‘Courtiers’, by Valentine Low

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Queen Elizabeth II left this world, she left the palace door open from upstairs and downstairs. And it’s not a Downtown Abby because it’s not a palace, and we are talking about King, Queen’s Consort, Prince and Princess, Duke and Dutches, and the people who serve them of all levels. Indeed, the Royals do not manage their affairs without their helpers. This is a book about those helpers, especially the upper ranks called “Courtiers,” who have existed since the days of yore. Glamorous and fanciful as they may sound, the courtiers are the royal equivalent of assistants and secretaries in bureaucratic and industrial organizations. This book is about these helpers who deserve to be cast spotlights for their physical and mental hard work.

Working with the royals, as it were, is not much different from working with lawyers or any corporate heads or any paying masters who are at the helm of your livelihood in the real world. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of your bosses for fear of rage-firing or losing their favor for your financial security, which will affect your and your family’s welfare. When I learned that King Charles III sacked his long-term employees in Clarance House who had been loyal in their service to him and his family before the coronation, I was immediately on the side of the forlorn subjects whose lives were now upended with the loss of their steady income. Indeed, some of them might have received compensation that would give them enough not to worry about their future. Still, losing a job is undoubtedly a blow to mental equanimity, let alone material necessities. According to the narrative, the royal temper is a legacy of Elizabeth I to his son Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Harry is notorious for his tempestuous tendencies that have made the courtiers disaffected and displeased with the person. His precarious and unpredictable behaviors and inconsiderate remarks towards people who assist him contribute to the criticism of his wife Megan, who is also infamous for arrogant and unthoughtful deportment. The couple might have won the public’s sympathy, not in the least thanks to the power of Oprah, who took them under her aegis against the racist royal family and the British general, who discriminated against Megan for her being “exotic.” Stephen King once said that if you want to know what kind of person they are, you must go backstage with them. I am not hell-bent on slandering the duke and dutchess. Still, it will be an injustice, discrimination even, to forego or ignore what the courtiers witness and think about the famous glittering couple who has become one of the most scintillating Tinsletown couples in the world.

It seems to me that this book wants to give a fair chance to the people who rendered their services to these whimsical and capricious royal families, given that the courtiers have become targets of criticism for discrimination against Harry and Megan. Charles’s infamous temper is comparingly forgivable because that’s what kings and queens have been like, as it is their blood-blood characteristic. But Harry is a proud prince who champions equality on the one hand and hypocrisy on the other hand. If he really cares about his wife’s privacy and respectful treatment against racial discrimination that the couple so always clamoursuly voices about, then they should also equally care about those of the people who work for and under them, no matter how different opinions they may have. People who believe Harry and Megan deserve sympathy should look closely around them because there should be those who really deserve sympathy and understanding in situations far worse than the rich and famous duke and dutchess. In light of the above, I like reading this book that draws the curtains behind the royal stages where the courtiers busy themselves pleasing the spoiled royals. By the way, Princes William and Harry lounge around the palace in flip-flops and treat their guests or interview their employees at interviews to tea in a nondescript mug, not a royal china teacup.

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Why she lost

The case of Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard has gone viral on social media platforms since the trial began a few weeks ago, Amber Heard could have been quickly on the winner’s circle. She must have believed that it was all over but the shouting that the goddess of victory was on her side. Yet, it appears to be anything but, and she has become some modern-day Jezebel.

The current defamation trial brought by Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard has been broadcast live, which I became strangely attracted to. Perhaps, it’s the biggest and most sensational court drama since the OJ Simpson case was also broadcast live. Or perhaps, it’s about Johnny Depp. His bohemian image and matching film characters render him uber-cool and unassuming compared to his Hollywood peers, creating halo effects of being likable and honest. When I read the comments about the trial on Youtube, I was surprised by the social dynamics of praising Depp to the detriment of Amber, who has no friends from any gender. The defendant is alone in this battle, forsaken by her community of actors and actresses, and she is not sorry. Her confident demeanor is translated to be arrogant, cold, and irritated. Sometimes, she looks bored and drawn, as if she knows that she will lose the case. And you know what? In the witness box, Heard didn’t even act convincingly that she was a victim of the alleged domestic violence because her expressions transpired a lack of emotional delivery. If she trusted her beauty to excel her peers as the most sought-after actress, then she should learn that Marlyn Moroe was wise enough to know that beauty was a fad and that she took an acting course and an English literature course at night.

I opine that the reason Heard is losing is her personality, she is conspicuous in all she looks and she acts. Apart from the truth, Heard fails to gain favorable votes from the general public that she has proudly overlooked because of those disgraceful acts that flow from her words and actions. Shakespeare, who himself was also an actor, knew about the world of Tinsletown Beauties thus: “All that glitters is not gold.” Now I know it.

ages of man

No matter how many leaves have fallen from a tree as the wind of changes has been blown – sometimes placidly and many times harshly – I still feel like a girl who has refused to enter into adulthood, shunning away from the nature of things. Cicero said the ages of man have their stages of nature with sovereign rights, so anything you fly in the face of them will ask for troubles. But then Cleopatra declared to reject the forces of mortality, and Shakespeare thus praised her courage and fortitude by saying: “Age cannot wither away, nor customs can stale her infinite varieties.” Oh, and there is also Cher, now rightly revered as a dame of celebrity, and she has recently decried acknowledging her age on our evolutionary scale. So why not me with my consistent resistance against the fate of a mortal in all aspects with all my might, with all my soul, and with all my heart?

It’s not only the inevitable awareness of the passing of generations by me. With the recent death of Sidney Poitier, the eminent actor famous for his unforgettably charismatic roles in ‘In the Heat of the Night’ and ‘To Sir with Love, it has begun to dawn on me that those who lived through WW2 and pre and post Second Vatican Council are now gone with the wind to the haze of time, a new breed of generations has germinated, sprouted, and dispersed across the lands and oceans, just as mammals began to stage after the extinction of dinosaurs. It’s a nature of the universe, but still hard to accept it, especially when everything else but I change, or seems it so. The difference between the millennials and the Me generation seems as far and wide as that between the Victorians and the Flappers, so to speak. Less than 50 years must have felt a great leap of 100 years to the opposite generations, I gather. But that’s not hyperbole, I believe.

Greek gods knew too well about such a human yearning to be agrasia and played the weakness in favor of their everlasting egoism. Otherwise, why did they keep nectar made with ambrosia to themselves on the Mount of Olympus? Demeter, the goddess of harvest and corn, put the baby of her master who took the goddess in the guise of a poor woman as her baby son’s nurse in a sacred flame on the pretext of making him ageless as a favor to the kindness of her lesser mortals. And it doesn’t end with Greek gods. Jesus never became old, preserved in his prime days of preaching travels with stylishly long hair that reminds me of a famous musician or poet. So was Mary, the mother of God. In the end, only humans stand in the audience, appreciating the agrasia beauty and immortality, comparing the presence of eternal youth to the absence of it.

What with the flow of time and what with the present state I am in now, inching toward the end of the era, is already enough to blow me away into the twilight zone, where things are unlike Alice’s Wonderland but Vincent’s Price’s Haunted House. Magic is no joke and is real for sure, but you always have to pay for what you wish for. But I think it’s a mindset that significantly impacts physical reality, which is magic turning you forever young.