“Throne is only a bench covered with velvet.” Napoleon Bonaparte
It is common knowledge, accepted in the most sophisticated scientific circles that there are basically two kinds of people in this world. For example, there’s one kind who salt their fried eggs before they pepper it and the other kind who pepper their sunny-side-up-s before they lay on the salt. Naturally, both kinds will grimly aver that theirs is the nobler path, the loftier goal, the yummier ovum etc., etc. and that is how wars began. I mean, anyone who thinks that the cause of First battle of Panipat was anything other than the fact that Ibrahim Lodhi wanted to call them golgappas but Babar insisted on panipuri doesn’t know history from a hole in the ground… Or a hole in the panipuri, for that matter.
But that’s a whole other kettle of fish which we don’t want to peek into right now. Or a whole other can of worms that we don’t want to open either. And that’s one more kind of two kinds of people – those who keep their fish in kettles and those who like their worms in cans. In fact, if truth be told, there are many, many kinds of two-kinds-of-people - at last count, 134 more than number of fruit flies in Bhendi Bazar. But once again, that’s a place that we won’t visit right now because it is a matter of such Brobdingnagian complexity that it is known to cause water on the brain, tomato soup in the kidneys and a tendency to run stark naked up and down Churchgate station while reciting the Encyclopedia Britannica backwards.
Anyway, today, I’d like to bring to your notice one particular set of two-kinds-of-people.
One kind break out in a virulent, violet rash at the mere mention of king, queen, crown, count, duchess, maharajah, marchioness, sultan...you get my drift. The other kind are those who will without so much as a second thought or the slightest qualm, ecstatically cough up one million pounds to own the Kleenex that once almost wiped Princess Diana’s…er nose. (No need to snigger because I’ll have you know that blood has been split to own the single, short - and might I add not blond- hair that was once found on the toilet seat in Di’s bathroom.)
So, naturally, the question that is gently sloshing around in our heads like a fly in tepid bee is - why?
What I mean to say is why do some people have this eternal fascination with royalty? Why so they crave to know which bikini line the Duchess of Glugsburpsburg prefers – the full Brazilian or the Brazilian Butterfly? (I’ll leave you to figure out what those are.) Or why they prefer collecting pieces of doggy-poop that almost got squished by the Maharajah of Munsilivakkam’s shoes to sex? Or think that it is a far, far better thing to have died trying to get the autographed knickers of the personal eunuch of the 16th concubine of the Nawab of Tikitumgarh than for their country?
Well, nobody really knows and I can speak only for myself....
Now I’m not amongst those who will rush to wash my hair in camel’s urine because the Begum of Bhayankarbhoothamgarh does. But, I’ll have to admit that I’m kinda partial to royalty.
For many reasons.
For one, I am from Mysore where if you throw a Mysore pak (we Mysoreans prefer pak to rock), you’re likely to hit a palace….or in days of yore, a member of the royal family. Our kings reigned from a golden throne that apparently once belonged to the Pandavas, which is understandable because they trace their ancestry to the same clan as Lord Krishna. So you could say that royalty is like mother’s milk to us….well, almost.
For another, I’m kinda picky about who I will allow to sweep me off my feet.
Let me explain.
It’s one of those Cinderella days. Life and hair suck and the hips are not just wall-to-wall but resemble the saggy sofa in the drawing room.
I quickly shut my eyes and imagine my now 36”-tight, toned, encased-in-a-stunning-Vera-Wang gluteus maximus (bottom to you), on which rests the hand of the Most Gorgeous Man on Earth. The clock strikes twelve. I tear away eyes, lips and aforementioned gluteus maximus from M. Gorgeous and race to parking lot where my golden Lamborighini already is turning into a pumpkin. As I drive off, I see Mr. G picking up one of my Jimmy Choo Cinderalla-series glass slippers (two sizes too big to make sure they slip off easily) and reading the phone number that Fairy Godmother so thoughtfully etched on the sole.
When he calls the next morning, who would I expect Mr. G to be?
Pav Bhaji Masala Magnate Charming?
Cinderella day No. 2. (I know. I have a lot of them) I’m all puckered up and desperately French kissing this warty, vomit-green-complexioned frog type. Who am I hoping he will turn into before I asphyxiate on his rotten-eggs-n’-unflushed toilet breath?
I think you get my drift.
Naturally, not any prince will do. For example, if it were Prince Charles, then I’d probably pass on the whole future-Queen-of-England-mumsie-of-future-King thingie and stick to the rice bran oil baron, even though you know what they say about big ears. But, all other things equal, if it was a toss up between the heir to the Walmart billions and Prince William, my choice is clear. What I mean to say is that there is something about a man who, when he talks about the family jewels, you know he is not referring to anatomical parts but to the 235 carats of diamonds studding his mama’s coronation tiara. And there’s something about a man who can trace his ancestors back 700 years even if one of them was the king’s 10th illegitimate son by his 5th mistress. (Charles II of England had 14 “official” illegitimate children - and no legitimate ones - of which the Duke of Grafton was Princess Di’s 7th great-grandfather.)
So, as far as I am concerned, we need royalty. There may be others as rich, even richer - only 10 of the world’s 946 billionaires are royalty. Others more famous - Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein may compare poorly with Shahrukh Khan on Google hits (758 versus 2.45 million) but his Royal Highness’ $4.5 billion fortune is 900 years old and includes a 400-year-old art collection that has 33 Rubens in it. And there are others definitely more beautiful or handsome – I browsed through the recent Forbes list of the Most Eligible Royals in the world and barring Prince Willie, none of them would make it through even the first round of a beauty contest.
But fairy tales are about kings and queens and we all know the Happily Ever Afters are to be spent only in royal company.
Our fascination with celebrities is as old as the hills because, somehow each glimpse of their supposedly charmed existences briefly touches our ordinariness with something extraordinary – wealth, fame, beauty, often (and preferably) served with large delicious dollops of scandal and shame. And long, long before the Aishwarya Rais and the Paris Hiltons, we got our celebrity-crazy rocks off on the fabulous world of royals.
Anyway, I have to go now because it’s another one of my Cinderella days. Cut to the Princess bedroom of my dad’s palace. I lie on the magnificent 500-year old gold fleur-de-lis encrusted bed, deep in a 100-year sleep.
Outside, a commotion at the palace gates. A royal hunting party has arrived – with my saviour who will kiss me awake. I just hope it won’t be King of Swaziland because even though he’s worth $200 million, I’m told that he has this curious habit of choosing a new bride almost every year.
From among 20,000 naked bare-breasted virgins.
Actually,, maybe I shouldn’t complain.
He’s currently at Wife No. 13 and is planning to build a palace for each one of them.