We are two part-time academics. Ellen teaches in the English department and Jim in the IT program at George Mason University.

More Spectral Emanations: _Le Monde_ and _La Repubblica_ on the Windsors · 10 April 05

My dear Fanny,

Yesterday I kept up my "researches" into how Charles Windsor and Camilla Shand Parker-Bowles, now Windsor, were constructed in the major dailies—insofar as my knowledge of language allows.

The major still respectable French newspaper, Le Monde, had a cartoon, thus supporting Linda Colley’s thesis about the invention of English identity in reverse.

At the top right hand pride of place instead of a photo (as in the London Times, New York Times, and Washington Post), was a serious story about and photo of Iraq. The writer focused on the real US role when Saddam "fell;" to the right just below, a story on the pope’s funeral with photos of said pope.

Not far down but to the left (so secondary), the cartoon image of Charles and Camilla, both with matching very long noses. Their hands are held up palm to palm (making me recall Romeo & d Juliet where they speak a loving lyical sonnet), the two faces smile broadly. The balloon out of their mouths says in unison "Enfin seuls." "Alone at last." Ironic? Not about the romance. Nearby a grim bulldog-faced woman represents Elizabeth. She has a squashed hat and her balloon says: "Hé. Je ne suis pas au vatican, moi!" "_I_ am not going to the vatican either." She’s said to have said to Charles she’d not go to the civil wedding to avoid making it a circus.

Just below the cartoon a line "Mariage sans faste à Windsor." Click. The same photo which appeared in the London Times. The reader can click on for a portfolio (as in the British paper; the New York Times had a "slide show"); and then for futher stories.

Then the story whose first sentence sets a tone of romance (not seen in the three English-language dailies I described):

"Le prince Charles à épousé, samedi, 9 avril, son amour de jeunesse, Camilla Parker Bowles, au terme d’une cérémonie sans faste [Prince Charles married, on Saturday, April 9th, the love of his youth, Camilla Parker-Bowles, in a ceremony without display [state show is more emphasized though the idea of luxury is denied here too—not so, the outfits were very expensive and all wore splendiferous hats].

Then the ages of the couple, how long the ceremony took, a description of Windsor itself, how far from London, the appearance of the two sons, with the paragraph ending with sudden sharpness "en l’absence remarqué de la reine Elizabeth II." Le Monde is determined to believe or thinks its readership wants to believe in an estrangement.

Much on the "château" they were blessed in: who was there (Prime Minister, his wife, opposition leader, Phil Collins, Kenneth Branagh .—no "commoner" women beyond "Cherie" named).

Then onto La Repubblica. This once (perhaps still) unusually left-of-center major daily attributed feelings to the couple no one in the Anglo or French newspapers I went through did. The marriage was an act of contrition it seems. The couple were acting to right a wrong.

As in Le Monde, no photo on first page. On that right-hand spot an effective picture of St Peters done from a camera angle that leads eye look up to grand columns gorgeously decorateds. Beneath, looking up (too) are a row of small figures in black, perhaps in front of a casket. In Italian the headline: Veltroni has attacked the suggestion the Pope be beatified [I translate.]

But just below and to the right (not left), the headline:

Carlo e Camilla "Perdonate i nostri peccati." Windsor, il rito civile in municipio, poi la benedizione nella cappella del castello. L’atto di contrizione per le "immoralità e depravazioni."

No other paper delivered to its readership this kind of downright religion—even if slightly tongue-in-cheek in the way the first line is done. The sinful couple is now making their peace with society and God. Is this what the paper thinks pleases its female readers? It would get a laugh from many Anglo readers, though the Post line about Camilla as Charles’s "long-time paramour" has lines which reach indirectly into ideas about sin. I imagine many a 20th century Italian woman would grimace at the line’s assumption about their lives.

Click on the above line and you get to:

Windsor, Carlo e Camilla ora sono marito e moglie [are now husband and wife]. Coronata una storia d’amore che dura da 35 anni [having crowned/perfected a story of love that lasted more than 35 years]. E dopo l’atto di contrizione davanti all’Arcivescovo [and after an act of contrition] il bagno di folla tra i sudditi [they move into the crowd]

Again a tongue-in-cheek half-ironic feel here, but clearly a Catholic familial take created—as well as romance in vein of Le Monde.

Then a photo which is different from the Anglo and French daily. La Repubblica chose a photo of the couple walking from the side and turned away from us; at this angle we see Camilla’s face looking somehow hard. Charles looks middle-aged. Not a flattering one for either of them as they march resolutely ahead rather stoutly, almost grimly.

And again the same take though this time the romance comes first and only later in the culled quotations from the "blessing" where the reader is asked to feel Charles and Camillo took seriously their lines about how sinful they are as people and applied them to their "former" lives.

WINDSOR – E finalmente il momento tanto atteso da Carlo e Camilla è giunto [And finally the moment so long waited for by Charles and Camilla has arrived/been reached]. In una Windsor senza pioggia ma gelida [in a Windsor without rain but cold] con centinaia di persone piazzate lungo le transenne già dalla prima mattina per assistere all’arrivo degli sposi, il matrimonio tra il principe di Galles e la donna amata da una vita è stato celebrato [the wedding between the prince of Wales and the lady loved for a whole life has been celebrated].

A brilliant article in the LRB a few months ago suggested that French intellectual life has become second-rate among the top people as what’s now valued is the networking social skills due to the pressure to sell and make a profit in the large marketplace. Still it’s doubtful the created identities of Le Monde would have been much different before the 70s. La Repubblica shows the problem of holding a majority of readership in a left-of-center point of view: you have to bow to strong puritan pressures by average people trying to hold their family group together however they can.

The London Times did inform us that Ann Valentine has been dressing Parker-Bowles for some years. The hat must’ve cost a mint. And she had two outfits. After all she’s as nothing as Jacqueling Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was: just as willing to be a creation of clothes.

I remember how you spent years imprisoned in the rituals of clothing the queen and in imprisoning clothes yourself, Fanny. I remember how hard it was for you to escape, your wedding, and how your father (cruel to you throughout) didn’t show.


Posted by: Ellen

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