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Canadians don’t know much about Prince Charles. Lucky for him.

Charles certainly does have a vision for the future. He hates it.


 

According to a private survey conducted by Brian Mulroney’s PR firm, Canadians are apathetic about Prince Charles. An editor of the Daily Telegraph called the results of the poll “devastating” for the Prince and the Monarchy, but imagine how devastating it would be if Canadians actually knew what Charles believed.

Why? Because Charles is crazy.

The Man Who Probably Won’t Be King arrives in Canada this evening for an 11-day tour of our Dominion. The visit comes at an interesting time for our Head of State, with the recent fight between Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex over who is really in charge here compounding the public indifference to the Monarchy and the growing realization that the getting rid of it is virtually impossible.

Charles has an opportunity to buff the Crown a bit while he’s here. He’s giving four speeches and a few other “remarks” during regimental visits, but if he hopes to win over the 47 percent of Canadians who disagreed with the statement that the Prince “has a vision for the future,” he’d be advised to keep his thoughts on the future to himself. Charles certainly does have a vision for the future. He hates it.

In a series of speeches and articles over the past few years, Prince Charles has explained how he has come to see how his early views on architecture, the environment, and society are all tied together by a single unifying idea that he calls “the need for harmony.”What undermines harmony is a mechanistic worldview that puts humanity at the center of creation, sees technology as the locomotive of progress, and fuels a disconnection that permits us to plunder the earth in the name of the “freedom it brings us, not to say the profit.”

Here’s a typical passage:

Our perception of what we are and where we fit within the scheme of things is fractured. This is why I consider our problems today not just to be an environmental crisis, nor just a financial crisis. They all stem from this fundamental crisis in our perception. By positioning ourselves outside Nature, we have abstracted life altogether to the extent that our urbanised mentality is out of tune with the key principles underpinning the health of any economy and of all life on Earth. And those principles make up what is known as “Harmony.”

It turns out that Prince Charles is the David Suzuki of British royalty, a purveyor of tired anti-modernity slogans lamenting the disenchantment of the world, individualism, consumerism, our obsession with technology and profit, and our inevitable alienation from nature. In order to recover from this alienation and restore our lost authentic wholeness, we need to learn “the grammar of harmony,” restore our lost “balance,” and achieve “organic order,” by inventing technologies that “work with the grain of Nature rather than against it.”

What any of this means exactly, by way of policies, institutions  or technologies, Prince Charles does not say (perhaps on the grounds that this would be seen as an intervention into “politics”.) At any rate, I suppose it is not surprising that a man whose entire reason for living is based on a romantic attachment to the past is suspicious of modernity.  Charles does concede that while there may have been some worthwhile advances in the preceding centuries (steam trains perhaps, or maybe the Restoration) the twentieth century, as he sees it,  has been an unmitigated disaster.

Canadians are apathetic about the Monarchy? Given what Prince Charles believes, our remaining so is probably the best-case scenario.


 

Canadians don’t know much about Prince Charles. Lucky for him.

  1. He's also worryingly enamoured (in an odd kind of Victorian-Orientalist way) with Islam.

  2. "The Man Who Probably Won't Be King"

    Is that based on anything in particular?

    • Fervent hope?

  3. If Prince Charles is crazy does that mean everyone who champions the self destructive status quo is sane?

    • When the world finally goes completely to hell, I don't expect to last long, but I'll only really be disappointed in myself if I don't outlast Andrew Potter. ; )

        • You're on! Countdown to 2012 begins…now! Shall we make it a gentlemen's wager, or would you like to choose the amount in a soon-to-be-valueless currency?

        • Can you take the drought? Not for more than a few days.

  4. Say what you want about Charles, but I pity the man. He's grown up in a cold, dysfunctional family, training his entire life for a job no one wants him to have, and he will probably never get. He is a serious, thoughtful man, but has become the royal people love to mock – a pretty tough gig.

    • I think every royal in a contemporary world, has a choice to make. Either break out of the traditional mold and role to become an outspoken intellectual, or recognize the role for what it is, send letters to centenarians and smile a lot. Elizabeth understands that.

  5. a purveyor of tired anti-modernity slogans lamenting the disenchantment of the world, individualism, consumerism, our obsession with technology and profit, and our inevitable alienation from nature.

    In contrast to the exhausting "Here Come Everybody!!" hypercative, ADD-inflicting, techno-exuberant twaddle, it's kind of refreshing. Sharpens critical thinking, which is something that's not allowed in the Web 2.0 age, which requires uncritical and breathless support in order to operate minimally within it.

    Prince Charles is indeed crazy, though. But it's not like critics of modernity took to him for inspiration.

    A rather flaccid effort, this post.

    • I guess Charles is a pretty handy straw man for some.

      • Especially for intellectually-lazy journalists.

  6. Charles has his problems, and I doubt there are very many opinions which he and I hold in common, but the statements Potter presents here don't support the claim that he's "crazy".

    I've been labelled "crazy" enough times by those who merely disagree with me to know that it's usually a thoughtless ad hominem. Potter seems to be using it in that manner, rather than in any meaningful way. That's disappointing.

  7. Disappointing effort on this one Andrew.

    • I love the Consolation of Philosophy too.

  8. "They all stem from this fundamental crisis in our perception. By positioning ourselves outside Nature, we have abstracted life altogether to the extent that our urbanised mentality is out of tune with the key principles underpinning the health of any economy and of all life on Earth. And those principles make up what is known as “Harmony.”

    I think it is fair comment with the crazy label if you are going to write/think like that. Charles has been reading too many new age books for his own good. And it's a bit much to listen to heir to throne complaining about profits, which have paid for Charles and his family to be idle, when Charles' food business sells expensive food to people who are well off.

  9. ". . . tired anti-modernity slogans lamenting the disenchantment of the world, individualism, consumerism, our obsession with technology and profit, and our inevitable alienation from nature."

    So come up with some new ones. Honestly, sometimes Mr. Potter seems so ferociously against the latest Starbucks Eco-Jazz Deadlock pastry that he seems to think carping against carping isn't carping. Does he deny that there is something — I'd call it "philosophy" but that is liable to misunderstanding — that is profoundly lacking in our world? Does he consider modern human beings, with their never-ending silent panic about death, their total lack of cosmology, their truly barbaric lack of common courtesy — does he consider them an improvement on the era Charles keeps harking back to? Let him actually come clean and not carp.

    • So come up with some new ones.

      I think Potter bought into the "order from chaos" approach to human development some time ago and decided that's the only system of thought we need.

      Which is really just common sense. I mean, everything always works out for the better eventually, right?

    • "modern human beings, with their never-ending silent panic about death, their total lack of cosmology, their truly barbaric lack of common courtesy "

      Hmmm…I am a keen student of history and if there is a moment in the history of the human race when all three of these observations were not true, then I have not been paying attention.

      For myself, I am grateful every day that I live in Canada in the year 2009, when in every measure of physical and mental wellbeing I am infinitely better off than I might be living at any other time (and probably in any other place..except the weather, damn weather…).

      I understand nostalgia for the past, but Prince Charles and his ilk have made a fetish of it, and it is one of the curses of England that they have allowed these attitudes to burden them.

      • I guess it's a question of standards. To take, I dunno, public architecture as one benchmark, a building of 2009 is apt to say either "Who cares?" or (better) "Revel in the moment, brief mortal!"; a building from 1759 is apt to say, "Here I stand for all eternity," i.e. it reinforces the social and cosmological order and thus mitigates the persistent horror not so much of death as of our own irrelevance. The main reason you don't spit on the floor of a typical bank building today is because you would be thrown out by building security (or you have some kind of guilt complex about spitting in public); the reason you don't and didn't spit on the floor of a bank building of 1759 is that its inner Harmony, to coin a phrase, makes you feel better about yourself.

        "I am grateful every day that I live in Canada in the year 2009"

        That's because you are aware of what it was like to live in the past. In the past, people were not aware of what it was like to live in eras prior to their own. Also, if you were living in the past, you wouldn't know how great you'd have it in the Canada of 2009. On that note, why do you prefer the Canada of 2009 to the Canada of 2209, when you'll be able to shower just by taking a pill? Kind of makes you look like a bit of a schmuck to have been born into the Canada of 2009 when there'll be all that fun stuff coming up. Guess you and I are just two of history's losers in that regard.

        • I once had the opportunity to visit an old bank building in London about 40 years ago with my grandfather. It had all the ambiance of a cathedral; acres of polished marble, gold and glass fittings and whispered voices in the corners. We had to line up in the middle while a uniformed commissionaire marched around looking down his nose at us all and gestured us to the next empty window.

          I remember my grandfather, who was very tall, complaining about the height of the teller windows; they were little gothic doorways, complete with a portcullis grille, set at a height that required you to bend and peer in to the teller. The effect was to make you feel like a supplicant, and the banks then treated their customers with complete disdain and disregard.

          All the same – the buildings were rather magnificent. I won't argue about the dismal state of architecture at the moment, though it is worth pointing out that all the crap from former ages has fallen down or been swept away.

        • Dude, any building from 1759 that is still around today is, by definition, saying, "Here I stand for all eternity."

      • "I am infinitely better off than I might be living at any other time (and probably in any other place."

        I had a lot more freedom growing up as a child in a city of 50,000 than children do these days, even when they live in pleasant, safe suburbs.

        I could go camping in the bush overnight with my friends when I was 13.

        • I think this says more about modern parents than anything else….

      • Canada is a big place, and the world an even bigger one. Is it better to be a Canadian citizen of comfortable means now than a french peasant in 1250? Surely. Do you have a better standard of living as a french peasant in 1250 than someone living in the worst neighbourhoods of Regina, or on some of our native reserves? I wouldn't be so sure.

        • What makes you so sure of that? "Standard of living" depends on more than creature comforts.

  10. I pleasantly pleased by the defense of Prince Charles' character, even from the anti-monarchists here.

    I'm suspicious of romanticism of the past myself, but it is rather hard to dispute that in many ways the 20th century has been a disaster for reasons of ecological destruction, social upheaval, and rampant and particularly destructive warfare. There have been great social strides in literacy, social mobility, and equality globally, though I'm unsure whether standard of living is a wash or not. Certainly we have a much higher standard of living in our society, but in many more populous societies they might have considerably less than when the 20th century started.

    I also think the past, no matter what crimes exist within it, can have something to teach the future no matter how optimistic. If someone is more romantic than optimistic I don't necessarily assume that is character flaw or sign of a lack of sanity.

    • I do not consider "optimism at any price" very hard-nosed. The true optimist actually wants to improve things on all levels and believes it is possible to do so (this requires blind faith) but makes an honest assessment of what is and isn't improving. As you have done here.

      I'm surprised, however, that you left off "the collapse of organised religion" from your list of un-improvements. IMO that is the biggest event of the 20th century, though it was foreshadowed in the 19th when history cut the ground out from under the feet of belief. Nihilistic optimism — "poseur optimism," if you will — is the result. There is so much unsophisticated Christian eschatology in democracy's faith in progress.

      • I think it's best if the people that belong to organized religion know why they are there and what they believe, rather than purely for ethnic or political reasons. I don't particularly see anything wrong with getting out of bed with the "City of Man" for awhile, and it usually is cause for a better Church if it concentrates on God, the Gospels, and personal discipline of achieving holiness. The true mission of the church does not require secular power and is often compromised by it.

        Besides, my church hasn't collapsed yet and even if it does leave behind a much reduced population in North America and Europe, it will largely leave behind the philosophers. To put it bluntly, we aren't losing our best and brightest thinkers (though not all who leave are incapable of thought in other capacities). Even if we lose 9/10ths of our numbers, it is more than enough to evangelize the world. If we are persecuted by an aggressive majority, martyrs merely provide the seeds of new growth.

        Besides, who is there to replace us? Scientologists? Mormons? Pentecostals and Evangelicals? Followers of new age movements? Mass market gurus like Chopra or Tolle? Dawkins-style atheists? All of those are supposedly flourishing in the "modern world". Meh… colour me smugly unimpressed. I will enjoy my sophisticated Christian philosophers thanks.

        • I honestly do not understand how a religious patriot like yourself can think it is better that people are no longer in Church. For eons the Sunday sermon was an opportunity for ordinary people to hear philosophy. Nowdays the call of the Wii has replaced the call of the Lord. This is not a good thing, but it's intimately tied to modernity for a gazillion reasons. The point being that philosophy has disappeared from ordinary life.

          • *shrugs* The people that are leaving have no interest in learning. When they desire to learn, they will come to a church that has the intellectual tradition capable of teaching. Public participation in the church has always ebbed and flowed over the centuries, and this just happens to be a time when it is ebbing. There is very little that you can do to teach anyone that refuses to acknowledge that Church has the authority to teach, unless you resort to force.

            Better to instead worry about not losing the orthodoxy of the faith, so that when the inevitable revival occurs, you have the good news to proclaim. After all, the Church is immortal and the forces of hell will never prevail against it. Until then, we faithful are not getting shot at, the Church is growing in places that aren't self-indulgent consumerist societies, and we still have a vibrant core of intellectual and spiritual practice. With that good news, it is hard to concentrate on the bad news that the heterodox, the lazy, the arrogant, and the apathetic are not shuffling into Mass. Largely, to be a faith that is growing in this society, we'd need to act and think like the religious movements that are currently growing in our society. I don't know about you, but none of those are religious movements that I want to be a part of.

            For the intellectual, disciplined, charitable, and pleasant atheists and believers of other religions that exist, I can enjoy discussions and debates with them. If they desire to learn the truth as my faith understands it, then they'll come with me if I proclaim that truth, not if I whine about how society is going to hell in a handbasket. After all, society has always been going to hell in a handbasket.

          • Well said.

            The soft edges are carved away, leaving behind the steel. This is not a bad thing.

    • I pleasantly pleased by the defense of Prince Charles' character, even from the anti-monarchists here.

      I'm surprised that HRHs character asssment isn't affected by the fact he was an adulterer> seems to me that "the man who would be king" would either have better discretion, or be a more accomplished liar. I seem to recall something about Henry VIII and adultery and divorce being important in England's past. Other stuff about oaths and honour come to mind as well

      All that said the dude's a moonbat in spades, notwithstanding the occasional project he supports which i agree with…ie The Prince's Trust report on the huge saving that could be realized in the NHS with more emphasis on alternative medicine prepared by Barclay's chief economist.

      • Oh, he's a moonbat, an eccentric, and an adulterer (though he probably wouldn't have been if he'd simply married the woman he wanted in the first place) but he isn't so crazy as people paint him. He is certainly a functioning enough crazy, even if he lacks the seriousness of personality possessed by his mother or his elder son.

  11. Actually, I think that it is time for Canada to have its own line of Royalty. That's right, replace The Queen and her brood with the only royal ever born in Canada, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Margriet_of
    By all accounts she is a very popular member of the Dutch royal household, has four very sensible children and often attends royal functions in the Netherlands. Therefore, she would already be familiar with the functioning of a constitutional monarchy, would be our real Head of State, would likely cost less than our present system and would be much more of a tourist draw than a Governor General.

    • That's a great idea! And, being Dutch, she wouldn't fall on either side of the French-English split. Who doesn't like the Dutch?

      • "Who doesn't like the Dutch? "

        Short people, that's who. If they're in charge, everything will be on the top shelf.

    • The English tried this 300 years ago (ditching the local King for a Dutchman) and it worked out quite well for a bit, but then the new lot went bonkers as well.

      Given his upbringing and situation, Charles could very much worse than he is, but I think Potter is right on the money to describe his as crazy. He fell under the spell of Van der Post, who wrote very charming novels and made some very evocative descriptions of the Kalahari bushmen, but was otherwise pretty ineffectual as a philosopher.

      Charles loves the idea of going back to the pre or early industrial age, since this was indeed a wonderful time to be an English royal or aristocrat. He might answer differently if he had to live a less privileged life in those good old days.

      • Fortunately, these days, thanks to Progress, we can offer everyone the benefits of being an English aristocrat in the 16th century. Doesn't sound too crazy to me. The past is not a job lot: you can admire what's admirable about it and despise what's despicable.

        • Exactly. Every era has things to teach us, including our own.

    • Well, given that she spent her earliest years at Stornaway, we could always offer her the old dump as a sweetener. Of course that would mean Iggy would have to move somewhere else. Back to Cambridge, if he's smart.

  12. It's true, they're apparently the tallest nation on earth. Which I can never quite believe, because my best Dutch friend is about 5 feet tall. Though I'm not sure she liked the Dutch that much either.

    • You only survive to reproduce if you can keep your head above sea level…

      • as a Canadian of Dutch descent, should I be offended or giggling right now? ( I am giggling)
        my little brother is 6 foot 6.

        great idea, and if she turns it down, I'll be king. you're welcome.

        • You certainly have my permission to giggle.

          • King Marty the Giggler? I like it. Very Dark Age.

  13. Charles has a vision for the future; it's just not my vision of the future.

  14. Check out "The Sustainable Prince" by Joan Veon. Even die-hard monarchists will blush.

  15. Charles is not crazy – it is the lazy journalists who constantly mock and criticise him, and those who disagree with his messages of sustainability and tolerance, who are crazy – and extremely rude. Ultimately the prince will have the last laugh. History is on his side.

  16. Thin gruel here Andrew.
    So much to work with on this subject, and all you did was make Charles look reasonable with those quotes. I expect more from a takedown artist like yourself. Next time use the shiv or walk away from the fight.

  17. I don't see anything in those passages that point to a particular craziness. But when you hear him say things like he would like to be reincarnated as a tampon…well…that's when there might be some cause for concern.

  18. .”What undermines harmony is a mechanistic worldview that puts humanity at the center of creation, sees technology as the locomotive of progress, and fuels a disconnection that permits us to plunder the earth in the name of the “freedom it brings us, not to say the profit.”

    You know, if you close your eyes, he sounds an awfully lot like Osama bin Laden. JUst substitute "Islam" for "nature".

    • Yes, if you completely change the meaning of what Charles is saying it sounds like something Bin Laden would say.

      Likewise, if you close your eyes and just substitute "the Jews" for "humanity", he kinda sounds like Hitler.

      • Actually, not so much.

  19. Why is it that privileged Caucasians seem to be the most publicly overwrought with guilt about the environment and consumerism yet do nothing to reduce their own standard of living? Apparently when you claim the status of messenger you're exonerated from making sacrifices on behalf of your own causes. Al Gore? Robert Kennedy Junior? Prince Charles?

    • Of the three, I'd say that Prince Charles probably has the most modest lifestyle.

    • no kidding. throw that guy from Cirque on the list, Mr liberal in favour of govt handouts and programs, but fires injured employees while spending millions on wild parties; or David Suzuki, Mr save the planet but I'll have 6 kids, thank you very much.
      wait, I guess Suzuki is not quite a priviliged Caucasian, but you get my drift.

  20. This article has made me like Charles quite a whole lot more. That isn't an endorsement, but the fact that even people as like to have an outdated way of seeing the world as the British monarchy have caught on that our emphasis on profit as the ultimate guide and the individual the only political unit worth caring about, is quite telling. The Catholic Church recently honoured Marx of all people, because what they have in common is a distinct dislike of the excesses of modernity.

    It is all very encouraging. If we are to break out of our current trajectory, it is going to take a certain unity from all kinds of segments of society. So I do not mind at all when the Church or the Monarchy chime in that what is going on is not sustainable.

    • "The Catholic Church recently honoured Marx of all people, because what they have in common is a distinct dislike of the excesses of modernity. "

      No we didn't. An academic wrote a piece favourable of certain aspects of Marx's ideas in the L'Osservatore Romano. It is like saying the Canada honoured Marx if an academic praised Marx in an editorial carried by the CBC.

  21. King Marty the Giggler, Sibling of the Towering. Perhaps a bit more dark-age-ish?

    • Reminds me of the great Conan the Barbarian prologue:

      "Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!"

      I've always loved this. First, you drink the ocean, the ocean doesn't drink you, if anything it eats you, since you (and Atlantis) are solid. Then "an age undreamed of." Undreamed of by the people in the age? Or by such as we? Why dreaming? Anyway, then the second sentence has no verb. Then you get the switch from "tell thee" to "tell you." It's perfect, really.

      I like the Towering Brother.

      • Did your friends look at you funny at the movies, when they bought popcorn barrels and soda pop cups the size of their heads, and you eagerly pulled out your red pen?

        ;)

        • Would that my friends were rich enough to afford big popcorn and big drinks at the movies. Whereas pedantry is like soccer: all you need is a ball and, at most, some socks and shoes.

          • Mommy, why isn't that kid wearing anything except shoes and socks out there on the soccer field?

          • my giggling is now guffawing. nicely done, you two, although you lost me a little with the Conan monologue, Jack; I only have a B.A.

            who says that Macleans comment boards are exclusivley the purview of partisan peeps?

          • Happy to entertain, Your Potential Future Highness.

  22. I couldn't care less about the monarchy, but I would far rather have someone like Charles leading by example than any other current western head of state. Are all of you Charles-haters here actually enamoured with the way Harper, Obama, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Brown. Merkel etc. conduct themselves??

  23. I have mixed feelings on the Prince:
    .”What undermines harmony is a mechanistic worldview that puts humanity at the center of creation, sees technology as the locomotive of progress, and fuels a disconnection that permits us to plunder the earth in the name of the “freedom it brings us, not to say the profit.”
    yes, this is crazy new age pap spoken by an aristo who misses the feudal order of things given how badly the white trash in the UK behave now.
    However, sum up his causes in bullet points:
    1) many 1950s-on modern buildings are god-awful ugly and poorly designed, especially when they're executed in Britain's crowded, historic context 2) industrial food can be creepy and traditional farming / organics can create good tasting food.

    he started saying this when it was really uncool in the 80s. Now, largely, most people agree with him, even some U.S. Republicans who shop at Whole Foods. Besides big-splash starchitect projects, architecture now champions the tasteful infill that respects its local community, doesn't overwhelm etc.

  24. The application of Charles' ideas isn't as relevant to Canada as it is to britain, partly because we don't have a big problem with the lower class of society running amok, partly because our urban nature makes farming seem like something rednecks do rather than something the wealthy urban sophisticate aspires to as in England; also, our skyscrapers are cooler and the country's so bloody empty that who cares if we pave over more prairie west of Edmonton with sprawl.
    As Charles therefore stays an exotic foreign figure he might as well be a Japanese emperor trimming his bonsai tree, and is therefore cute.
    If he started trashing our oil sands as evil, watch a pan-ideological republican movement erupt in a hurry.

  25. the real republican movement starts when useless Sloane William becomes king. That guy has nothing to relate to Canada or the commonwealth and is airhead Eurotrash party scene through and through

  26. I don't care for Charles.

    I really don't.

    We're spending $700,000 a day to have him here in Canada. We're wasting our money. I saw some kids begging on the street in Toronto today. And we're spending 700,000 a day on foreigners.

    *sighs*

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