February 15, 2005 | Graham

Charles and Camilla – substance over form

Valentine’s Day made me think about Charles and “the Rotweiller”, as Camilla was apparently nicknamed by Diana, Princess of Wales. “So, how did you define love?” my beloved asked, as we were sitting on my not-at-all-royal balcony. “I didn’t,” I replied, “it was truth.”
We were having a conversation about ethics, as you do on Valentine’s Day, and I had quoted Keat’s Ode to a Grecian Urn where he says “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ –that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” The idea that truth reveals itself as beauty, has appealed to me since university. And in this context, just as we love beauty, perhaps part of what Keats is saying is that truth must be loved, so in some ways perhaps I was defining love. But then, I have always taken “beauty” to be something much deeper than mere attractiveness. In the sense that the proof of a complex mathematical theory can be beautiful, “beauty” has a relationship to elegance and timelessness and singularity.
In this context, “beauty” is a complex word, not to be confused with the superficially beautiful, and in some ways life is a battle to distinguish the ugly from the beautiful, particularly when the ugly presents as the beautiful and vice-versa.
The confusion is often at its most intense in personal relationships where we want the beautiful to be true, even when it is ugly. In an age of celebrity this is particularly true, so while we are treated to all the tackiness of the personal lives of the stars and daily see proof of their failings, we are disproportionately influenced by them because they look good – the triumph of form over substance.
For me the love triangle between Charles, Camilla and Diana has always been about beauty. Diana was very conscious of the power of physical attractiveness, hence the rotweiller nickname.
On the surface the “fairy-tale” romance looked beautiful, but away from the public it was ugly. For whatever reasons Charles was in a relationship with Di and Camilla, when he should have just been in a relationship with Camilla.
While the resolution of the triangle has been very ugly, the result is, for me, satisfying. Charles has at last gone for the substance. Not that this undoes the tackiness of his relationship with Di; but inasmuch as I care about the Royal family, I wish him well.
Not so the public, it would seem. For them the appeal of the attractive would seem to overwhelm the substance. They would rather cherish the dream of the picture-postcard royal family, even if it was cancerous to the core, than the truth.
It’s often that way in divorce.

Posted by Graham at 11:48 am | Comments Off on Charles and Camilla – substance over form |
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