What Is Power?

Every rose has its thorn/ Every night has its morn/
Every cowboy sings a sad, sad song/ Every rose has its thorn.
-- Poison

History surrounded by history.

This boy is not normal. Not even close.

Quit pretending he is.

He has grown up in an environment most of us cannot begin to comprehend. I'll be blunt about it. The object of a war between the ruling Windsor dynasty and the blonde Spencer usurper. Nobody seems to want to face this beyond a few fashionable references to "the future of royalty." "Be king." "Don't be king." "Be king." "Don't be king." Eat venison. Eat at McDonald's. Go play video games. Go hunting. Go flirt with the girls. Go hide behind the castle walls.

Before we go further, I shall answer some questions. What the hell entitles me to think I may know something about this boy? Why do I think I should speak? Who the fuck am I?

A graduate of the University of Chicago, that's the fuck who. I paid them a good deal of money to imbue my small head with the idea that I could actually think. It's a place where it's cool to be able to discuss ancient Greek history -- in the original. A place where you can run into Nobel Prize winners in the damn coffee shop.

I have this unhealthy tendency to act as if I am intelligent and expect other people to do the same. Don't like it? I think by now you know where the fluffball pages are. Get thee hence.

Now can we get back to the discussion? Not of the boy's damn eye color but of his effect on the media? Thank you. At long last. Whew. All right. One more comment about how "formal and stiff" this boy sounds when he answers the goddamn phone (not that I disdain all people who refer to the standard stuff. Sometimes it's the only way you can build up a good database. As long as you recognize that the standard media crap is not the full story....) That was by Earl Spencer. That was in print in 1995. I promise. 1995. What do we know about him today? How hard he flipped his butt in Canada?

We can do better than that. The photographs. Just go stare at the photographs. Princes in Pictures has plenty. Claudia has more. What do you see? Just stare at those things.

I will tell you what I see. A very shy individual who is obviously capable of turning it on momma-style in public and enjoying every minute. A young man (and I use that word quite specifically) for whom the media is a toy, I would guess, ranking somewhere between girls and video games. A little blond-headed boy who has more power in his scrawny hands than the chief executive officer of any two, not one but two, thank you, major car corporations. And he knows it. Has to. We have no reports of mental retardation. Quite the opposite. This is supposed to be (and looks like) a very intelligent boy.

Who can send thousands of girls screaming with one single buttflip. Who racks up more hit count on most royal pages (including mine) than everyone else combined. Who can outdraw good old Granny, the veritable symbol of a nation.

Whose nation is he the symbol of?

We need to think seriously about this. Why does he affect us this way? Why do we feel the need to talk about him? Why does the social phenomenon that this boy represents seem to damned important that it has driven an otherwise sane woman (me) to distraction trying to analyze it for several years now?

What, in short, is going on with this kid?

I have seen plenty of pictures in his younger years where he just plain invited the camera. Crooked a finger at it and said, "Come here." In and amongst those are "cute kid" shots, playing second banana to Mommy's stardom. Back off and let Mommy have the spotlight. That's a good boy.

Ha ha. Not for long, hon. Along about spring 1995 there starts appearing a remarkable series of photographs. I call them the "William effect" photographs. I'll start with the "rugby shoot" photos. In a stadium. Kicking around a ball. Wearing a plaid shirt. And looking like nothing so much as, "Hi, I'm Diana's boy and I've got my thumb up my ass." Next batch. April 1995. Out with friends. Walking along the street carrying some sort of stuffed animal. Buying flowers for Mommy.

Then. The prize. July, was it? What could only be days after his 13th birthday. What'd they do, plop that damned crown on his head at the stroke of midnight? Whop him upside the shoulder with Arthur's silver sword? Go for it. Something happened. (I've taught that age group. I know they get full of beans. I've factored that in.)

Ludgrove School. We all know the picture. A thousand Diana tributes. Famous before that, in its own boppy way. She's sitting on a bench. He's perched on the arm. Look at the arms. Look at the legs. Look at the sheer, raw power in the stance. "Yeah, Mom. Right." Look at those rugby photographs again. Is this the same kid? Look at them.

Next in line that I can recall (there's loads) is the Colorado rafting shot. Center spread in every royal-oriented mag in the world. They're going down the river. Look at his face. Not much, but it's there. The first, I believe, of the "water photographs." His facial expression changes when he's around water. Those cheekbones fly up to his eyeballs. His face thins. He looks like he's ready to go conquer something. This happens again and again. (Rowing. Scuba diving. Go look. That's what I see, anyway.)

And the prize. (They're all prizes at this point.) V-J Day. A hundred and one good photographs. The one that really sings is the also the most-used. I call it "Off With Their Heads." Sitting in that chair like it's a throne. Impatiently looking at his watch. Look at the fingers on the program. Look at the lower lip. Look at those wonderful tucked-up teenage feet. Is he a monarch or a little kid? Wasn't it about this time the girls started going ballistic?

First day at Eton. "Spitball Alert." Green leafy background. Formal portrait. Much previously discussed. The first of what I call the "Stamp Practice" photos. (See also that wonderful head shot from Great-Granny's birthday, 1997.) Possibly soon thereafter. "Hi. Here I Am." Rocketed around the world. Aw, ain't he cute in his penguin suit? Sure is. Can't he walk perfectly in umpteenth-century clothing? I really pity the two little boys caught behind him in the photograph. They will have to live with that shot forever. Merely normal. Poor things.

The absolute capper. For that year. Christmas. Tall and elegant in that fancy coat. Some little girl giving him a present. He accepts it as grandly and graciously as Granny ever could. "I Am the Embodiment Of the Land." Handles it perfectly.

Ladies and gents, I think we can quit worrying about this kid and just watch the hell out of what's going on here. I've been fascinated since I laid eyes on that "stuffed animal" photograph. Just watching. Reading. Learning. More watching.

This boy ain't going away. These were 1995 photographs. It's now 1998. The "effect" only intensifies. We don't even notice it anymore. All we see is "cute."

Well, he was cute before. He was long-legged and high-cheekboned before.

He was Mommy's son before. He really was. Remember the wedding? Huh?

And this started way before Mommy went bye-bye. It just went into high scream mode.

There are other pictures that fit into this series. I've just picked the most interesting ones.

What do you think?

Go. Look. See for yourself. I'm not the only one with a brain out here.

Normal. Yeah. Right. Uh huh.

Other Essays

So Why Are You So Hot For This Boy?
Why Do We Need William?
Spotting William Fakes.
What Shall We Do with William?
William and Publicity.
Rumors. Rumors. Rumors.
Define Cuteness.
Family. Sweet Family.
The Funeral.
Strange Places to Visit
History Resources.
What Is William Going to Have to Do?
You Wanna Talk About William's Eye Color?
"William and _________, Sitting In a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"
About Time to Do A Spice Girls Essay
And One Last Whup-Up on William.

And fiction.


Damn. We've lost Claudia.

The Princes in Pictures.

The Duchess of Nova Scotia.

Machiavelli Online Resources.

Kitty's always got good ideas. Kitty's constantly finding new toys.

Come play with kitty. See what kitty has this time!

Kitty's a stray. So's bratty little Limey child (but we already knew that, right?).

Royal Page


I'm taking this hit count as a compliment.

"So tell me what you want, what you really, really want!"
-- Spice Girls/Stannard/Rowe, "Wannabe"