If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Sweet William

I'm going to confess a secret liking for young Prince William. The lad seems OK.

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:

President Blair.
President Brown.
President Cameron.

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.

"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."
Amen to that.

A summary of William's bikes here.


  1. An excellent compilation of his achievements, he has an impressive c.v.

    Despite the Italian machinery & boots, and Japanese helmet, at least his BKS leathers are British.

    I wonder if Kate's ever ridden pillion?

    The Insurance 'Premium' shouldn't be too onerous because I suspect our Monarchy is 'self-insured'.

  2. Phil's 'adherence' to the PC world are worth the price of the monarchy alone IMHO.
    If William follows his grandad's lead and ignores the lunacy that is his his father he may do rather well and take even the nation out of the EU.

  3. XX I wonder if Kate's ever ridden pillion? XX

    Doubt it.

    I mean, last time I saw legs as skinny as that, one end was attached to a Heron.

    Makes it bloody awkward to ride a bike, when the knees bend the wrong way.

  4. Agreed that insurance shouldn't be a problem. Isn't it still possible to avoid the compulsory insurance rule if one can 'show' sufficient funds to back one up? Last I read of this was back in the 60s and it was 1/4m, but that would hardly cover liability for a moped these days.

    Looking at Kate (and I do whenever possible), I would imagine she was a keen participant in morocycling escapades, as well as a lot of other activities. She looks to be game for all kinds of fun.

    And, with regard to legs and - er - chests: for some of us 'less is more'. I'll leave it at that.

  5. He has a KR. Jr. helmet and has a Yamaha in his stable, that makes him allright in my book.

  6. Learned on a Yam 125 (DT or XT? the world needs to know), then had an XT600E and later an R1. He's Yamaha through and through and, as you say, that makes him OK with me. Didn't spot the KR Jr helmet, but that sort of speaks a lot as well.

  7. Love the fact that the Royals are "concerned" at their son riding a motorbike. Is this the same son that they have arranged a military career for?

    I'm a "can't be arsed republican". If asked to justify the royal family, I can't. I kind of know that I should be republican, given my other views. But they don't cost much, they probably get that back for us in tourism revenue, and they don't seem to cause much harm so I can't really muster the effort to object. Rather them than a democratically elected idiot.

    Self-insurance is possible, but requires you to apply for a court order declaring that you are entitled. The court generally requires a substantial deposit into court funds, or a bank bond. Either way, that means a few mill sitting around that you cant use.

  8. I suppose that a death in military service would be acceptable and even glorious, whereas piling a fast bike into a tree would remind people too much of a certain fast run through Paris. It's a fair point, but I think William has the right approach: get the training, get the gear, and stuff 'em.

  9. True. But think of the extra jobs that would create at the Express and the Mail...

    William has the right approach: get the training, get the gear, and stuff 'em.

    Damn right.


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