Friday, May 12, 2023

Andy Young: Every 70 years, whether they need one or not

By Andy Young

On the night he was born, his father was out playing squash with his private secretary.

King Charles III of England
As a youngster he was teased at school. Not only was he called “Fatty” by the bullies he was harassed over his large and protruding ears. His great-uncle suggested to his parents that they get their boy’s protruding appendages surgically pinned back, but because they ignored that recommendation, the lad grew to have more than a passing resemblance to Alfred E. Neuman, the fictitious but ubiquitous cover model for over 500 issues of Mad Magazine.

When he was 14-years-old, he ordered a cherry brandy at a pub. The drinking age at the time was 18. When his youthful misstep became public, his socially prominent family was sufficiently embarrassed to give the bodyguard they employed to protect their son his walking papers.

After matriculating, the young man pursued a naval career, ultimately qualifying as a helicopter pilot. He later gave up flying after botching the landing of a jet aircraft with 11 people aboard. Of the incident, he later remarked, “We went off the end of the runway, unfortunately. It is not something I recommend.”

Like many adults he has committed a social faux pas or two. One of the more awkward ones: thoughtfully sending a gift to a friend who had been seriously injured in a quad bike crash. Unfortunately, the gift was a bottle of scotch; the recipient, singer Ozzy Osbourne, was a recovering alcoholic.

His first wedding, to a charismatic and photogenic woman 13 years his junior, received international attention. However, their very public divorce 13 years later was both deflating and humiliating, and her death in a motor vehicle accident a year later poured salt into what was still an open wound.

But patience is a virtue, and this fellow clearly has it in spades. How many people end up in a career where he has to wait over 70 years for his first promotion?

Last weekend at Westminster Abbey, England held its first coronation since 1953. But the 74-year-old new king wasn’t just twiddling his thumbs while waiting to ascend to the throne. He’s met with 10 different US presidents in his life: Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon (who none-too-subtly tried to set up his daughter Tricia with the then-Prince of Wales), and every one since Jimmy Carter took office in 1977.

He was awarded $25,000 for winning the Vincent Scully Prize for architecture in 2005, but then donated it to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, noting that he and his new wife, Camilla, were “absolutely horrified” by the suffering and destruction they had seen on TV.

While in Barbados helping to celebrate the former British colony’s transition to a republic in November 2021 he publicly acknowledged “the appalling atrocity of slavery.”

He’s 5-foot-10 in height and weighs somewhere around 175 pounds. A friend to the environment, he refrains from eating fish and meat two days a week and eschews dairy products once a week as well. He usually has granola and fruit for breakfast, although he consumes boiled eggs now and again. One of his favorite meals, according to, is lamb with wild mushroom risotto. In many ways he’s an average Joe, albeit one who owns $500 million in personal assets, and has another $46 billion that’s held in trust.

It can’t be easy living one’s entire life under a microscope. Perhaps it’s not necessary (or fair) to have a nation’s taxpayers underwrite a royal family. But if there has to be a king, England (and the world) could do a whole lot worse than Charles III. <

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