Friday, September 01, 2006

What Does William Do?

On the wake of ninth anniversary of the accidental (or outright intentional) Princess Diana car crash, I have to wonder what legacies she imparted to her children aside from inherited physical attractiveness.

Diana is remembered as "The People's Princess", a woman who befriended the poorest and sickest of men. She was imperfect, an adulteress who suffered from bouts of bulimia. But she shared her flaws with the world, in the hopes that others would gain strength from her example, and embarked on a life-long quest to make the most of her situation, even when it was obviously not the fairy tale she'd dreamt of. Diana was aware that she captivated the world's attention, and like it or not, the world's most hunted celebrity used her publicity as a forum to launch public awareness campaigns on eating disorders, land mines, and AIDS. In fact, she was shaking hands with AIDS patients before anything was even known about the risks of physical contact with AIDS victims. Yes, she was glamorous and somewhat naive, but her true beauty rested in her sensitivity and compassion, heart and desire to make changes where she saw opportunity.

On to Diana's sons, the keepers of the dream. We saw them walking solemnly behind their mummy's casket, their heads bowed to the ground. They were seemingly forced to go from boys to men overnight, and like true royals, had to face the public in their darkest hours and emotionally held themselves together under the imposing eyes of their nation and the world. Just moments after the funeral, the boys shook hands with teary-eyed well wishers and mourning Brits, finding a smile to flash and clearly touched by their mother's influence on the world, which was strong enough to incite over a billion people worldwide to tune in to her funeral.

The boys clearly had public sympathy on their side, and a rare pact with the media who promised to respect their privacy in exchange for yearly photo shoots and interviews while they went to college. They were nicknamed "The Heir and The Spare", youngest brother Prince Harry given the most leniency as his likelihood of succeeding to the throne was slim. Harry certainly acted the part, engaging in one controversy after another from his experimentation with marijuana and cheating on his college exams to his infamous Nazi party costume and fights with lurking paparazzi. William, presumably one day to be known as King William V, was instantly loveable as he had the good fortune of inheriting Diana's looks and shy-but-charismatic demeanor. As a prince-in-waiting, William was supposed to begin his royal duties at 18. Instead, he chose to tuck himself away in a university in Scotland, where he would be secluded from paparazzi and able to 'live a normal life' for the duration of his education. William earned high marks and a degree in Geology, scholastic tests showed he was the smartest of the British royals past or present. So what does he do when he graduates? He joins Sandhurst, one of the most elite British military academies, where he will once again be protected from the camera's lens. What exactly is William going to do with extensive military training? Surely, he'll never fight in a war. He is far too valuable and indispensable to the future of the monarchy for such an endeavor. Granted, a royal-in-waiting has nothing else to do but kill time, like the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips who just won the world championship in horse racing and will surely race for her country at the 2008 Olypmics. The few times William is seen, he is off getting drunk and partying his ass off, or canoodling with his boring girlfriend, or hanging out with his elitist friends.

The royal family serves little function in this day and age minus their symbolic status and occasional dips into charity work. The future of the outdated monarchy rests on young William's shoulders, and he seems to care less. It's such a waste to see a young man with so much promise thrown away: an intelligent mind spent hiding and training for a dead-end career, a young man who prompts the world's attention and choses to evade responsibilities instead of using his position to the advantage of the needy, a man who doesn't seem to have one friend that isn't a celebrity, royal, or bloke banking millions of dollars.

Is this really what Diana wanted? She was once quoted as saying "All my hopes are on William." She'd be rolling over in her grave right now if she saw how callous and unconcerned the future heir appears to be with everyone but himself. The beauty of Diana was her ability to make the most of her position and situation. Even when she was stripped of her royal status, she knew her place in the hearts and minds of others and continued to set an example for her country and positively represent Britain to the world abroad. She was aware of her power and used it to her advantage, not for selfish reasons, but to improve the quality of life for millions of people.

In all fairness, William isn't the antichrist. He could be worse. But given his position and birthright, this is a man who seems to have it all: Looks, intelligence, athletic ability, artistic talents, fortune, fame, charisma -
and he truly seems to be giving little in return to make it seem worth it to all those taxpayers who have shelled out the funds to support his lavish lifestyle.

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