The earliest citation for this egalitarian proverb is 1546 [Oxford English Dictionary], when the king in question was Henry VIII. I was going to apply it to the case, a couple of weeks ago, of the Bishop of Willesden’s snarky Twitter response to the engagement of Prince William [heir to the throne and therefore this cleric’s eventual boss]: to paraphrase,”I give it seven years. The Royal Family are all philanderers. When the wedding date is announced, I’ll be booking my republican day trip to France.” The next day, the Bishop issued a pro forma “No offense intended” statement; but by the end of the week he had been relieved of his public duties.
But that puny piece of lese majesty has since been overshadowed by last week’s riotous assault [by disgruntled students] on Prince Charles’ official car and his current wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who may actually have been “poked with a stick” through the broken window of their Rolls. [All of us curious cats may look at the now-famous photo of Camilla and the future king, wearing matching WTF facial expressions, under siege.] 182 protesters had been arrested by the following Tuesday, on the basis of CCTV footage.
Can you hear the hoofbeats of my hobbyhorse approaching? Det. Chief Superintendent Horne had this to say about the alleged perpetrators: “There was a stark contrast between scenes in Westminster and homes with crying parents and shocked young people when the police turned up. When they are shown footage of their actions that day some are shocked by the impact of their behavior.” Or to put words in their slack-jawed mouths, “I have no idea what got into me! I’m just not like that!”
To use another of my favorite Mancunian expressions, then “What are you like?” [It means “Your behavior is so bad, that similes fail me.”]
My own answer, to the Bishop and to the revolting students, is “You are like anyone else who ever got a snootfull of one or more of the Big Four Precursors: angry.” Was it intrusion? The tuition fees are set to treble in the next few years, meaning that almost all “Uni” grads will incur significant debt. Fear? “How will I ever find a job, if I can’t afford an education?” Pain & suffering? “If the government cuts back on ‘the dole,’ [unemployment benefits], I may not even be able to afford food & shelter!”
But consider the targets of their [and the Bishop’s] anger: the Royals. The ostentatiously wealthy, “Bow-to-me-when-you-address-me,” unelected, Ruling Class.
I’m thinking it was humiliation, that got up their noses. It usually is, when revolution is in the air.