The Prophet

I don’t think he was trying to be prophetic. After all, he was writing about the past.

I was reading a century-old short story by James Joyce this week. Yes, I know, I have eclectic tastes. There was one line that struck me from the piece, because it seemed to be describing the British monarchy, not of the Victorian age but today.


Queen Victoria

In the 1914 short story Ivy Day in the Committee Room, Joyce wrote: “Here’s this chap come to the throne after his old mother keeping him out of it until the man was grey.”

The reference was to Edward VII who became King of England in 1901, upon the death of his mother Victoria. At the time she was the longest reigning monarch in British history and her son, Edward, only became King when he was 59. That was a ripe old age at the turn of the twentieth century.

The story got me thinking. In our present day another prince has turned grey waiting for his mother to die so he can become King of England. Elizabeth II has reigned longer than Victoria, and Charles, at 68, is almost a decade older than Edward was when he ascended the throne.

Charles has spent his life training for a job that he can’t do until his mother dies. I wonder what that does to a person emotionally. There must be conflicting feelings, and a feeling of guilt for having conflicted feelings.

I must admit I have no desire to see Charles as King, though I do feel a certain amount of sympathy for his position. Maybe it is time the Royal Family thought about how this whole succession thing is handled. Some political positions have term limits, maybe the monarchy should also.


James Joyce

I wonder if Joyce as he reflected on the past thought the situation would repeat itself, more than a century later.


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