Anand Subhuti takes a look at the challenge facing Prince William in the years ahead
Why do we ask the impossible of our social icons and then act surprised when they can’t manage it? Anand Subhuti takes a look at the challenge facing Prince William in the years ahead.
How many times did I hear him say it? Almost in every discourse, so it seemed to me. I remembered it. I repeated it. I wrote it in big sprawling letters across the graffiti-stained walls of my mind, because it was like a lifeline out of the pain of living unconsciously:
Expectations kill you… Idealism is an elegant form of suicide… Hope is heroin for your soul.
Live in the present, he said, and don’t get hooked into creating expectations about the future. Why? Because if your expectations are not fulfilled you feel frustrated, and if they are fulfilled you feel bored because life has become predictable.
“Happiness is possible only through surprise,” declared Osho.
This simple understanding, such a vital signpost to personal fulfilment, will not be included in the ceremony at Westminster Abbey on April 29 when Prince William and Kate Middleton get married before a worldwide television audience of several hundred million people.
There will be no room for surprises in the marriage contract. Rather, they will deliberately create a massive expectation. They will publicly exchange vows “to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.”
The British public will wholeheartedly support this commitment, cheering the newly-weds when they appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Nobody, but nobody, will understand that this good-looking, happy young couple are setting up themselves – and the nation – for disappointment in the years ahead.
I really don’t want to be a spectre at the feast, nor cast a shadow over a fairy tale, nor deny royal happiness to Kate, great-granddaughter of a Yorkshire coal miner and now future Queen of England.
But, make no mistake about it, from his wedding day onwards, her husband, Prince William, will begin a lifelong struggle in which public duty and marital loyalty will clash continuously with the temptation of spontaneous romance.
Speaking personally, just between you and me, I don’t think he can hold out more than a few years – ten at the most. The marriage vows will fracture. Infidelity awaits. Love affairs beckon. Surprise will win over routine. Why? Because Wills is just too damn attractive – a Royal rock star in the eyes of the opposite sex.
One does not need to be an expert in evolutionary psychology to note that women are especially attracted to men who are good-looking, wealthy, powerful or famous. Nor does one need to be a student of Jungian archetypes to understand that princes occupy a special place – right alongside knights in shining armour — in the romantic dreams lodged in the feminine psyche. When a man scores high in all of these categories, as Prince William does, the level of attraction goes off the charts.
Ever since his visit to Canada in 1998, aged 15 years old, when hundreds of teenage girls in Vancouver screamed “Marry me William!” and “William I love you!” Prince William has been aware that he is ‘drool material’ for members of the opposite sex.
Marriage will make no difference to the prince’s sex appeal. But, unfair though it may seem, this will not be the case with Kate Middleton. If she fulfils royal expectations – as she seems eager to do – Kate will, within a relatively short time, make the transition from lover to mother. She will produce heirs to the British throne.
That’s a very different function. She can still make the effort to be glamorous, of course. But, like it or not, her hip-chick status will vanish behind the need to nurse and care for her offspring.
Statistically, we know that a third of the people in love partnerships in the UK these days have secret affairs. Half of our marriages are likely to end in divorce by the age of 45.
We know, too, that Prince William is neither a superman nor a saint. He has already indicated a readiness to stray from Kate’s side, falling for socialite Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe in 2005 – even offering to ditch Middleton if Calthorpe would be his girlfriend – and openly flirting with a pretty Brazilian on a dance floor in Bournemouth in 2007.
Sexual promiscuity is not something that can be erased by education or good intentions, as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert discovered, back in the nineteenth century, after subjecting their eldest son, Edward, to inhuman discipline.
As a boy, Edward was forced to spend all his waking hours studying, with few holidays, no sport, no recreation and no social life. Those classic ‘Victorian attitudes’ which now make us shudder were relentlessly drilled into his brain – to no avail.
Edward’s rebellion was spectacular. At the age of 20 he lost his virginity to an Irish actress called Nellie Clifden, horrifying his ailing father, who died shortly afterwards. Victoria blamed her son for the loss of her beloved Albert, but the ‘playboy prince’ never looked back. From then on, Edward had mistresses throughout his life, even after marrying Princess Alexandra of Denmark, even after being crowned King Edward VII. The brothels of Paris also welcomed him.
So, even though, Queen Elizabeth II made it an absolute rule during Prince William’s childhood that he should spend one afternoon a week with her, learning his royal duties, this is unlikely to prevent Wills from succumbing to his hormonal urges.
His grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, set an interesting example. In 1948, when his new wife Elizabeth was pregnant with their first child, Prince Philip enraged King George VI by dancing all night at a London club with showgirl Pat Kirkwood. Thereafter, the Duke’s reputation as a ladies man grew, with a number of affairs recorded by American biographer Kitty Kelley.
It was his father, however, who created the defining moment that William may imitate on April 29. Thirty years ago, Charles kissed the young, blushing Diana Spencer on the balcony of Buck House, while 750 million people around the world indulged in an orgasm of sentiment.
Only one man knew the fairy tale was fake and that was the groom himself. “I never loved Diana,” confessed Charles, years afterwards.
Wills and Kate seem better matched. Unlike Charles and Diana, they know each other well. They’ve already lived together, broken up and reunited. Kate is a mature woman, while Diana was just a giggling girl.
That’s the good news. The bad news is: none of this is likely to make any difference to the eventual outcome. Even with the best of intentions, couples tire of each other, take each other for granted, start looking around.
Why then, do we invest so much hope in royal conjugal events? It’s understandable that we enjoy them as a spectacle, but why do we project romantic dreams on royal figures, cheering as they pledge faithfulness for life, then profess to be shocked and dismayed when the illusion crumbles?
The plain, ordinary truth is that sexual attraction is a fleeting phenomenon and love is an impermanent state. But we have never been comfortable with this natural state of affairs and it’s not difficult to see why. The twin forces of sex and love are unpredictable and immensely powerful, often beyond our voluntary control.
Indeed, this is why the institution of marriage developed in the first place. It was a way of creating social stability, ensuring the paternity of children and reducing male competition – with inevitable jealousy and strife — over nubile young women.
Fair enough, job done, but maybe it’s time to explore other options. After all, we’ve been moving in the direction of greater freedom for some time. Divorce was taken out of the hands of the church in the nineteenth century, opening the door to changing partners, albeit only for wealthy and influential men. In 1923, new divorce legislation gave equality to both sexes and made it accessible to ordinary folks. Today, unmarried couples living together are a fast-growing trend in the UK, amounting to millions of people.
If we want to retain the institution of marriage, we can reinvent it as a contract that automatically expires after five years unless both partners decide to renew. More radically, we can do away with the institution altogether, using sui juris common law status to give tax breaks to couples and define parental obligations.
Not very romantic? Well, there would be nothing to stop a newly-joined couple from celebrating, taking a honeymoon, building a cosy nest together. It just wouldn’t be a binding, permanent arrangement.
Oh, but we love our dreams. We want to cling to the ideal of true love, with vows of lifelong fidelity, and if we mere commoners cannot live up to our own fantasies, at least we can project them onto our royal icons. After all, we raise them above us, so we have the right to demand more virtuous behaviour from them. That is why, when Prince William slips the ring on his bride’s finger in Westminster Abbey, symbolizing their lifelong union, millions of viewers are likely to sigh with deep contentment.
But, for all the pomp and pageantry that kicks off this royal partnership, it will be under pressure from day one. Everywhere William goes, women will want him… and he won’t always be accompanied by his wife. Everywhere, too, the paparazzi will be lurking with their high-tech telephoto lenses. Shall we write the headlines now?
Kate Devastated by Wills’ Betrayal… Prince’s Secret Love Tryst… Wicked Wills’ Wild Weekend…
Back in 1996, when William was only 14 years old, Time magazine put him on its cover with the headline “Can this boy save the monarchy?”
The reason? A generation of British Royal marriages had proved dysfunctional – neither Fergie nor Di could play the game – and Time was looking to Diana’s eldest son for renewed hope in the Windsor dynasty.
It’s easy to find hope in the innocence of youth. But that young boy is now 28 years old and one of the most desirable men on the planet.
Good luck, Wills. Good luck, Kate.
Text by Subhuti for Osho News
Subhuti is a writer and a journalist. He has worked as a political reporter in the British Houses of Parliament and created ‘The Rajneesh Times’ newspaper in Oregon. He has also written several musicals and plays, and is currently working as a ghost writer. He has been a sannyasin for 34 years. He is also author of My Dance with a Madman, a chronicle of his life in India with Osho. www.anandsubhuti.com