Those Wayward Windsors

It was helpful that the photos of the topless Duchess of York were published during the U.S. presidential campaign. After a year of watching the domestic troubles of the wayward Windsors, it finally became clear that generations of living on public subsidies have destroyed the royal family values.

The British royals are almost a textbook example of the household hurricane the Republicans are warning about. President Bush has complained about the family image created by the Simpsons, but the Windsors make the Simpsons look like the Waltons.


These people are supported on public allowances, live in public housing and haven't had a real job since the 19th century. And they're bringing up their children the same way.

No wonder they are all over the tabloids.


For one thing, like so many of the families the Republicans worry about, the British royal family is a female-headed household.

And even though Elizabeth II has a personal fortune of several billions of dollars, she receives a tax-free government allowance equivalent to $7 million a year.

This is probably what Ronald Reagan meant when he complained about welfare queens.

Elizabeth also lives rent-free in several public palaces. At least one Republican understands the significance of such living arrangements. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp last year took the queen to visit a Washington, D.C., housing project that was being sold to its tenants.

Unfortunately, she didn't take the hint. A life on public assistance apparently has destroyed her initiative entirely.

Growing up in the upper-class underclass also seems to have hurt the values of her son, Prince Charles. Along with not having a real job, Charles is the prototype of the absent father.

Like millions of other fathers who know the government will take care of their children, he drops by only occasionally to take them to a polo match.

Speaking to your children only in the company of horses is not what Republicans mean by a stable family.


Following the frequent pattern of men in such circumstances, Charles has developed a strong interest in firearms. Most of the time when he should be providing a strong father figure for his children, he is busy at drive-by shootings of grouse.

This could leave Princess Diana, who left school well before the conversation turned to algebra, as just another undereducated single mother.

Getting your picture in the papers is undoubtedly a skill, but does it really pay enough to support a family -- especially when your dependents include ladies-in-waiting?

No wonder Fergie's family values have weakened since joining this crew. She never appeared topless in newspapers before she became Duchess of York.

The Windsors may be the perfect example of what the Republicans are talking about, but it is hard to see how their

solutions -- turning the royal forests into an enterprise zone, helping the queen get a mortgage to buy Buckingham Palace, making sure the castle TV sets don't get "Murphy Brown" -- will really help this family come back.


On the other hand, Bill Clinton's solution -- job retraining for a career more future-oriented than that of monarch -- might not work either in this case.

Still, the British royals do come to Washington every so often on state visits, and this would give Republicans a chance to get them together with Pat Robertson or Marilyn Quayle for a little chat about keeping those home fires burning.

But wait, the queen did visit Washington last year. And instead of some family counseling and child-rearing hints from Arnold Schwarzenegger, she got a formal state dinner, with the capital's top Republicans fighting for invitations.

For a family-oriented administration, this is surprising.

It turns out that when the Republicans are talking about family values, everything's relative.

David Sarasohn is an associate editor at the Oregonian of Portland, Ore.