I'm not a fan of the monarchy, I have to admit. Never mind all that anti-democracy crap - their greatest crime is that they are boring. If you look at the monarchs of the past, they were either wicked, mad, or the commissioners of great art, supporters of ballet, or great choral music (or even, if the rumour about Henry VIII is true, writers of a pretty tune themselves). This best this lot seem to manage is horse-racing and Elton John. I suppose I have been mildly republican, with the rider that a constitutional monarchy seems to work in practice, so I have never objected too much to the modest cost of having a Queen and a largely superfluous Royal Family.
And, of course, there are several phrases which pop into the mind which remove at an instant any thought of making Britain a proper Republic:
And, worst of all:
First Lady Cherie.
No, no, please. Take it away. Make it stop. Give me back my rather dull Queen and her modestly-entertaining husband.
Prince William, on the other hand, seems made of better stuff. For one thing, he seems to have a proper job flying helicopters, and his comrades speak well of him with a genuineness that seems unforced. He and his brother seem to have a proper sense of humour, and aren't too bothered by the PC brigade. And, best of all, he has frightened the crap out of the Establishment by riding motorbikes.
Apparently, he started riding round the royal estates on a small Yamaha trailbike, and passed his test, and then moved up to a Yamaha XT600. This alone makes me warm to him, as regular readers will know that I also have one of these and love it to bits, although I doubt if his was held together with gaffer tape and chewing gum. The boy clearly has excellent taste. For his 21st birthday he bought himself a Triumph Daytona, and then progressed through a Honda Blackbird and a Yamaha R1 to his current ride, a Ducati 1198S. None of these are bikes you would buy if you were merely concerned with projecting an image of modernity and 'dahn wiv da kids': they are all rider's bikes, and a pretty decent selection too. And then, of course, he and Harry did their 1,000-mile off-road charity ride with Enduro Africa in 2008.
And his attitude is a bit of all right, too. Apparently, when he got the Blackbird (the fastest bike on the planet at the time) the Royal Family were 'concerned', and insisted that he had a 'suitably-trained' close protection officer tailing him at all times to make sure he behaved. That was surely the job of the century for some lucky bastard. William's repsonse to the hoo-ha?
"Riding a motorbike can be dangerous, but so can lots of things really," he said. "It is a risk, but as long as you've had sufficient and thorough training, you should be okay.Amen to that.
"My father is concerned that I'm into motorbikes, but he doesn't want to keep me all wrapped up in cotton wool. It's something I'm passionate about."
A summary of William's bikes here.