C&C Do the Colonies

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Charles and Camilla doing the colonies. And here they were, right on their former colonial shores.

Poor Camilla! Can you imagine anyone having to try to walk in the shadow of Diana, the paragon of beauty, sophistication, and youth, and look good in comparison? And especially if that someone is Camilla–now 30-plus years older than Diana was when she made her first official visit to the US?

Well, I do feel for the woman, but I am a bit baffled by the size of the entourage that surrounded her and Charles on their first official trip to the (former) colonies. In case you didn’t hear, the number of attendants was 40. No, that’s not a typo–40 attendants for two people on a week-long trip. Unemployment must be at an all-time low in England if this is any indication of how many people are needed to-dare I say it?–change a royal light bulb?

Reportedly four of these 40 were assigned exclusively to making Camilla look good. What in the world did all of these people do? I heard from a reliable source (the Today Show) that Camilla blow-dries her own hair. (How do they know that?) But, assuming that’s true, that left four people to do what? Apply her make up, iron her clothes, polish her shoes and, I suppose, her nails? Four people? And what in the world are the other 36 members of this entourage doing? I can’t imagine–or can I?

Let’s see…Camilla reportedly toted 50 outfits for the week–that means she could have changed clothes 7 times each day without repeating anything, with an extra time thrown in wherever she needed it. Perhaps votes were taken to see which outfits Camilla would wear when–and 40 was the required quorum. Must have been something like that…but 40 is an even number…what to do in case of a tie? Well, never mind all that for now.

Perhaps more realistically, several of the 40 team members were kept busy just hauling and counting clothes. The clothes must have had their own separate suite in each of the places where C&C spent the night—otherwise how would a bed and two people ever fit in around them? I suppose some of the 40 had guard duty that spanned 24/7 for the clothes alone. Probably several were employed to be sure there were no wardrobe malfunctions, à la Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl. Now wouldn’t that just have created a scandal not at all fit for a king-to-be?

And yet for all the money, time, and effort that went into all those clothes, the critics were harsh–if not ruthless, especially at first. One commentator on a national news program said after C&C’s initial appearances in New York, “She completely bombed–what we got was a mess.” Now what kind of manners were we showing our guests with comments like that?

The dreaded words “dowdy” and “frumpy,” so often used in conjunction with everyone in the royal family, except Diana and her sons, kept cropping up in the same sentence that began with “Camilla.” This seems more than a bit cruel, to say nothing of showing more of the critics’ and the media’s extremely bad manners and poor taste. How embarrassing for us. And, again, poor Camilla.

Oh my–the make-up people. Wouldn’t you just have hated to have had that job? They must have feared for their heads, but just how much can make-up artists be expected to do? Maybe those 40 attendants included replacements for those who failed at these impossible jobs and filled in the inevitable gaps that appeared as heads rolled. If people were fired at the rate at which clothes were apparently expected to be changed, only 40 attendants seemed a bit on the skimpy side.

I did notice though, that as the week–and the clothes—wore on, the media comments were less critical and less cruel. I am wondering who or what snapped them to their senses. Perhaps some of those 40 were put to good use. After all, who among us has the right to criticize anyone for how he or she looks, especially if our expectations are for every recognizable female personality to appear as glamorous, as young, and as thin as Audrey Hepburn playing Holly Golightly?

Another TV commentator quoted a columnist somewhere who reportedly wrote that if Charles and Diana were Fred and Ginger, Charles and Camilla were Fred and Ethel. I guiltily admit I laughed at that one and wished I had been the one to have thought of it, while at the same time realizing the same could be said for most of us who were 20 years younger when Diana came here as the newly wed royal on her way to being queen.

But wait a minute…isn’t all of this obsession with looks, our own and other people’s, a sign of a sickness that has pervaded our society long before the bird flu was ever heard of? It can be just as deadly–by killing spirits instead of bodies. Isn’t it the inner person that counts? Camilla seems to have bravely passed that test against all odds, considering the relentless barrage of inhumane trials the press continues to put her through. Good for her. I liked and admired Diana, and I like and admire Camilla too. Neither chose an easy path.

A 13 year-old boy at a boarding school that C&C visited while in Washington DC, when the fashion put-downs were at their peak, pronounced them both “normal people”–and that, I think, they most likely are–once you get past those 40 attendants.

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