Friday, March 10, 2006

Camilla The Good

In the best tradition of women in the British monarchy, Camilla is a class act.

You may dispute that but it's true.

Putting aside all that has happened in the past relating to Diana, Camilla is an asset to the monarchy, just as much as the Queen and the Queen Mother.


Because she knows how to keep her mouth shut.

Unlike Diana, Camilla has maintained a respectful silence. In 30 years she's had more than enough provocation to defend herself, yet she never has. What little we do know of her is from Diana's point of view. We don't know the other side of the story, and maybe we never will.

You may argue, but the evidence suggests that royal class is equated with silence, with going about duty without complaint, earning their keep. The Duchess of Gloucester, the Duchess of Kent, Princess Alexandra, we can't help but see dedication there. No comment can be made when no information is given. We can speculate all we like. Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and even Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, all class acts, who did not complain about their lot. Who understood duty. Of course we looked at royals with far more deference then, there wasn't the same amout of media interest, no papparazzi to invade their privacy. If they had lived in today's day and age, would there be the same respect?

Princess Michael, although stylish and elegant, is not regarded as a class act. Why? because she talks to the media, writes books and in general sells her wares. It also doesn't help that she makes honest and occassionally unkind remarks about other royals. We don't seem to like royals who have opinions, just look at Prince Charles and his diaries. However, you just can't help but get the feeling that Princess Michael, unrepentant, enjoys all of the attention.

The Queen is respected, mainly because she personifies duty, never having put a foot wrong in all of the years on the throne. Sure, she didn't respond to Diana's death the way we would have liked her to, but she was only doing what she had been trained to do. In 80 years, how much do we really know about the Queen? How much should we know? The Queen does not owe us a public confession. Neither does Camilla.

It's interesting to note that the Queen, her father, grandfather, grandmother and so on, never gave an interview. The Queen Mother was an exception. In 1923, just after her engagement, she gave a brief interview to a newspaper. King George V, her future father-in-law, disapproved and she never made the mistake again. Charles and Diana, Andrew and Sarah, and Edward and Sophie, may have given engagement and pre-wedding interviews, but not Charles and Camilla. Maybe Charles was trying to avoid saying something that would haunt him later. Smart move on Charles' part.

Nowadays we expect our public figures to give us sound bites. After all, we can't live on official photos alone. And slow on the uptake, the royal family is becoming increasingly media savvy. But as Camilla seems to have observed, sometimes it's sensible to keep things to oneself. She may have learnt, to quote part of an old proverb, 'Speech is silver and silence is golden'.

© Marilyn Braun 2006


Anonymous said...

I have the hardest time with princess Diana, because I think she exemplified everything women have spent generations trying to overcome. She exploited her appearance and she solidified the prejudice that women are "emotional" rather than intellectual. It is such a pleasure to see Camilla, a quite and consistent woman in the spotlight.

If anyone has any references on anti-Diana blogs, I'd greatly appreciate it just for the opportunity to view other intelligent women's take on a woman who virtually set us back 200 years.

Anonymous said...

Camilla has kept her mouth shut in public--thus far--but, as recently revealed by a journalist, she spent the years before and after the Wales separation keeping certain members of the press well briefed on the marital woes she was helping to cause. Princess Diana did the same but at least she had the courage to stand up for herself publicly as well. Silence is golden yes, but it can be cowardly as well.

To anonymous:
I am a feminist as well and I must disagree with you. In fact I find it anti-feminist that you should judge Princess Diana simply by her clothing and lack of A-levels rather than by her many humanitarian actions.
Diana dressed well when on show but it was the media--and the public--who decided to put the main focus on her clothing and personal life.
As for emotions; have you none? I certainly do and they have yet to “set me back 200 years”. If you want women to go back 200 years than continue to encourage us to keep our mouths shut and not stand up for ourselves. As much as I admire the Queen I cannot see her as a feminist role model . . . I doubt if she would see herself as one either.

Marilyn Braun said...

Personally I'm a bit sceptical of any role Camilla might have played in keeping the media briefed. Sure spin doctors were no doubt employed to make Camilla more palitable to the public, but as for Camilla herself, I somehow doubt it, especially after the separation - the marital woes were very well documented thanks to Diana, there was no need for Camilla to take part. Charles also had plenty of other friends to brief the media, Nicholas Soames is one rather vocal and obnoxious example of that.

Yes, Diana had the courage and guts to stand up for herself, however she should have left it at the Andrew Morton book - she got the point across. Instead she waged a media war, where because she was beautiful, she couldn't lose. After the Morton book, did Charles not have the right to defend himself? Of course not! Diana had to do the Panorama interview and cut down the father of her children and the institution which Prince William will oneday be head of. Diana had a lot of power in the media and sometimes she used it with her appearance or vocally, very unwisely.