Friday, April 29, 2011

The End of the Line

Today, the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is being celebrated and televised.

If a meteor, say, were to strike Westminster Abbey during the nuptials, or, perhaps more kindly and gently, and alien starship were to suck Buckingham Palace up during the breakfast reception, a number of those who are in the line of succession to the throne of England would be off the royal grid.

Fortunately, thanks to the sleuthing of Daniel Willis, who spent 18 years documenting the heirs and spares, and the late Bill Reitwiesner, there does exist a full list of the 4,973 folks who are in line if the big “what if” in the royal sky ever happens. Willis and Reitwiesner, both Americans, worked independently, and each came to the same conclusion. (Source for all info that didn’t come off the top of my head, unless otherwise indicated: WSJ.)

Last in line is Karin Vogel, a German therapist who works with the elderly in a Rostock hospital, helping them deal with chronic pain. She is a great-great-great, etc.  of Sophia of Hanover.

Somewhere in the way back, the British Parliament got in the act by passing the Act of Settlement, confirming that it’s up to Parliament to figure out who’s entitled.

The Act laid down that only Protestant descendants of Princess Sophia - the Electress of Hanover and granddaughter of James I - are eligible to succeed. Subsequent Acts have confirmed this. (Source: the Royal web site, a complete treasure trove, but one that, today, is likely to be – unlike the monarchy it showcases – overtaxed. Just think of all those gawkers trying to figure out whether The Lady Cosima Windsor comes before or after The Lady Sarah Chatto in the line up.)

Karin Vogel will not be at the wedding. They had to cut the list somewhere, what with the bride’s parents’ invites, and the groom’s parents invites, and the friends of the B&G, and some fellow Euro-royals, and a bit of headcount thrown to Granny just in case she wanted to invite the gals from her book club, or the folks she stalks grouse with at Balmoral Castle.

Karin Vogel won’t be watching the wedding either. She doesn’t own a TV. Now, if she were an American, she would definitely be what is known as unAmerican. But she’s a German, and it’s probably not unGerman at all not to worship at television’s altar. I’ve been to Germany a few times, and the TV’s pretty darned awful. Talk about desperately seeking the Armed Forces Network. Years ago, in the days when we didn’t yet have Internet to take with us, while on a trip to Berlin, I really felt like watching something on TV. In fact, what I really had a hankering for was a re-run of The Streets of San Francisco. I don’t know what the German is for mirabile dictu, but mirabile dictu, Die Strassen von San Francisco was, quite wondrously, playing. And keep in mind that this was well before the dawn of On Demand. So what if the episode was dubbed. It was the one where Ricky Nelson played the ex-rock star gone bad, and it was fairly easy to figure out the plot. (I can’t remember how you say, Buddy Boy in German. For those who were never hooked on Streets, that’s what Lt. Mike Stone/Karl Malden called his young partner Inspector Steve Keller/Michael Douglas.)

As for Karin Vogel’s role as one of destiny’s forgotten darlings:

Some 4,972 people would have to die for Ms. Vogel to win the crown.

As for Ms. Vogel, the end of the line is just fine.

"I can lean back and relax," she said in an interview, pleased at the very remote prospect of having to preside over 16 sovereign states anytime soon. "It is really very comforting that one doesn't have to worry about Great Britain."

Well, leaning back and relaxing, without having to worry or even think of Great Britain would be a colossal relief to anyone, I would venture.

For those of us who aren’t Protestant descendants of Sophia’s son George 1, we’re freed up to worry about our owned darned countries.

Worrying about the US of A apparently wasn’t what Dan Willis or Bill Reitwiesner were expending their fret-cycles on. Instead, they did something that’s, errrrrr, useful and came up with the royal succession list. Willis, in fact, has “all but memorized lists of descendants stored on a document in his computer.”

Man, I’m impressed.

I can just about get as far as the kiddos of Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong Jones.

Although it’s preposterously unlikely that Karin Vogel will ever be crowned and sceptered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, she may well end up moving on up through the ranks.

Parliament is considering updating the rules so that men don’t take precedence ahead of women.

Under the current procedure, if Kate Middleton and Prince William had a daughter and followed up with a son, the son, though younger, would be first in line to the throne.

Enacting this change would cause a few switcheroos, even at the top of the list, as Princess Anne and her children, who now trail not just her younger brothers, but all of their spawn. It would be down a peg for the Duke of York (a.k.a., Prince Andrew) and the Earl of Wessex (a.k.a., Prince Edward), and their offspring.

I may not have any royal blood in me, but, unlike Karin Vogel, I do have a TV.

I will not be paying that much attention to today’s wedding, however.

Too early in the morning.

Plus I don’t have a good enough hat. A Red Sox or Black Dog cap just won’t cut it.

No comments: