To do the job of the Poet Laureate

There was a young princess called Charlotte
Whose Poppa was soon hot to trot
Her mother said “No fair,
I’ve done the heir and a spare
Of nookie I’m afraid that’s your lot”

Well, bang goes the knighthood, eh?

73 thoughts on “To do the job of the Poet Laureate”

  1. Tim perhaps you can explain to us Americans why an other wise rational country like England would be so tied to undemocratic institution like the monarchy.

  2. Because the alternative would have been President John Prescott. This is usually regarded as a clinching argument.

    My own one, at least the one that convinces me, is that I don’t want any politician anywhere near things like pinning the Victoria Cross on someone. Yes, someone’s got to work out how to get the bins emptied and that’s politics. But the sort of venal shits that succeed in that endeavour being used as symbols of the nation and its pride in certain individuals? No, I’d much rather hand that job over to the lucky sperm club.

  3. There was a young princess called Kate,
    Who had a desirable mate,
    Then one day a snog
    Ended up in a sprog
    Who will grow up and look like bloody George III like all the rest of them do

  4. Better a crowned republic than an elective monarchy that spends its time undermining its Constitution.

  5. “Better a crowned republic than an elective monarchy that spends its time undermining its Constitution.”

    Can anybody doubt the sense of duty and loyalty of most of the previous monarchs?

    Now perform the exercise with US presidents.

    Then you may have your answer.

    I think the advantages to having an institution providing heads of state that is nominally above politics outweigh all other considerations. Charles, however, could wreck that in a moment.

  6. @dearieme at least we have a constitution vs. being at the whims of the court and the monarch (yes I know about the concept of Basic Law but it is not the same). You had the right idea with the Mangna Carta but then let the crown reassert it self. Cromwell had the right idea before he became a dictator, etc.

  7. Spot on, dearieme. For the Americans to complain about monarchy is increasingly absurd. What they have is far worse than a king.

    The great thing about the office being hereditary is that — now no-one believes in that “royal blood, appointed by God” nonsense anymore — there is simply no widespread belief that the monarch is really more deserving than the rest of us. They’re just born lucky. We get that. And, as a result, although some of us might have respect for the institution, we don’t go overboard with respect for the royals themselves. Prince Phillip is probably the most ridiculed man in the UK. And, credit to him, he seems to have a sense of humour about that.

    American Presidents, on the other hand, are treated not only like kings, but, having been through an election, like deserving kings. And, you know, obviously our lot have a security detail etc, but it is as nothing compared to the plofligate and ostentatious entourage the POTUS takes with him. When Obama visited Northern Ireland for the G8 summit (or was it G10? Whatever), he insisted that we allow US military drones to fly in our airspace as part of his “security”. One of the many points against David Cameron is that he allowed that. Frankly, I’m not convinced the British would put up with the sort of behaviour from our royals that everyone on the planet has come to expect from the American President.

    And I think it’s important to distinguish between monarchy in general and British monarchy. All the usual republican arguments against monarchy make a lot of sense — except in Britain, where we’ve somehow ended up with a weird cludged-together system that somehow works really well. You’d have to be completely mental to design something like the British constitution; if you were going to design something, you’d go for something like the American one. The British system evolved, and works. Our rights are not explicitly protected in writing the way Americans’ are, but, as far as I can see, they are at least as well protected in practice.

    I said that we should have had Jubilee banners proclaiming “WE DON’T HAVE PUTIN.” Words to live by.

  8. I will say I have to respect anyone who has bill the cat as their avatar (I do have one question though I wonder if you got the idea from my avatar else where… ack! from @sarek1024 at twitter)

  9. Aryeh,

    > at least we have a constitution

    So do we.

    > vs. being at the whims of the court

    Sounds like America to me.

    > and the monarch

    Are you on crack? In what way is anyone in the UK ever at the whim of the monarch? Give an example from the last hundred years.

    Pretty easy to find examples of people suffering at the whim of the POTUS, though. Fat lot of fucking good the Constitution did Basseley Nakoula. See, the great thing about the monarch is that they have no incentive whatsoever to abuse their office. But God protect you if you become inconvenient to the President.


    Yeah, Charlie’s a problem. But hey, maybe we could do with the occasional constitutional crisis. Reminds both the people and the monarch where we all stand. One a century seems about right.

  10. Maybe Tim could crowdsource the business of getting his pomes to scan. I’ll start:.

    There was a young princess called Charlotte
    Whose Poppa was soon hot to trot
    But Mum said “Hang on there!
    You’ve an heir and a spare,
    So back off- nookie-wise you’ve had your lot.”

  11. @Square Two
    > We (England) have a Constitution

    Taking a fast read of the Wikipedia article on English Law ( I see no direct mention of it (not even Basic Law).

    > Not at the whim of the courts

    From that same article:

    “The essence of English common law is that it is made by judges sitting in courts, applying legal precedent (stare decisis) to the facts before them. A decision of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the highest civil appeal court of the United Kingdom, is binding on every other court. For example, murder is a common law crime rather than one established by an Act of Parliament. Common law can be amended or repealed by Parliament; murder, for example, now carries a mandatory life sentence rather than the death penalty.”

    Side point the fact that your law would even allow Scotland and Wales to consider independence is flaw in the concept of a single nation state (the non-Jewish part of my family is Scottish)

    > or the whim of the Monarch (give an example from the last 100 years)

    Even though not direct “whim” you can still be a lucky person and get pardoned for example Alan Turing was (I think WWII is more recent then 100 years ago).

    > The queen is above politics

    Mostly true but there are rare cases where she is not

    > POTUS is above the law

    One word: Watergate

    > Bill the cat

    1. Your version is too tamed
    2. How do I get my avatar added to my posts? Let the other readers decide who has the better version

  12. “> POTUS is above the law

    One word: Watergate”

    Perhaps a slight precistion: a Dem POTUS is above the law.

  13. So Much for Subtlety

    Aryeh Friedman – “Side point the fact that your law would even allow Scotland and Wales to consider independence is flaw in the concept of a single nation state (the non-Jewish part of my family is Scottish)”

    I would wonder what the appropriate response would be if the Scottish or Welsh considered independence. Burn Atlanta to the ground presumably. But I don’t think it is worth wondering – Aryeh, old chap, don’t take this the wrong way, but f*ck off. Stop trolling. We don’t care. Just f**k off, OK?

    The fact that the US has managed to make a Presidential system work doesn’t mean Evita Peron isn’t a more typical example. Or in fact America’s future. While monarchies are by and large nice places to live. Japan is nicer than North Korea. Or China. Sweden more so than Germany since 1919. Etc etc.

    So just go away and find somewhere else to troll.

  14. @Ian

    Proof of what Franklin said outside the Constitutional convention. If it does become that it is no one’s fault but our own and why I am not voting for either Hillary or Jeb even though I like the Bush’s in general.

  15. “@dearieme at least we have a constitution”: but every country has a constitution – it’s in the nature of things, just as everyone has an accent. It’s unavoidable. What you have is, in addition, a Constitution, a failed intellectual experiment to reduce a constitution to a single, short, hard-to-amend document. I’m rather an admirer of it, but it plain hasn’t worked. No group of people has foresight enough to design such a constitution in a way that will serve a country for generations.

    That’s one reason why it’s ignored so much – it’s incompatible with reality. Really you should read Hayek on the distinction between the results of human design and human action.

    The other main reason it’s ignored is that it places unwelcome constraints on the power of politicians and judges; they get off with abusing it because the electorate doesn’t give a hoot. They pay lip service, but they don’t really care. It’s become a totem, and an excuse to write remunerative hagiographies of the Founding Fathers.

  16. > Taking a fast read of the Wikipedia article on English Law I see no direct mention of it

    Gosh. Yet we still have one. How do you think we had a constitutional crisis without a constitution?

    > Not at the whim of the courts

    You’re quoting yourself here, for some reason, then replying to it. To be clear: I certainly didn’t say stuff doesn’t happen at the whim of the courts in the UK. It obviously does. What I find baffling is the idea that this constitutes some sort of difference between the UK and the USA. In what way? At least our courts’ whims are quicker. How long has Mark Steyn been waiting to have the First Amendment upheld now? Four years? Five?

    > the fact that your law would even allow Scotland and Wales to consider independence is flaw in the concept of a single nation state

    The fact that American law does not allow states to secede is a flaw in the concept of democratic self-governance.

    We went to war to protect the Falklands because the people there want to be part of Britain. But, if they ever opted to leave, we’d let them go, no question. Whereas you guys are proud of the hundreds of thousands you killed to prevent states choosing independence, even though choosing independence was the foundation of your country.

    > Even though not direct “whim” you can still be a lucky person and get pardoned for example Alan Turing was

    OK, you really don’t understand Britain. A royal pardon is issued by the monarch, but not instigated by the monarch. It’s her job to issue the pardon. The decision of who or whether to pardon is emphatically not hers; it is the Government’s. No-one can infer anything from Turing’s pardon about the Queen’s opinion of Turing. For all we know, she thinks he should have been burned at the stake. In which case, when the Prime Minister asked her to pardon him, she would have gritted her teeth, kept her damn opinion to herself, and pardoned him. That’s her job.

    > Mostly true but there are rare cases where she is not

    What absolute bollocks. That quote from the Queen about the Scottish Referendum in full: “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future.” And that in a private conversation with one person. Even The Guardian, who were clearly dying to find fault with her, couldn’t.

    Yes, the No side leapt on that as indicating support for their cause. They were opportunistically lying; that’s what politicians do.

    > One word: Watergate

    Oh, get over it. It’s the exception that proves the rule. The one single case where the POTUS was actually held properly to account, and it was half a century ago. Your Presidents have done far worse than Nixon since, and all got off Scot free.

    Here’s another word: Chappaquiddick. And he wasn’t even the President, just a relative. Being part of the family is enough to get you off the hook. You know, like an old-fashioned monarchy, of the type they have on mainland Europe but we haven’t had in the UK for centuries. If one of our royals killed their mistress — or, charitably, knowingly let their mistress die — you think that would be shrugged off? The Queen’s sister used to get done for drunk driving.

  17. If one of our royals killed their mistress …”: at last. someone who shares my assumption that Teddy probably murdered her.

  18. The Meissen Bison

    now with added scansion (though it’s still rubbish):
    There was a young princess called Charlotte
    Whose Dad’s idle loins were a bit hot
    Quoth Mum: “Hang on there!
    You’ve an heir and a spare,
    Sadly, nookie-wise you’ve had your lot.”

  19. Even if Ted’s own account is true, whilst it may not legally be murder, it’s still killing.

    I’d like to see someone not related to a President or governor or senator do that and get off with that sentence, though. But hey, sure, the Americans can keep congratulating themselves that they don’t suffer from the cruel and capricious whims of the iron-fisted Elizabeth II.

  20. Sam Adams the Dog

    @friedman: Because it’s so much fun!

    @worstall: Suggest “mum” in place of “mother”. It scans better.

  21. dearieme:

    Me too.

    I also think Charles Dickens is prime suspect for the murder of Eliza Grimwood.

  22. There was a princess called Charlotte
    Whose Poppa was soon hot to trot
    Her mum said “No fair,
    I’ve done heir, and a spare!
    Of nookie I’m ‘fraid that’s your lot”

  23. @ Aryeh Friedman
    “perhaps you can explain to us Americans why an other wise rational country like England would be so tied to undemocratic institution like the monarchy.”
    *Because* we are rational and it works a damn site better that your “democracy”
    You don’t object to a neutral referee In a boxing ring, do you?
    Her Majesty has no incentive to rip off the country’s wealth and stash it away in Zurich or Vaduz (where the “guest workers” are Swiss, thanks to brilliance of the Lichtenstein monarchy who managed to secede from Austria between the wars, partly because Lichtenstein was so poor that Price Franz was subsidising it from the revenue from his estates in Czechoslovakia and Austria didn’t care) – in contrast many presidents steal billions and thereby impoverish all except their cronies. Most of the best countries to live in are monarchies – Britain, Canada and most of the Commonwealth, Denmark, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden; Lesotho and Swaziland are preferable to anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa – and Thailand is second best, after Singapore, in South-East Asia, even the Arab monarchies (particularly Jordan) are far preferable to the Arab republics.
    The corruption in American republics brought you Castro and the Sandanistas, whereas there is far less corruption in monarchies: that in Europe is overwhelmingly in Mediterranean-bordering republics and ex-Communist states.

  24. john77

    You are joking, aren’t you? Thailand? Spain? Prince Andrew? Fucking Lichtenstein? Monaco?? Saudi Arabia? all the rest?

    I can’t be bothered to google how utterly wrong you are.

    Unaccountable embezzlers, all.

  25. there was a privileged tosser
    that wed a privileged tosser
    they gawked at the public
    their dribbling subjects
    what a bunch of fucking tossers

  26. Arnald was a young man
    A dickless weed was he
    But every day he drank a can
    Of leftist poisoned tee

    They say that ghostly millions swirled around his bed
    All those murdered millions by socialism dead

    Arnald was a young man
    A crawling worm of slime
    A living breathing agent
    Of marxialistic crime

  27. @ Arnald
    You are very very welcome to emigrate to the republic of your choice, but if you prefer Cambodia or Vietnam or Greece or Albania or anywhere to Monaco and Liechenstein or Syria or Iraq or Chechyna or …
    And Prince Andrew is far preferable to Brezhnev or Putin or any of your pals even though Charles had to marry Diana in order to ensure that Andrew could not become King.

  28. Orders-In-Council?

    enough to overturn High Court rulings.

    And who, young Arnald, do you believe constitutes this Council of which you speak? It would be Her Majesty’s Privy Council. To which the members are summoned, not by Her Majesty, but by the Prime Minister.

    This is the way that the Royal Prerogative is exercised, as noted above, by “The Queen-in-Council” (i.e. by a bunch of politicians), not by the Queen. Currently, it is run by Nick Clegg. Although almost certainly not from Friday.

    But don’t let facts confuse you. Lefty hysteria is much more becoming.

  29. Bloke in Costa Rica

    My feelings: the happiness that a lot of people feel about a nice young couple having a second baby is, on the face of it, a bit irrational. It is, after all, something that happens all the time and while generally to be welcomed, not an event that on the face of it merits so much hoopla. There aren’t any issues of dynastic sudcession etc.. However, the people making dyspeptic noises about the false consciousness of the lower orders in being all “cor, in’ she luvly?” when they should be grimly muttering republican imprecations against rank and privilege are precisely the sort of people who would profit mightily from being repeatedly kicked in the balls.

    How about a double dactyl?

    Daily Mail ecstasy:
    Catherine Middleton
    Reincarnation of
    Dead Lady Di

    Sat on her haunches and
    Popped out a second sprog
    Plebs waving Union Flags
    Make Arnald cry

  30. @Arnald: May 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    erm, Orders-In-Council?

    enough to overturn High Court rulings.

    Correct, excepting one teensy point… The “Council” in question is the Privy Council which is made up of senior politicians, normally Ministers. They make the decision, it is merely a matter of history that it is issued under the Royal Prerogative. It’s not something the Monarch can issue on a whim – or any other way. And yes, it overrides the courts as Parliament is sovereign.

  31. Mark Steyn, putting it succinctly:

    They spent $70 million dollars on travel at the Clinton Foundation. By comparison, the entire Royal Family, to fly between their various realms – the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, that’s a lot of air miles – the entire Royal Family in one year spent $7 million dollars.


    the one advantage of a real monarchy … is that it comes in-built with a certain amount of chippiness.

  32. So Much for Subtlety

    Arnald – “You are joking, aren’t you? Thailand?”

    Thailand is bordered by Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Which of those countries is better to live in than Thailand? Malaysia perhaps. Also a monarchy. How is Burma doing these days? Cambodia?


    Spain now with its King or Spain with Franco? Tough call.

    “Prince Andrew?”

    At least he has not killed anyone.

    “Saudi Arabia? all the rest?”

    Saudi Arabia is in a tough neighbourhood but Saudi and the other Gulf monarchies are better than their republican neighbours like Syria or Iraq.

  33. So Much for Subtlety

    Squander Two – “Even if Ted’s own account is true, whilst it may not legally be murder, it’s still killing.”

    She did not drown. She suffocated. She was alive for some time under the water. Ted did not care. If ever there was a poster child for depraved indifference Teddy Kennedy is it.

    Still, did David Lloyd George have someone killed? Victor Grayson alleged that Lloyd George was selling honours through his general fixer Maundy Gregory. Grayson kept mentioning it in public and threatened to tell all. Grayson was last seen going into a house owned by Gregory. No one ever found a body.

    They just don’t make political scandals like that any more.

  34. So Much for Subtlety

    Aryeh Friedman – “I have decided to stay out this so I don’t restart the War of 1812 …. God save the Constitution! (forget the Queen)”

    I have never understood how anyone could call that war a draw. I mean we got to burn Washington and they got to keep Louisiana. Strike that one up to the Empire.

  35. So Much for Subtlety

    Aryeh Friedman – “By that argument we should of let London burn in the Blitz”

    Now that is much better trolling. You can always get a good argument going by talking about World War Two. People love the Nazis. I blame Hugo Boss.

    For the record, the Blitz ran from 7 September 1940 to 21 May 1941. See why it is such a great troll?

  36. Philip Scott Thomas

    @Ian B

    re: your effort at 09.27:

    There was a young man from Milan
    Whose limericks never would scan.
    When asked why this was
    He said, “It’s because
    I always seem to try to stuff as many syllables into the last line as I can.”

    Just sayin’, like. 🙂

  37. “By that argument we should of let London burn in the Blitz”

    Yes. Good thing all those overpaid American firefighters were there in London in 1940-1941.

  38. Philip Scott Thomas

    @Aryeh Friedman

    By that argument we should of let London burn in the Blitz

    Yet you would of starved if it was not for lend-lease

    “Should of”? “Would of”?

    Christ, that’s not even literate.

  39. Re “Would-of-gate”

    Generally I believe in description not prescription, but I can’t think of a way to make “would of” scan properly unless we accepted “of” as a rare alternative spelling of “have”…

  40. “Yet you would of starved if it was not for lend-lease”

    No, without Lend-Lease there’s no Second Front.

    This means that the cone of plausibility is broadly bounded by one extreme of the Red Army liberating their way to the Atlantic coast, while at the other end the Eastern Front grinds slowly and bloodily westwards, both sides running out of manpower and resources (yes, even the Russians), until in 1948ish an Avro Lincoln drops the first gift of twenty kilotons of instant sunshine on a suitable German target.

    Mechanised warfare needs oil, rubber and manpower, and Germany was critically short of all three. The US entering the war – not that they had a tremendous amount of choice – made victory quicker and cheaper, but Nazi Germany was doomed from the point that they chose to fight the USSR with the British Empire still blockading their ports.

    There’s a widely-quoted saying that’s remarkably hard to find an original attribution for – “amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics” – but it summarises nicely the way the Wehrmacht could keep winning battles and still be catastrophically defeated. North Africa’s a wonderful example – seriously, what was the point? Pause to reflect that Barbarossa ground to a halt in late 1941 for a desperate lack of motor transport, while at the same time that “lout of a Rommel” had tied up – and mostly lost – about a fifth of the Heer’s trucks in his hopeless lunges for Alexandria.

  41. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Note to Aryeh Friedman: scansion is the act of analysing a line of poetry or prose to extract the meter. The text is decomposed into metrical feet (not to be confused with metric feet, which are 30.48 cm) such as trochees, anapaests and choriambs. You can be forgiven for not knowing this, but not for assuming that none of us knows what he’s talking about.

  42. “both sides running out of manpower and resources (yes, even the Russians), ”

    Well, yes, the Russians were astonishingly wasteful of human life. A preference for bloody full-frontal assaults (which seemed to be fetishised by Stalin) combined with a prohibition on any tactical flexibility (can’t let the young officers make any decisions) would have led to a manpower shortage not long after the end of the war.

    And then Stalin had the gall to use the high body count on his side to extract political concessions from the Western allies, when a large portion of the body count was his fault!

  43. Jason, the point was if it wasn’t for the sudden stroke of “luck” (and awfully hard luck at the same time) of Gott being shot down on the way back to take command in Egypt which led to Montgomery being appointed in the nick of time, Rommel would have taken Alexandria and then basically mopped up the Middle East through to Iran.

    The original defence plan pre Montgomery was so weirdly defeatist that one can’t easily imagine anything other than another complete fuck-up and Rommel basically rounding them up from the South.

    That was probably more valuable than any other result.

  44. Zhukov is generally recognised to have been an excellent general. He had greater flexibility to heap up bodies than Western generals did, but also there were not any low body count ways to fight (and win) on much of the Eastern front.

    The Soviets were in total disarray initially, but their later campaigns were pretty impressive stuff.

  45. Ed Snack,

    Unless Rommel found a way to run his vehicles on sand and turn camel dung into ammunition, he wasn’t going to get to Alexandria: the overhead involved in his supplies having to be crated up in Naples, shipped across the Mediterranean (avoiding the friendly inspection of the RAF and the Royal Navy), unloading in Benghazi or Tripoli… and then being hauled 700 miles (Tripoli) or 1,400 miles (Benghazi) on the indifferent coastal roads to the front lines.

    Better analysts than I have gone over this in detail – there’s a good summary and pointers to some of the experts like van Creveld at – but there’s just no credible way apparent for Rommel to get enough reinforcements, fuel, ammunition, food and spare parts up to Alamein to achieve a decisive result.

  46. Aryeh,

    > What where people saying about the British system being more civilized then the American one

    Absolutely nothing. That, right there, was the first time anyone here mentioned civilisation.

    I think everyone just said that the British system works, that the American Constitution was a great idea but hasn’t turned out to be politician-proof, that your presidents abuse more power than our monarchs ever could, and that the weird ideas you Yanks have about us being trampled under the boot of a tyrannical monarch are absolute bollocks. Nothing about being more civilised.

  47. Ian,

    > Zhukov is generally recognised to have been an excellent general.

    Yes, and Zhukov criticised the rest of the Russian leadership for being appallingly wasteful of their men’s lives.

  48. Bloke in Germany

    There was a young princess called Lotty
    Whose daddy was missing his totty
    But “oh no”, said her mum
    “I don’t want no more cum
    “Now fuck off and empty the potty!

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