The Fairy-tale marriage has turned into a pumpkin

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A little ditty about Chuck and Diana,

Two British kids doin' the best that they can-a.

They never had a chance, the poor fools.

Everybody said it was a fairy-tale marriage. Well, I've read my fairy tales.

In the story books, he's riding a white horse and he's got regulation ears. He kisses her awake (did she take too many Halcion?) and they live happily ever after, despite having all those dwarfs underfoot.

Here's what they also do in the story books: They kill off the evil stepmother. In fact, that's the only kind of mother who ever shows up in fairy tales.

Not in real life.

In real life, Mom's the queen, you get the backup castle and, if you're lucky, maybe half a dozen footmen.

In real life, the dwarfs are actually working for "Inside Edition" and snap pictures of you naked in the royal hot tub.

In real life, the royal family couldn't be more dysfunctional if Joe and Enid Waldholtz (the Tom and Roseanne of American politics) married in.

So, sure, Chuck and Di never had a chance.

Let's go back to the marriage itself. Prince Charles marries Di only because she's the best looking virgin available and because Mom insists.

Di marries Charles because -- if I've got my Disney right -- what little girl doesn't dream of becoming a princess. Also, Di apparently believes that story about the frog and the prince, not to mention she thinks it might be her best chance to meet Ringo.

Soon enough, things go wrong. Not having anything else to do (what's the Prince of Wales' job -- keeping the Richard Burton scrapbook current?), the prince gets restless and shacks up with somebody named Camilla Parker-Bowles. Worse than that, he tells Ms. Parker-Bowles that his dream is to live inside her underwear. For you kids out there, this is not the kind of thing you want getting back to the wife. And it always will.

No wonder Di was bulimic. You try living in that family and see if you don't get the heaves.

I'm going to say it right here, I don't much care for royalty, once you get past Duke Ellington and Lord Byron. And, of course, James Brown, he's the king of 'em all y'all.

But I feel a little bad for Charles and Di.

And I think it's the queen's fault. This is just a guess, but I bet she's the mother-in-law from hell.

I know. You think you've got mother-in-law problems. She hates you. She calls every night at dinner time, even though you eat at different times each night. It's as if she had a heat-seeking missile telephone (soon available from Bell Atlantic).

Imagine if she were the queen of England.

Imagine if she could have one of her courtiers (have your courtier call my courtier?) ring you up and order you out of your own home/castle.

Imagine if she could have your head chopped off (it does run in the family, you know).

The queen didn't chop anybody's head off. She just decided enough was enough and big-footed her way right in the middle of things. Of course, she was a little desperate. Charles was on TV talking about his affairs; Di was on TV talking about hers. Over at Buckingham Palace, it was like all Ricki Lake, all the time.

So, the queen told Charles it was over. She told Charles to tell Di it's over. And then, just in case Charles didn't get the message, she had John Major call Di in and give her the bad, bad news.

Who says her majesty's a pretty nice gal but she doesn't have a lot to say?

This is huge news in Britain, of course, the biggest since Queen Elizabeth's uncle gave up the throne so he could marry somebody from Baltimore. Of course, it's big news. When Chuck and Di separated, it got announced on the floor of the House of Commons.

If they do get divorced, it could create a constitutional crisis, experts say. This surprises me. First of all, I don't think they even have a constitution. And in America, a country that doesn't believe in monarchy, if you don't count the Kansas City Royals, we get divorced all the time. In fact, if Bill dumped Hillary, he'd climb about 30 points in the polls.

In Britain, the problem is who gets to be the king.

Can Charles be the king, once divorced? George I was apparently divorced. Henry VIII was married more often than Larry King.

If Charles can't be the king, will the queen step aside in a few years for her grandson, Prince William, who's now 13?

That'd be an irony for you. Charles has waited his whole life to be king. But the queen, his own mother, would never, ever, ever step aside (or die) and let him be the king, even though he's as old as Mick Jagger and looks only a little better than Keith Richards.

Being a prince is just not a grown-up job.

If I were Charles, I'd demand to be known as the monarch formerly known as prince.

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