Iain Dale is Leading Britain's Conversation.
6 May 2017, 20:42
The Duke of Edinburgh stepped down this week from whatever it is he does for a living. He did so in a blaze of flattery by the press that would embarrass Donald Trump.
There was so much ink spent in kow-towing to his royal highness that they could have painted a church with it.
The Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, is known as Air Miles Andy because of his love of travel at other's expense. Mostly, ours.
He is now about to emerge from the shadows to take a more prominent role in the family firm.
Insiders at the palace say they are going to rehabilitate him in the public's eyes.
I hate to sound ungrateful for all his loyal service but I think that his rehabilitation depends on us, rather than on them. He will be rehabilitated in the public's eye when the public decides, not when we are told that he is now rehabilitated.
If I were him, I wouldn't hold my breath. He is just not well liked.
Just imagine that your school or club is told that it will be receiving a royal guest and everyone goes round painting the whole place from top to bottom and re-lays the grass and breaks the budget on flowers and spends 3 months preparing the most fabulous feast that you have ever seen and when the helicopter lands in the playing field to disgorge the mystery royal guest, out gets Prince Andrew.
Can you imagine the disappointment?
You were all geared up for Her Maj, or Wills and Wotsit, and you get him. It could only be worse if he couldn't attend and sent his daughters instead, who show up with satellite dishes strapped to their heads.
We are witnessing the beginning of the end for the royal family. The slow fade out starts here.
Once the Queen goes, that's it, game's over.
The coverage of the Duke's "retirement" read like an obituary for the House of Windsor.
The usual royal hem sniffers piled it on about his lifetime of selfless service but his job, if you can call it that, was to get driven to some place that had been cleaned and polished to within an inch of its life, to glad-hand some carefully selected genuflecting cap-doffer and say something indelicate that everyone felt required to laugh at and then swan off in a blizzard of sirens and flashing lights.
And for that onerous task, which he did not have to interview for, he could not be fired from, nor ever had justify his performance, he got more money in one year than the rest of us will earn in our lifetimes.
He got waited on, hand and foot, by literally hundreds of servants and had anything he wanted brought to him where ever he was, on a sold silver platter at the time of his choosing.
For all that selfless service, he and his business partner was given £45m a year and the run of two palaces, three castles a house and two lodges. All fully staffed with hot and cold running servants.
The patriotic wing of the press came out, all guns patriotically blazing, for the retiring Duke, going on about his legendary wit, which would just be called being rude and insensitive if we had said it.
They chirruped about his hard work ethic of official engagements, each of which we would call the best day of our lives if we were lucky enough to do it.
They talked in breathless tones of the 785 charities and organisations that enjoy his patronage
Forgive me, but what exactly did he do for 785 of them?
That's like those people that follow hundreds of people on Twitter. They are not following them at all; it's just collecting names in the hope that some of them will follow them back.
They are not actually paying attention to any of those people they supposedly follow. How would they have the time?
If the Duke of Edinburgh actually did anything for those charities other than lend them his name, he would be visiting them briefly once in a blue moon, an event that would probably cost the charity a good amount of the money they would have raised that year, what with all the sprucing up and the vittles they would feel obliged to lay on.
Assuming that he took 4 weeks holiday a year, and worked 5 days a week, it would take him about 3 and a half years to visit them all once.
Lending your name to a thing doesn't mean you are involved in any way, just as if something has got the name Trump on it, it doesn't mean that the orange nightmare has had anything to do with it.
His business is a branding exercise, just like the royal family is a branding exercise.
The Queen and the Duke show their face and get their picture taken before vanishing off in a blaze of sirens, past halted traffic.
It is just enough to titillate the masses and keep the old dears on the pavement with the plastic flags and Thermos flasks happy.