When I was a child my mother would often scold me for my outrageous behavior. Who do you think you are? She would question me, Prince Charles?
These questions taught me two important things: Firstly, my mother didn't really expect an answer, and secondly, apparently I was not Prince Charles. This made me sad, not because of the rhetorical questions, but rather, the knowledge that I wasn't a prince.
Truthfully, as I child I didn't have the foggiest idea who Prince Charles was, but from the tone of the question I understood that this gentleman had rights that I didn't. Had I been him, my offensive acts would have been accepted and forgiven. Unfortunately, I am who I am, and that's a problem.
I recalled this existential dilemma when I came across an announcement in recent days that Prince Charles had been awarded some marginal prize - something to do with environmental issues if I'm not mistaken. The grim facial expression of Charles, who has remained a prince in his old age and who has been forced to live his life as an eternal youth – attested to the fact that even Charles is not quite a prince any more.
The opportunities presented in the excessive liberties he was granted during his youth were missed. The real princehood has been passed onto his son, Prince William, and this has left him neither here nor there - neither king nor prince, not an adult or a child – all that's left are unrequited hopes and promises. Pretty sad.
Democracy can be crueler than a monarchy. If he doesn't encounter an accident, Prince Charles will become the King of England. It's just a mater of time and good genes.
On the other hand, grandiose political promises are not necessarily realized. Just look at the "princes" of the Likud and Labor parties. The passing years did not bode well for most of them. Time and again they were passed over; there was always someone else overtaking them in the line.
In politics, time doesn't bring one closer to the desired destination; it often pushes it further away. There are those who spend their entire lives striving for power that is ultimately withheld from them, and there are those who reach it too early, without adequate preparation.
For them, the winds of hope that carried them to the pinnacle of power cease to blow all at once, and then they begin the downward slope to the depths bereft of excessive rights and expectations, where they are scolded (not only by their mothers) for daring to think they are Prince Charles.
If they seek to return to the top, they are forced to do it just as any run-of-the-mill person would – without great expectations or special privileges, without someone else paving the way for them, while being surrounded by the venomous fumes reeking of doubt and disappointment. It's tough being an aging prince.
How tough? Think of our ultimate prince, Shimon Peres. While still young and inexperienced he was taken from herding the sheep by the father of the nation and anointed the prince of Israel. At an age when most people are still in the process of feeling their way around the borders of power, he had already gained an influential status; he was a confidant, a decision-maker and he determined others' fates.
And then something went wrong. Oh, the cruel irony of fate! Again and again he hopefully eyes the illusive throne, yet time and again he climbs and stumbles from the slippery slope.
The refreshing elegance of the past has disappeared; battered and bruised, he is climbing the mountain once again, for the umpteenth time. Not much remains of the former prince, his assured taking of excessive rights; the sense that time is working in his favor. However, the sense that he would only find his true vocation in the lofty seat of the presidency serves as a powerful driver and a psychological shield against the ridicule and doubt.
Will it happen this time around? History has a cruel sense of humor. We should wait and see who it will decide to ridicule this time.