More of which later…
“A bill sponsored by (North Dakota) state Rep. Keith Kempenich … would protect drivers from legal consequences if they inadvertently hit, injure or kill pedestrians who are obstructing traffic. The legislation is a direct response to the massive protests around the Standing Rock Indian Reservation … “If you stay off the roadway, this would never be an issue,” Kempenich said.” -The Daily Kos, 17 Jan. 2017.
“All liberals really have in the current climate of inequality is the argument that the fascist bully boys who adopt the role of militant spearhead of the social malcontent among poorer whites are attacking the wrong targets.”
Nous sommes Charlots
Events in Charlottesville, Va over the weekend have left a nasty taste in the media and a rumbling but short-lived controversy in American politics which, like the North Korea thing, has provided President Trump with yet another golden opportunity to divert attention from investigations into his and his family’s highly rackety financial structure and dealings.
There is something deeper, most commentators feel, that he doesn’t want to come out; something for which he is preparing to exercise the Presidential pardon on his own account if Mueller or the FBI gets too close. It is something potentially so serious that he has twice in the past week been prepared to say, or not say, dumb or reckless things that add to the growing tally of reasons to impeach him. He’s prepared to risk his position, to bet the presidency on it.
So you cannot take anything he says or does not say currently at face value.
His stubborn refusal to condemn the white supremacist yobboes, AR-15 toting rednecks, millennarian bible-bashers and Antisemitic, Islamophobic dumbfucks parading their Nazi regalia on the streets of ‘America’s Happiest Town’ has courted criticism from leading Republicans who still cannot bring themselves to dethrone him despite the glaring obviousness of the need to do so, and fast.
The calculus is that if they don’t, his policy failures and embarrassing gaffes will result in a big defeat at the polls next year; but if they do, it will enrage the Republican base and result in a big defeat at the polls. Not to mention what the Kochs will do to their funding if Trump’s ‘make the rich richer’ Laffer-curve legislative programme continues to fail to pass. It could mean a big defeat.
They are paralysed, rabbits in the headlights. But we should not assume that Trump is merely defending ‘his base’ – the dumbfucks who would follow him through the gates of hell just to put one over on the Washington elite.
As we know, Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old civil rights campaigner, was killed and 19 injured when a suspect identified from earlier photos as a member of a neo-Nazi group drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist demonstrators trying to corral a rally of ‘white supremacists’ protesting the removal from a local park of a prominent Confederate statue of General Robert E Lee.
It’s part of a drive across the southland to erase the memory of the Confederacy, that slave-owning group of states that went to war with the North in 1861 and lost, by removing the symbols of its vainglory: heroic statues and the flag.
Frankly, while not approving slavery, The Pumpkin has its reservations about this revisionist campaign. Its equivalent in the UK might be to order the removal of all village First World War memorials on the grounds that they perpetuate the evils of the patriarchal ‘squirearchy’ system that led to the trenches; even if by doing so you dishonor those who died in them.
And in fact, a statue to an unknown Confederate soldier was ripped off its plinth, an act of ritual desecration which The Pumpkin contends brings no credit to the leftist Antifa demonstrators. Was it that boy’s fault? Was he a racist, for being hauled off his parents’ farm and drafted into fighting for a lost cause? The attitude of the anti-racists can be just as thoughtless and bigoted as that of the alt-right.
Like all decent people, The Pumpkin is repelled on a cultural level by the narcissistic militaristic memes of the ‘white right’. We are supposed to be, that’s the point. Cenk Uygur’s online discussion forum The Young Turks at the weekend brilliantly dissected the ‘manifesto’ of one self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who (one has to discount the theory that he may be one of those alternative comedians who successfully infiltrates his target group by being more extreme than they are, highlighting their absurdities) blogged that dressing in a proper, well-fitted Nazi uniform is more likely to get you a girl ‘groupie’ than baggy fatigues and a baseball cap.
In the shadows behind the useful idiots, alternative fashionistas and girlfriend-less footsoldiers, however, there are nastier elements at work. There always are. But I have to say that they are only aided and abetted in their quest to establish a white Christians-only nation – a new Confederacy – by the kneejerk reactions of the leftwing and centre-left liberal media and politicians, demanding (for instance) that the president be more specific in his condemnations.
It’s not enough merely to condemn violence, you have to change the underlying societal problems, the inequality. It would be, say, the position of an organization dedicated entirely self-protectively to ‘balance’, like BBC News, to cling tenaciously to the principle that it takes two rights to make a wrong.
Despite his daughter Ivanka’s outright condemnation of the fascist elements involved in the rioting, Trump has vaguely disparaged the violence ‘on all sides’, refusing to blame any one specific group.
Given that legitimate protest in however rotten a cause is protected by the First Amendment, and given the need to encourage unity in the face of violent dissention that he himself has so often licensed, inclusive neutrality is not actually an unreasonable position, other than when seen through the lens of liberal outrage. We do not know who started the violence, clearly tempers were high on both sides. The mere fact of a protest march offering a provocation to the left does not automatically make the right-wingers guilty.
The main whinge of the so-called ‘alt-right’ – that feeble attempt to provide an intellectual mask for a wide assortment of disaffected and divisive nationalist elements – is that they are the class who suffer more from social discrimination and disadvantage than blacks and other ethnic and religious minorities.
They argue that they have benefited less from social safety nets and quotas, positive discrimination and ‘diversity’ policies; and that they are being deliberately disadvantaged by a conspiracy of multiculturalist tax-eaters.
I’m not convinced this is as absurd as it sounds, when we know in our own country from the reckless Brexit protest vote that people feel they are hurting and are thus more easily manipulated by the wealthy disruptors for whom social chaos and the breakdown of institutions represent opportunities to further enrich themselves. It’s how millions of ordinary Germans fell into the way of Nazism and the licence it offered to persecute and murder sections of society they blamed for their condition; and take whatever little they had for themselves.
Courting the predictable outrage of the media, the far-right happily plays the role of martyr, bringing on themselves publicly the very discrimination they are claiming has left them on the scrapheap while alien elements in ‘their’ country prosper at their expense. All liberals really have in the current climate of inequality is the argument that the fascist bully boys who adopt the role of militant spearhead of the genuine social malcontent among poorer whites are attacking the wrong targets.
The leftwing and centre-left liberal media and politicians – all ‘decent people’ – are playing into their hands. Just as gun sales always soar in the wake of well-publicised massacres, so the stock-in-trade of the far-right, social division and hatred of the Other, portrayed as victim of the liberal elite, is bound to swell their ranks.
A well-fitted uniform or a set of imposing military surplus-store fatigues and an AR-15 assault rifle can get you a ‘girl groupie’ quicker than any rational discussion of the fundamental economic problem – especially when that discussion, your protest, is closed down by the very people, the media and institutions they are protesting at:
Jason Kessler, the organiser of Saturday’s far-right rally in Charlottesville, was chased away by protesters in the city on Sunday afternoon after he tried to give a press conference. As soon as Kessler (who had already condemned the violence and regretted the death of Heyer) emerged in the forecourt of Charlottesville’s city hall, a crowd of more than 300 who had gathered along with the waiting media began shouting “murderer”, “terrorist” and “nazi”. (The Guardian, 14 Aug.)
It might be noted too that the left-leaning Guardian, while publishing on its website some half-dozen stories, an editorial and other comment features on Charlottesville, has not opened a single thread for discussion of the issue by its readers.
Perhaps they don’t trust us.
‘PhiPhiGuru’ writes that the Charlottesville murder is a hoax:
“The car crash, because the site where that happened was cut off from the main public, nobody was allowed near that site — except, of course, the ”hire-a-crowd” paid actors. If you look at the footage from an eagle’s view, you’ll see that no one actually gets run over, they just roll along. The unnecessary shaky footage on the ground to make it look more action-packed is cringeworthy, not to mention the inconsistencies by the witnesses or how this story is presented in the MSM. Or even the false story of history that is reurgitated over and over with Robert E Lee and Abraham Lincoln and the whole civil war.”
There is more, I’m afraid.
Hotter than July
Arctic News website reports, temperature in northern Canada (north of the Arctic circle) recorded on 13 August at 34.5C, 94F; CO2 over British Columbia on 9 August at 625 ppm (pre-industrial background 285). Smoke from Siberian fires drifting over the Arctic. Thickest sea ice continuing to break up as windspeeds and wave heights increase. Paul Beckwith observes it to be raining in both polar regions with few areas below freezing – it’s supposedly wintertime in Antarctica.
Wildfire still burning in Greenland.
The death toll in the Sierra Leone mountainslip, following the heaviest rain in decades, could exceed a thousand. 270 bodies have been recovered so far but many more are missing.
One for The Kush
“…after a certain point complication ceases to be my middle name.”
A story that surfaced quite bigly in March this year has shared the fate of many that seem to have vanished with nary a trace as the welter of bad news stories surrounding the Trumps has spurted out of the White House on a daily basis, like liquid shit from a 410m World Championship hurdler with norovirus.
Which is, the one about Jared Kushner and his long-held business association with the Israel-based Steinmetz brothers, the richer of whom, Beny, has been under investigation by federal authorities in the USA and Switzerland for paying huge bribes to secure iron-ore mining rights in the African nation of Guinea.
The Pumpkin was reminded of it just now while browsing on the back-button, and realized that not a lot has happened since. The Gulf Times is only one of a number of perfectly respectable publications that reported the story. To quote from them:
“Raz Steinmetz, whose family built its fortune as diamond traders, has been partnering with Kushner Cos. since at least 2012, and they now co-own about 15 buildings in downtown Manhattan worth more than $150 million. Since then, the Kushner and Steinmetz families have also become co-investors in the Trump Bay Street tower in Jersey City, which licensed the Trump brand from the president’s business organisation.”
Kushner, as we recall, has been given more jobs in the administration even than the former British Chancellor George Osborne has taken up since his resignation following the lost Brexit vote in June last year – and people laughed at him. Among them, is the minor responsibility for bringing about peace in the Middle East.
Who better? He has, after all, these complicated business relationships with Israeli corporate investors. Even more complicated, is the spat between the Steinmetzes and multi-billionaire speculator George Soros – a Hungarian-born Jew who has fallen out with many Israeli politicians and businessmen over his support for Palestinian rights, with the Hungarian government over his antipathy towards the rightwing Christian authoritarianism of Prime Minister Orban – and with the Trump presidency. He’s a Democrat.
Despite that, Soros is also an investor in Kushner properties, being named as a guarantor of $250 million-worth of Jared’s outstanding $1 billion loans from the money-laundering Deutsche Bank and many others.
Jared has also boasted in the past of his almost familial relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Israeli police confirm, they have been investigating allegations of bribery against him for months, although the accusations so far appear to involve only accepting gifts in exchange for helping an Israeli businessman to get US citizenship – another activity of which Kushner Co stands accused – and of attempting to bribe a newspaper proprietor to say nice things about him. Small potatoes, hotly denied.
I have no idea what any of this portends, as after a certain point complication ceases to be my middle name. However, were the billionaire diamond dealer Beny Steinmetz to be found guilty of bribery, in view of the relationship between them Kushner might very well be indicted as an accessory to that fact. It may possibly be why Kushner Co. no longer lists a Steinmetz investment vehicle, the ironically named Gaia Co*, as one of its partners, although it is. Gaia is owned by Raz Steinmetz, Beny’s brother.
Whether in view of his multitasking portfolio in the White House Jared has in fact recused himself from his many conflicting business interests and handed control to his brother, no-one seems quite sure. The Independent (28 April) commented:
“Although Kushner resigned in January from his chief executive role at Kushner Companies, he remains the beneficiary of trusts that own the sprawling real estate business. The firm has taken part in roughly $7bn in acquisitions during the last decade, many of them backed by foreign partners whose identities he will not reveal.”
It seems that secrecy is written through the Kushners’ rotten empire as if through a sticky stick of Coney Island rock; while his actions appear to be those of a man desperate to deleverage his crushing debt.
From Gulf Times again:
“Asked about it, a spokesman for Kushner Cos said, “Kushner Companies has a long-standing relationship with Raz Steinmetz and Gaia, who have been terrific partners.”
“Gaia Investment lists Shlomo Meichor and Assi Arev as principals. Meichor previously served as chief financial officer of Ampal-American Israel Corp, a New York-traded investment firm that Raz Steinmetz and his father Daniel bought a controlling interest in from Bank Hapoalim in 1996. Bank Hapoalim is among Kushner’s lenders.”**
A number of arrests were made in the Steinmetz case. In July 2015 an associate of Steinmetz, Frederic Cilins was jailed for two years in America for attempting to obstruct the investigation into the bribery case, after an FBI wiretap recorded a conversation with the late Guinean president Sekou Touré’s widow. The Guardian reported: “According to the recordings, Cilins said that he was working on behalf of Steinmetz when he attempted to arrange to destroy evidence of the alleged bribes.”
More arrests followed last December, notably Beny himself, his mine company boss Avidor and a former Guinean minister of mines, all of whom were bailed pending further investigations – since when, apparently, a veil has descended. A spokesmouth for the mining company dismissed the case, saying: “The allegations remain baseless. This heavy handed approach by the Israeli authorities is clearly a publicity stunt.” Publicity for whom was not made clear.
Another investor in Kushner Co’s extensive New York properties portfolio, according to the Gulf Times report, is a secretive investment management firm called Stonehage-Fleming, which claims to represent 250 wealthy investors in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It might be interesting to know who they are, where their wealth comes from (and where it goes) but you can’t find out.
As with the property market in London, where some 10,000 ‘investment’ properties now lie empty, having been snapped up for vastly inflated prices by international ‘investors’, many of them suspected of laundering money obtained from anything from drugs to people-trafficking to bribery and arms dealing, there is no proof, no audit trail in the USA either.
Foreign ownership of properties is not required to be registered on either side of the pond and so there is no direct way of knowing who owns what or where the surplus money in the laundromat ultimately goes, if not to the thousands of virtually untraceable companies set up by middlemen like the Mossack-Fonseca partnership in Panama – or to folks like Ike Kaveladze, a Russian, now a naturalized American, said to have been the eighth attender at the controversial 9 June meeting between Donald Trump Jr and lawyer Natalia Veselnetskaya, at which Kushner was present, apparently for no reason.
Was Jared there possibly to talk to Kaveladze, accused some years ago of laundering $1.4 billion of embarrassing cash through the more-than 2,000 shell companies he helped to set up in offshore tax havens on behalf of Russian oligarchs? Manafort, too, was at the meeting, and he is said to have devoted his energies to the cause of investing money wisely on behalf of Russian and Ukrainian clients while offering ‘election advice’ for a $12 million fee to the absconded kleptocrat, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovitch.
Veselnitskaya too had laundry to discuss, having recently represented Denis Katsyv, the president of Prevezon Holdings, in a New York trial over the laundering of $230 million funds embezzled in Russia, which resulted in a tiny $6 million slap on the wrist from Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department.
How did that happen, we wonder?
Added to Kushner’s illegally undeclared meetings with Russians, including the chair of Putin’s Vnesheconombank, Sergei Gorkov, the mist clears a little.
We may possibly see an impressionable and inexperienced young man up to his neck in debt after catching a bad cold during the 2007/08 crash, whose father is in gaol for fraud – having attempted to interfere with a witness (he sexually blackmailed his own brother-in-law); something Trump Sr – who once said he knew all about cameras in hotel rooms – has been accused, but never convicted, of.
Indeed, the Kush’s behavior so closely mirrors that of orange dad-in-law down the years it’s uncannily like he’s been getting advice from him:
Never admit to anything, son. Pay no bills. Sue anyone ten times over who says you owe them money. There are plenty more banks than just the ones in the high street and they’re so stupid. Keep two sets of books at all times. Lose important pieces of paper in floods. Never sign anything unless you’re the President. Delay investigations until they go away. Keep people guessing. Crush your enemies, fire anyone who’s disloyal to you, dig dirt and compromise witnesses. Nurse those grudges. If you’ve run out of cash and there’s nothing down the back of the settee, call these friendly oligarchs whose numbers I have. Okay, they’re Putin cronies, intelligence agents, mafia, whatever, but they’ll see you right….
It’s quite like that, isn’t it. The Art of the Deal?
At the end of the day, there’s a problem. The owners of these trillions of freshly laundered dollars are running out of anything more exciting they can spend them on, apart from burrowing underground in vast climate-controlled bunkers to escape from the global warming and the wars they’re promoting.
The Pumpkin wonders if such tangled interrelationships will be forming part of the FBI’s and Special Counsel Mueller’s protracted and wide-ranging investigations into the Trump family finances, or whether they will simply sink into the ocean of virtually legalized corruption and chaos that surrounds the activities of all these tacky plutocrats – men (invariably) operating with impunity, who prefer to accumulate, rather than create, vast wealth they can boast to one another about?
At least I haven’t mentioned Russia. Oh no, I have! Damn.
*In case you don’t recognise the allusion, the ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ as proposed by the British biophysicist James Lovelock holds that the Earth is a self-regulating biological mechanism for sustaining life: a living planet. Steinmetz’s extractive operations essentially involve gouging-out huge open-cast mines in the planet’s surface and removing whole mountaintops. No wonder Israel is such a shithole full of pushy people. As it happens, the iron-ore business has collapsed owing to falling world prices and the mine he’s been accused of greasing the wheels to obtain has closed. Too bad.
**A little more digging in cases involving the Briss Family Trump usually unearths something faintly distasteful. According to The New York Times, Kushner has ‘multiple loans’ out from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, which was founded in part by the Zionist movement and has controversially been involved in financing illegal settlement projects in the West Bank. What’s more:
“The bank is currently under investigation by the US Justice Department for allegations that it helped wealthy Americans hide assets and evade taxes.” (NYT, in the Jerusalem Post, 9 Jan 2017)
Whoever could they mean?
Meanwhile, the excellent Adam Davidson of The New Yorker magazine, who in January exposed Trump’s Azerbaijan hotel deal with a corrupt oligarch having connections to the proscribed terrorist-organization, the Iranian National Guard, has done it again with a detailed analysis of Trump’s business links to the two owners of numerous companies corruptly funded by a Georgian bank (they also owned the bank!). Pointing out in passing that the Trump Organization lawyer who greenlighted both projects has been given a job in the White House… It’s a long and complex but worthwhile read:
As we’ve been saying since last year: follow the money!
Groping in the dark
“It seems clear to The Pumpkin at least that there’s a part of the American psyche that’s remained unchanged since the pioneering days of the 17th century.”
The Creator has apparently arranged a solar eclipse for Monday, 21st August.
Amazing how, considering scientists are always wrong about everything else, you all believe this. But it’s probably true.
At its most complete extent, totality, the eclipse is going to track right across the continental United States from sort of northeast Pacific coast to southwest-ish Atlantic. No, actually, it’ll be the other way, TV graphics guys please take note. The sun moves from east to west. Only the sun doesn’t move, it’s us that’s moving from west to east! Who knew?
As you can imagine, everyone is getting quite excited about it.
Especially the dumbfucks.
Trump’s fanbase have been posting all sorts of wild conspiracy theories on YouTube for weeks. The expectation is that the eclipse plus D Trump’s failing presidency that was foretold in Revelations prefigures the End Times.
Due to the combined gravitational influence of the sun AND the moon together, Facebook will crash and planes fall from the sky. There will be massive earthquakes and tsunamis. Rivers will run backwards and lakes empty themselves. Rains of frogs and plagues of boils will erupt. Long-dormant supervolcanoes will spring into life, ancient calderas spewing out trillions of tonnes of deadly white-hot ash, creating nuclear winter right around the globe. Trump will ascend to Heaven in a golden motorcade. Jesus will come to judge us. There’ll be a new series of Knightrider in the fall.
Seriously, we heard an item on the radio this morning – well, only the trailer for the item, I was too busy getting dressed – about some university in the USA that is using the occasion to measure the effect of the total eclipse on solar panels. Duh, dude, what do you think happens to solar panels in the dark? Right, and then twenty minutes later the sun comes out again, and… oh yeah, right! Heavily subsidised electricity!
It seems clear to The Pumpkin at least that there’s a part of the American psyche that’s remained unchanged since the pioneering days of the 17th century. It must have been pretty scary out there alone in the woods, on the great plains, in the mountains. Bears, wolves, bobcats, eagles, beavers – all gone now – marauding injuns, poison ivy, quaking bogs, country singers – such terrors merely added to the normal superstitions of the times: the devil stalking the land with his gleaming red eyes; corpses, witches and boogeymen comin’ ta gitcha in the howling darkness of the pristine savage wilderness; typhus, smallpox, ten-foot snowdrifts, post-partum haemorrhage, floods and droughts, huge storms, fiery comets and portentous veilings of the sun and moon… just a thin wall of rough-hewn logs separating you from the unimaginable fate that awaits all sinners.
Who, after all, invented Halloween? Asks The Pumpkin.
Americans still appear to be terrified of almost everything even now. Which is odd, as they like to pretend they’re real tough hombres who can handle a powered screwdriver. They’re terrified of communists, of black people, of medical science, of anyone whose religion diverges marginally from their own profoundly held superstitions, of intellectuals, of women, of rationality and logic, of strangers, of AIDS, of banks and loans, of their own government, of Chinese imports, of geography, of doctors, of gunslingers riding into town on pale horses, of media journalists, of impotence and constipation, of secondhand car salesmen called Big Bob – of change in any form.
We’ve been through all this before. A tick of the clock at midnight on 31st December, 1999 was supposed to destroy technology as we knew it, cancelling hospital operations, causing power outages and messing with the traffic.
There’ve been so many poorly timed prophesies of the end of the world, so many crazy rumours about massive asteroids and invisible extra planets aiming straight for us, about global conspiracies (usually code for Jews, Freemasons, the Illuminati and NASA), a new ice-age, ancient civilizations with technology we ain’t discovered yet, the sun going crazy and blowing up, of the moon falling out of the sky, alien abductions, North Koreans invading… The internet and the video upload service of YouTube have taken this national paranoia to a new level.
Get this, guys. Every once in a while the normal orbiting of the moon interposes it between us and the sun. At 239,000 miles distance the circumference of the moon seen at the right angle from a narrow track across part of the earth just exactly covers the disc of the sun, making it weirdly not entirely dark for a few minutes – mind y’all don’t stare right at that ol’ sun, you’ll go blind. No, it’s not God’s wrath, it’s just that your eyes can’t cope with the bright? They’ll burn out. Just don’t you do it, whatever Trump personally does, okay?
But the sum of gravity remains the same, right? Just because they’re in alignment doesn’t increase their mass. It’s happened lots of times before, eclipses happen somewhere every few months and stuff doesn’t get sucked into the sky. Honest.
And then the little sparkly bit appears in the corner – that’s just the sun shining through a gap between some mountain peaks on the moon, not a Special Sign that Jesus loves you, or the Moonfolks launching their nukes, and it’s over, it’s good old daylight again and you shake your head with relief and say to yourself, was that all it was?, the electricity comes back on (only joking!!! Keep burning that coal) and everything is sadly normal again until the next time.
“…the chances of Harry inheriting the crown are pretty slim; although of course in the event of World War Three hotting up, almost anything could happen.”
A Bag for Life
I had hoped British people were less absurdly inclined than Americans to imagine C-list TV celebrities can do just as good a job of running the country as any trained civil servant, career politician or mad tubby dictator with weird hair.
Unfortunately it appears I was wrong.
One shouldn’t give too much credence to the clickbait headlines in the tabloid press, especially on a Sunday in August when World War Three is the only other story doing the rounds, but my eye was caught by one in The Sunday Express, which started out with a banner howling down the perfectly acceptable Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – née Parker-Bowles, Charles’ wife – and went on in 58-pt bullet-points to inform us that more than half of Britons polled would prefer to see Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s current Yanquee-doodle hot off a US TV series called Suits, take over from the Queen.
It’s astonishing, how cretinous the press think we are. And sad that they’re often right.
Now, there are several reasons why it won’t happen. Firstly, Markle’s an American, not a British citizen. That would have to be fixed. Secondly, even if Harry were to become King, there is no automatic presumption that his girlfriend would accede to the position of Queen. That would take an Act of Parliament, and it’s a stretch to imagine that Prime Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg would stand for it, as he hasn’t stood for anything since the time of Disraeli.
Thirdly, it takes a few years of training. It’s a serious job with constitutional responsibilities, not a part for an actress posing as royal icing. People have been doing it for well over a thousand years, and they haven’t always been successful. But there’s genuine meaning and cultural tradition involved, there are no scriptwriters, and only naval ratings (ha ha).
Harry is, as anyone knows, fifth in line to the throne. He has a father, my old school chum the increasingly morose Charles, who is the heir apparent; and an elder brother to follow him who is more than competent, has inherited the Windsor bald-spot, can fly a helicopter and seems not averse to taking the job in due course.
William has thus far fathered two offspring, George (third in line) and Charlotte (fourth in line). It is not necessarily the case even that his wife, Kate, will automatically be Queen when he inherits, although (a commoner) she is furiously boning-up on the ins-and-outs of monarchy.
So the chances of Harry inheriting the crown are pretty slim; although of course in the event of World War Three hotting up, almost anything could happen.
That the British public are completely ignorant of constitutional affairs and royal protocol is not really surprising. They will almost certainly be only vaguely aware – perhaps they saw the TV show – of the unhappy precedent of King Edward V111, who in 1936 was forced to give up the throne after only 11 months in the job when he wanted to marry the American socialite and divorcée, Wallis Simpson. They toddled off to the south of France and lived together for 50 years as the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Edward’s brother George V1 took over, had a good war, and that was that.
On his death in 1952 his wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, became the dowager Queen Mother and lived to 100; while her elder daughter Elizabeth 11 ascended to the actual throne. Had all four of Elizabeth’s children perished in a drone strike, her younger sister Margaret would have been next in line – but post- her divorce from Tony Armstrong-Jones – Lord Snowdon – her gardener/boyfriend, Roddy Llewellyn, another old school chum, would not have become king.
So you see, it’s not that simple.
There are also obvious reasons why Ms Markle should not become Queen, sweet girl though I have no doubt she is.
The incumbent Queen is now 91. She was born into The Firm and brought up to do the job, which is horrid and interminably boring, requiring immense patience and stamina; not to mention, absolute loyalty to her often frustrating people and the willingness to put up with endless govelling deference.
It’s a 24/7/365 gig, from which the only reliefs are gin, horses and death from emphysema.
You get to travel sultry parts of the world known as the Commonwealth, pretending we have common interests and a heritage that didn’t consist of ruthless commercial exploitation and bloody acts of repression, trailing around with a bunch of stuffed-shirt colonials with ostrich feathers on their hats, gesturing hopefully from behind bullet-proof glass at hordes of gurning dimwits waving little flags. Heading for the beach and sunbathing topless are strictly no-nos: duty calls.
Half a dozen times a year you are obliged as a governmental necessity whenever £billion arms contracts are in the balance to throw your house open to kleptocratic, murderous foreign dictators and make small-talk over dreadful food with their many obese wives. Finding reliable servants, too, is a constant headache.
Supported by her now 96-year-old husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (NOT ‘King Philip’, you’ll note), ‘Brenda’ as the palace staff call her behind her back, has been doing it all brilliantly since 1952 without a break and is unable to retire on a pension like you and me. Out of the not especially outrageous sums of money we pay her, compared with a tenured seat for life in the House of Lords, she has to upkeep five royal residences, that are open at least in part to the public.
It’s not an act.
Not reality TV.
It’s a bag for life.