Royal Leadfoot

Nov. 16 - Every once in a while I manage to forget that Denmark's a kingdom. No sooner do I forget, though, then reality comes crashing back with the explosion of some new royal episode.

The current episode has to do with Prince Joachim having been caught speeding along the highway between Copenhagen and Elsinore on Saturday night.

Highway patrolmen recorded footage of the prince, who races cars in his spare time, hurtling down the motorway at speeds of up to 160-170 kmh [about 100 mph]. Joachim's two young sons, Nikolai and Felix, were reportedly in the car with their father at the time.

This is the stuff of headlines in Denmark, and invariably triggers a bit of constitutional wrangling. Here, for example, is the director of the Council for Greater Traffic Safety (not yet a Constitutional department, I don't think, but just give them a few years):

When famous people like Prince Joachim speed, there's no end to the public indignation And when the public experiences this kind of righteous indignation a couple of times, it gives people more reasonable boundaries for what's appropriate. In the long run, it leads to a better traffic culture.

What's a socialist constitutional democracy to do? Well, it depends. On the one hand, you could alter the constitution to allow royals to be prosecuted. On the other hand, you could let his mommy punish him. There's political support for both schools of thought. Seriously:

The center-left Radical Liberals support an amendment to the Danish constitution, allowing members of the Royal Family to be prosecuted. Meanwhile, the resolutely pro-royal Danish People's Party supports leaving Joachim to the disciplinary devices of his mother, Queen Margrethe, and says the spate of bad press following Saturday's speeding incident is punishment enough.

Where was the Danish People's Party when I needed them in my own turbulent years? Or does the queen have special punitive powers I'm not aware of?

The Danish People's Party spokesman makes it sound as though the latter may be true: "The worst sanction he can come up against is bad press — and making his mother angry."

The Radical Liberal "justice spokeswoman" has a different perspective:

"We have an extremely antiquated constitution in this country that more or less acquits members of the Royal Family from any legal responsibility whatsoever. This should be changed — and if Prince Joachim has driven recklessly, then he ought to be prosecuted."

Every republican synapse in my skull wants to see every monarchy in the world dissolved, but I don't think half-measures are going to do it. If you make royals liable to prosecution but leave them their crowns and thrones and castles, you're just going to make them targets for frivolous prosecution. You've either got to keep them up on that pedestal or knock them down completely. What's that line about shooting at kings?

But I have to love a country in which one man driving one car too fast one evening provokes a constitutional debate.

* * *

Molli's been laughing more and more, and on Saturday she had her first full-blown fit of hysterical laughter. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I post the following photograph with no justification beyond paternal pride.

I haven't been writing nearly enough about Molli lately. That'll need to change.

* * *

Tiberius Claudius Nero was born on November 16, 42 BC. He was the Emperor of Rome from 14 to 37 AD. He was not the Nero who fiddled while Rome burned. (Nor did he riddle while foam burned.) John the Baptist and Jesus were put to death during his reign, as well as many whose deaths didn't result in Religion.

Today is the birthday of Lisa Bonet (1967), Dwight Gooden (1964), Daws Butler (1916), Burgess Meredith (1908), George S. Kaufman (1889), W.C. Handy (1873), and old Tiberius, as mentioned above.

It's Flag Day in Benin, Rebirth Day in Estonia, and Gustavus Adolphus Death Day in Sweden.

Happy Tuesday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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