celebrity to die for

This just in: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has breasts. She has two in total, one on the left, the other on the right.

This just in: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has breasts.

She has two in total, one on the left, the other on the right. There are no reports of abnormalities in either breast, and from a distance both appear perfectly capable of producing milk for future royal children, of which the Duchess’s husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is thinking about having two.

The presence of breasts has always been implied by the shape of Her Highness’s clothing, but it must be a comfort to the British public to have her suitability for motherhood confirmed by an anonymous French photographer, who caught the duchess sunbathing.

Unfortunately the royals themselves take a different attitude towards the photos and whoever snapped them. They have taken to the courts to suppress the pictures and catch the culprit, with little success, although in France they did manage to get an injunction against further publication in one magazine, and an investigation into whether there should be a criminal investigation. But what exactly is it that their Highnesses are trying to hide?

It’s only a couple of weeks ago that the subject of unclothed royals last came up. On that occasion the Duke’s younger brother, Prince Harry of Sloan Square, had reason to be embarrassed, given that he had obviously done very badly in a game of strip billiards. But in this case, what was Duchess Kate up to that she doesn’t want anyone to know about? What was so shameful about sunbathing by a (relatively) private pool?

It is possible that Kate and William aren’t really all that bothered by the whole business, but are under pressure from the palace spin-people, or perhaps from Grandmama, to put up a fight. It would be nice to believe that the royal couple were enjoying a bit of an ironic chuckle when they chose to visit the Solomon Islands this week, to be greeted by women in traditional grass skirts and bared breasts.

There is yet a third story connecting the young royals with nudity, this one more serious in nature. The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo ran a cartoon of a nude prophet Mohammed this week, and the Taliban have added this to the list of charges on which they plan to “arrest” or kill Prince Harry, alias Captain Wales, serving as a helicopter co-pilot in Afghanistan. Two U.S. Marines died last week in an attack targeting the prince on his birthday.

As duke and duchess, some day perhaps king and queen, William and Kate will never be asked to rule a duchy, far less a kingdom. Neither they nor Harry will ever sit in judgment or cast deciding votes or send people to the Tower of London or have them hanged, drawn and quartered. They won’t order the invasion of countries or the murder of rival princes, or do any of the things that were once in the job description of monarchs. Their only task, and one for which they are handsomely paid, is to be in the public eye, to court publicity, to be on display.

They are the kind of celebrities who are celebrated for being celebrities. They aren’t actors, artists, or musicians. They aren’t politicians or great thinkers or brilliant writers. They are reasonably good-looking and have nice manners and well-known parents. Those and a tough hide are all they require for the job.

People like celebrities. They like to know about them. Many people like to see celebrities’ breasts. For some celebrities showing off your bared breasts is part of the job. For others, and in this group I include future queens, it is not yet considered de rigueur. They’re supposed to tell you that in princess school. They’re also supposed to remind you that the telephoto lens has been in use since long before you were born.

These are trivial matters. Anyone who cares that a pretty young woman was photographed sunbathing needs to find something new to care about, including the young woman herself, and all who serve her. People who make a living by courting attention must be prepared to be the object of attention, even when it’s intrusive. Surely William and Harry’s celebrated mother proved that playing with fame one day and running from it the next can quickly turn from trivial to tragic.

When the Taliban attacked Prince Harry’s base the prince was moved to a secure location and kept under guard. The British military has announced it has no intention of sending Captain Wales home, because that would be a capitulation to the terrorists. This is dangerous nonsense. Whatever his value as a helicopter co-pilot, Harry can’t possibly be a net asset to the military. He is a bomb magnet and a danger to his comrades and time and energy must be devoted to protecting him during combat.

Send him home. Let him put on his suit, pack his Bermuda shorts, gather his entourage and get on with his real job, which is to cut ribbons, be photographed, party hardy, and give people something to talk about. If we can’t be rid of these silly royals, let them not endanger others. Let them get on with being what they are: famous for being famous, and nothing more.

Al Pope won the Ma Murray Award for Best Columnist in B.C./Yukon in 2010 and 2002.

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