The Duchess of Kent seldom makes public statements. Over the past decades she has been about as loquacious as your average Trappist nun.
Yet HRH is neither a Trappist nun nor any other kind. This she proved by declaring her love of rap, especially Eminem and Ice Cube.
“I’ll listen to anything,” she said. “I just love music… If it makes my feet tap then I’m happy.”
This is a startling admission for an 89-year-old aristocrat, who was musically trained as a girl, dreamed of performing at Carnegie Hall and only narrowly missed out on a place at the Royal Academy of Music.
That sort of background should have taught her that real music doesn’t make one’s feet tap. At the risk of sounding pompous, music’s function is to lift the soul and remind it of its origin. Its receptors are head and heart, not the organs located lower in the body.
That’s not to say that feet-tapping music has no place in life. But it belongs in a dance hall, not Carnegie Hall. Listening to such music – especially rap – on the wireless, which HRH apparently does all the time, instantly marks the listener as a cultural savage.
“I’ll listen to anything” is a popular statement, next to “I like both classical and pop.” No doubt that’s true: some classical tunes are quite catchy and almost as likable as pop. Alas, no one capable of listening to pop can appreciate real music – no matter how much he likes it.
The difference between liking and appreciating may be illustrated by wine. Most people would like a great wine, say Château Pétrus. But it would take an extremely refined, cultured and experienced palate to appreciate that wine at its own level, giving it its due. In the absence of such faculties, a bottle of Chianti would do just as well, if not better.
Yet the effort made by the budding oenophile is nothing compared to the dedication, application, learning and innate taste involved in appreciating a great piece of music.
Such appreciation demands a lifelong effort in attuning one’s sensibilities to the highest achievements of our culture. I maintain that no one who has made the requisite effort would be able to listen to rap – or any kind of pop – for five seconds. That kind of diabolical noise would give him an acute physical pain.
I wonder if HRH actually listens to the lyrics of the music that makes her feet tap. I hope not, for otherwise one would have to think that Her Majesty’s cousin is married to a woman who is either woefully barbarian or completely gaga.
Even as we speak, I close my eyes and imagine HRH rocking to the sound of Eminem, her feet in high gear:
Bitch, I’m a player, I’m too motherfuckin’ stingy for Cher
Won’t even lend you an ear, ain’t even pretendin’ to care
But I tell a bitch I’ll marry her, if she’ll bury her
Face on my genital area, the original Richard Ramirez
‘Cause my lyrics never sit well, so they wanna give me the chair
Push another button, and in comes her other favourite, Ice Cube:
Left my nigga’s house paid
Picked up a girl been tryin’ to fuck since the 12th grade
It’s ironic, I had the brew, she had the chronic
The Lakers beat the Supersonics
I felt on the big fat fanny
Pulled out the jammy and killed the punanny
And my dick runs deep, so deep
So deep put her ass to sleep
Woke her up around one
She didn’t hesitate to call Ice Cube the top gun
Drove her to the pad and I’m coastin’
Took another sip of the potion hit the three-wheel motion
In the charitable spirit for which our royals are justly famous, the Duchess spreads her cultural attainments wide. For the past 13 years, she has been teaching music at a Hull comprehensive.
I don’t mean to sound snobbish, but Hull strikes me as a good place for evangelising Eminem and Ice Cube. Doing so with local children must be dead easy. Teaching them to appreciate, say, St Matthew’s Passion is a harder task, and one clearly beyond someone who listens to Eminem on the wireless.
Does ‘Mrs Kent’, as the modest duchess is known at the school, try to teach any other music or just rap? I also wonder why abusing children sexually is against the law, but violating them aesthetically, scarring their brittle sensibilities for life, isn’t.
I think HRH should be placed on the aesthetic offenders’ register and barred from teaching music or anything else. Due process would demand a prior hearing, which I suggest should be accompanied by the songs cited above. That’s prima facie evidence if I ever saw it.