Prince Charles won't believe this, but having a job when you can live a life of leisure and ease is overrated. It really is. Trust me, Chuck, when I tell you that you haven't missed much.
However, Charles, who celebrated his 65th birthday Thursday and has been waiting 61 years to become king, feels compelled to do something "useful." "Useful" is another of those categories that is also overrated.
His mother, the queen, is 87 and shows no sign of slowing down or abdicating to give the kid a shot at the big time. And she's doing a fine job.
Charles, for all we know, entertains evil thoughts when he's standing behind her at the top of one of those endless marble stairways in the royal palace. He does, however, endlessly play at top volume John Fogerty's "Oh, put me in coach, I'm ready to play."
But for now he's content to go about his princely duties, viewing oversize vegetables at farm shows, being forced to watch exhibitions of Morris dancing and inspecting the village of Cloaca Minor's new sewage treatment plant.
His image has recovered from his divorce from the beloved Princess Diana and her subsequent death in a car crash. But Diana, whom he treated abominably, was not over blessed with brains or common sense, and died a senseless death — she would have survived had she worn her seatbelt.
After a decent interval, he married his longtime girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles, whose appearance was so cruelly ridiculed in the press that she probably thought longingly of the days of the iron maiden, red hot tongs and the lash.
Lately, there has been a campaign to lighten Charles's stuffed shirt image through such ploys — that apparently work in the United Kingdom — as having him give the weather report in Scotland ("freezing mist turning to rain").
Actress Emma Thompson said dancing with Charles "is better than sex," which probably means that there's a knighthood in her future and that Kenneth Branagh knew what he was doing when he left her.
Charles, his dalliance with Camilla aside — the couple went back years — comes across as a strait-laced straight arrow. He was busted as a youth for ordering a cherry heering when he was underage. An ideal punishment would have been to make him drink it.
Charles has basically fulfilled his princely duties. He and Princess Di guaranteed the continuation of the Windsor line by producing William and Harry, the heir and the spare, and now William and his bride, the Duchess of Cambridge, have produced further dynastic backup, giving birth this summer to Prince George Alexander Louis.
But let us not forget that through the veins of the future Charles III flows the randy blood of Charles II, who produced at least 12 illegitimate offspring — he acknowledged eight of them — by a succession of mistresses.
Not for nothing was he known as the "Merry Monarch." Maybe the current Charles isn't the stiff ribbon cutter he appears. Maybe he's biding his time.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://shns.com)