"But how can you live and have no story to tell?" Fyodor Dostoevsky
Brian is having a tough year. This summer marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Harrods. Overindulgent media coverage brought back memories of the worst of his days. Forced to relive the moment when his reputation was in the toilet, his response was more morose than usual.
The tantrums he throws when he doesn't get his way don't go unnoticed. That’s why he couldn’t handle Diana. She refused to compromise, then outmanoeuvred him in the media. He was lost and looked it.
This summer events also brought into focus the future status of Fag Ash Lil, Brian’s consort. He appears determined that she get a proper title, when and if, he becomes King. Shame that the public has formed a different opinion. It's not as if there aren't enough signs out there of his unpopularity. Plus, he's had loads of time to think things over. After all, his primary job is waiting and hanging about.
Just as the summer nonsense was retreating, along came the Paradise papers. This massive data leak revealed exciting things, including Brian’s shifty investments. In 2007, the minions who look after Brian's money invested $ 113,500 in a company called Sustainable Forest Management. This company operates a cunning wheeze of trading carbon credits. Basically, you pay to pollute. No problem, nothing illegal.
Except, in the meantime, Brian is busy lobbying for a relaxation of the regulations on carbon trading. The practice is frowned upon by many as encouraging pollution. It wouldn't be the first time Brian has stumbled in his lame efforts to be an eco-warrior. Riding around in noisy gas-guzzling helicopters doesn't help the planet or his image.
Anyway, the Kyoto Protocol and EU emission standards rule out trading. That didn't stop Brian. He attacked the regulations in speeches and by bending the ear of ministers.
Brian has a habit of overstepping the mark. His so-called ‘black spider letters’ to ministers vented his views on various issues. Of course, Brian is not seeking any personal gain according to his defenders. Despite that sentiment, he managed to triple his investment since 2007-08. His mouthpieces claim no direct involvement or connection between these investments and lobbying. That is, er, bollocks my Lord. Fortunately, his lobbying efforts failed as carbon credit trading remains regulated.
Most of us are will accept some of Brian's antics if he had the decency to acknowledge his transgressions. Further, insulting our intelligence doesn't endear him to the public. Layered atop this episode is the non-transparent arrangement that surrounds Brian’s estate. The so-called ‘Duchy of Cornwall' is the archaic entity that runs his money-spinning schemes.
In 2013, the estate received heavy criticism for under the table property deals. Whether tax was due on these transactions is debatable. But, we’ll never know because Brian sought and obtained a confidentiality clause. When a Labour lord suggested reforms, pushing a private member's bills, Brian called him a ‘nutter.' This response unmasks his false edifice of amelioration.
In general, its recognised that Brian is out of touch. He's not a popular figure. The Diana saga did his image terrible damage, with any rehabilitation only partial. His PR team got overhauled in 2002 on the alleged orders of Brenda. She grew concerned that Brian’s low ratings reflected on the whole firm. A new group moved in.
Over the years they have had some success in recovering lost ground. Although there is still a mountain to climb. A large part of the British public remains ambivalent towards Fag Ash Lil.
Personally, I favour the Royal family. As I’ve said elsewhere, the institution has the utility of anchoring the nation. That said, there are limits, which Brian is testing.
The Queen is inscrutable. This trait is one of the significant achievements of her reign, which gives the throne a mystical air. By not commenting or speaking, she projects an image that sits well with the public. Yet, Brian’s refusal to shut up exposes him to mocking ridicule. Both Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher had cause to complain. His unwelcome interference in the business of Parliament raised heckles. After one ill-advised intervention, Thatcher told him "I run this country not you, sir.” Undeterred, he continues to offer his pseudo-intellectual arguments.
He lectures people on the need to cut back while residing in a massive estate in extreme luxury. Stories that he travels with a white leather toilet seat are entertaining. He extols the virtues of a low carbon existence, then flies around in a private jet. God forbid, he has to go first-class on a commercial flight; be prepared for the spoilt child routine. In short, he's a hypocrite.
Throughout his life, he's had privileges beyond belief. An admission to Trinity College, Cambridge, despite sub-par academic results. His final grade was a ‘Desmond’ (2:2) - a lower second-class degree. At least he can claim kudos for being the first Royal to secure a degree.
By all accounts, he had a lacklustre navel career. Shuttled between jobs, he landed a simple command. Reports suggest he led a robust, selected crew, so that he didn’t have to overthink or make too many decisions. His sea-sickness distracted him when underway. In port he was fine, not so much at sea. That's something of an issue for a naval commander.
Once Brenda goes there is some doubt that the public will remain as well favoured to the Royals. I envisage increased calls for change, and some restraints on Brian’s conduct.
I suppose the problem is this. He's a bored bloke, and he has no proper job. Surrounded by flunkies, who indulge his feckless ideas, Brian get dilutions. He assumes that he can contribute something useful. Then reality intervenes.
Brian's speeches can be most illustrative. In 2002 he asserted he was on the planet “ to heal the dismembered landscape and the poisoned soul?” He went on "so the temple of our humanity can be lit by a sacred flame.” O, dear!
I wonder if he knows the Italian press call him "II Tampaccino.” The British are more temperate and delicate. One conservative columnist recently wrote “He possesses a strong sense of duty. Might not it be best expressed by renouncing the throne in advance?”. Here, here.
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.