters, even heads of state, without putting in the necessary work”. Wow. You need to savour that, roll it around in your head and contemplate the full meaning.
Remember it comes from a man handed his title on a plate - who will be head of state because he came down a specific vagina. That’s his only qualification for the job. Nothing else matters. Reflecting on the Hong Kong handover ceremony, he observed the Chinese leadership looked like waxworks. Has he ever taken the time to peer around at his own family? The self-awareness gene is missing in the man.
His consort, Fag Ash Lil has grown on me. You sense that she’s more grounded which brings us to the elephant in the room. In all the publicity, there is no mention of Princess Diana of Harrods. Airbrushed from history Soviet style.
The most striking and problematic aspect of this choreographed effort is its sheer falsehood. The PR gurus have gone to considerable effort to spin a sanitised version of Brian’s history. It's fortunate a majority of the public have not forgotten the massive blots on his record.
His poor choice in brides and potty ideas are not my most significant concern. Instead, it's the evidence pointing to Brian being a somewhat different monarch from his Mum. She played the part to perfection — the mystery and aloofness delivered in equal measure. It’s argued she only put a foot wrong once. That was over the whole Diana saga and remaining in Scotland when the nation wanted her in London. Indeed, that’s the conventional narrative. The truth of it we may never know.
Unfortunately, all the evidence points to Brian being an ‘activist’ King. And that could bring the whole show crashing down around his rather large ears. As Walter Bagehot, the essayist pointed out some years ago.
"If the sovereign be able to play the part of that thoroughly intelligent but perfectly disinterested spectator who is so prominent in the works of certain moralists, he may be able to choose better for his subjects than they would choose for themselves."
As Bagehot asserted “The sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights — the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn. And a king of great sense and sagacity would want no others. He would find that his having no others would enable him to use these with singular effect.’
Therein lies the rub. Brian has already proven himself a player and no disinterested spectator. His attempts to interfere in politics are legendary. His memorandum to ministers reveals he sought to influence policy in support of his pet causes. Margaret Thatcher complained to him and the palace about his interference. “I run this country, not you, sir,” Thatcher is alleged to have told him.
He has repeatedly made known that he despises science. This view is odd for a man who relies on so many of its innovations to do his work. He has in the past described the scientific worldview as an insult to ‘sacred traditions.’ Is that why he supported a mosque in North London that acted as an incubator to Islamic terrorists.
Richard Reid the shoe bomber, Abu Hamza al-Masri and others used this facility. Brian acted as patron. He’s never accounted for that except to say he wants to be the defender of all faiths. Does that include those faiths that bring terror to British streets?
It appears this arrogant and absurd man does not fool the savvy British public. The data is damning. His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, K.G., K.T., G.C.B., O.M., A.K., Q.S.O., P.C., A.D.C., Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, is an unpopular man.
A 2018 YouGov poll places Brian as the seventh most popular royal. He sits behind the Duchess of Sussex, who joined the royal family a matter of months ago. His numbers are low.
Then you have polls showing that some 54 per cent of Britons would prefer Prince William as King over Brian. It’s not pleasant reading for the man.
Plus, don’t forget that the British throne extends to 16 countries. Some of these states may consider abolishing the monarchy after the Queen’s death. Polls suggest several will go that route.
His assertions that he won’t be a meddling King ring hollow. The man appears incapable of constraining himself. The only saving grace in all this is that Brian’s reign is unlikely to be as long as his mothers. Thus, time may limit the damage he does. In the meantime, he’d do well to take the sage advice of a Yorkshire farmer pontificating on the subject. “Do your duty lad and shut your gob!”
I’ll leave the final words to Bagehot "The benefits of a good monarch are almost invaluable, but the evils of a bad monarch are almost irreparable."
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.