Prince William: Let it all hang out

One should wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve, provided the tailor is ‘by appointment’

The word ‘modern’ is seldom used in this space as a term of praise. So it pains me to have to apply it to our future king. But alas that’s what Prince William is, an utterly modern man.

He professes love for Aston Villa, and for the sake of our monarchy I hope he only professes it.

In his younger days, he used to be regularly photographed drunk in the wee hours, rolling out of the kind of nightclubs where a normal person wouldn’t be able to stay a minute.

He routinely uses demotic language, which I’ve lampooned a couple of times:

And he blames the war generation’s stiff upper lip for what he sees as the nation’s mental health crisis.

Now, and I mean this with every bit of respect for the institution HRH represents, he’s a man of rather modest intellect. That by itself is no disqualifying trait for becoming a successful king, provided that deficit is offset by nobility, honour, a sense of duty – and the very quality of dignified restraint that HRH wishes to expunge.

I’m afraid Prince William doesn’t display such qualities as often as he shows a certain lack of mental acuity. To wit:

“Completely by accident they [his grandparents’ generation] passed that [emotional restraint] on to the next generation [that of his parents]… So the whole generation inherited that this is how we deal with problems – we don’t talk about them. Now there’s a generation realising this is not normal and we should talk about them.”

One doesn’t know where to begin. However, obeying the royal command, I’m prepared to talk about my problems – specifically the one I have with drivel like that.

To me, emotional restraint, refusal to shove one’s feelings under others’ noses, has to be the most endearing national trait of the English. Underpinning it are the qualities of delicacy, tact and respect that lie at the foundation of civility.

Sparing one’s interlocutor the burden of one’s problems comes from the understanding that, since he has many problems of his own, one should ease his burden, not add to it.

A problem shared is a problem doubled – this version of the proverb is closer to the truth than the original. “Pull yourself together and get on with it” ought to be inscribed on the royal coat of arms, next to Dieu et mon droit.

Prince William’s statement is ignorant on more levels than those possessed by the kind of buildings his father rightly despises.

Character traits aren’t passed on from generation to generation “completely by accident”. Has HRH heard about such things as heredity, gene pool, national character, culture and history?

Apparently not. But he has clearly heard the echoes of Freudian psychobabble reverberating through the more fashionable social circles and unfortunately bouncing on to the less fashionable.

Freud’s fraudulent theories have been thoroughly discredited, and in fact he never achieved a single clinical success in his lifetime, other than those falsified either by him or by his worshippers.

That, however, didn’t prevent Freud from spawning whole generations of therapeutic leeches sucking money out of the gullible. Being in therapy has become de rigueur for the kind of chaps who accessorise Armani suits with scarves rather than ties, or the sort of women who wear sunglasses on top of their heads even at night.

They set the trends, one of which is generational anomie: belief that the dial is reset in every new generation, and no ideas, principles or traits developed by previous generations are worthy of respect.

Another trend is an artificially cultivated emotional incontinence. Let it all hang out, seems to be today’s motto, like Prince William’s shirt used to hang out of his trousers at the end of those nightclub sessions.

Many English people go with the Zeitgeist and against their nature to wear their hearts on their sleeves – forgetting that before long that vital organ will be caked in grime.

For the English have to force themselves to do things that are innate to, say, Italians. A loud, wildly gesticulating Italian doesn’t irritate (not much, at any rate) because one realises he’s naturally acting in character. An Englishman doing the same things, or forcing himself to have loud, garrulous fun, looks ludicrous.

Also, if “there is now a generation realising [stiff upper lip] is not normal”, how is it that we’re plagued by a mental health crisis that upsets Prince William so?

First, I’d like to see the evidence testifying that a crisis exists. I suspect that such data, if they exist, are hugely inflated by classifying as mental illnesses things that Prince William’s grandparents would describe as sadness, worry or simply a rotten mood.

But if it’s indeed true that the emotionally incontinent generation is madder than the previous ones, this rather compromises the underlying supposition, doesn’t it?

And surely one could think of much more valid reasons for this pandemic than the inherited reluctance to pester all and sundry with one’s little problems?

The widespread use of drugs is one. I suspect Prince William has witnessed this activity more often than his paternal grandmother, God bless her. Yet he hasn’t discerned a link between that and madness.

However, any competent psychiatrist, as opposed to a Freudian quack, knows that cannabis, to say nothing of hard drugs, can produce mental disorders – even (especially?) among people who don’t bottle up their feelings.

And then there’s the major reason: the rapid depletion of mental, spiritual and moral resources, a problem that seems to be accelerating with each subsequent generation.

Our godless, ill-educated, deracinated young are left with little to look up to, so they’re encouraged to delve into their own psyche, in the hope of finding peace.

Yet all those homespun solipsists find there is a kaleidoscope of puny thoughts and base feelings – the sort of things that are indeed better off staying bottled up inside.

On balance, one wishes Prince William had inherited more from his paternal grandparents than from his mother. Alas, that’s not how heredity has worked out – and it’s no accident.

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