11 things Prince George will never be able to do

Happy birthday, Prince George! You probably don't even know it's your birthday, but your palace handlers and their co-conspirators -- the global media -- will make sure everyone else in the world does. And who can fault them when there's all this sad, troubling stuff happening around the world.

But, listen, we've got news for you. WorldViews is not the greatest admirer of the monarchy and we figure you should learn the hard truth about being a British royal sooner rather than later: It was a lot more fun in the past. Here are a number of things you will never be able to do.

Execute irritating clerics: Henry II, one of the first great medieval English kings (though, let's be honest, he was much more French), rose to power with the ambitious priest Thomas Becket as one of his chief consiglieres. But the two eventually fell out and Becket, now the Archbishop of Canterbury, became a thorn in Henry's side. Driven to fury in 1170, the king growled in court "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" (Henry's choice adjective is also remembered in other accounts as "meddlesome" or "troublesome.") Some knights in the court perhaps took their monarch's rage too seriously, journeyed to the Canterbury Cathedral and dispatched Becket, an infamous murder that made the priest a martyr. But sorry, Prince George, WorldViews doubts your tantrums will lead to such extrajudicial actions, even if the CIA is listening.

Go join the Crusades: Oh, to be like King Richard the Lionheart, who did next to nothing for the English people but is remembered for a piety and love of country he probably never had. You, Prince George, will never be so lucky: cameras, tabloids and those plebs on social media will stalk you wherever you roam. You will never be able to escape your tiresome family, go off on the Third Crusade, chill out in Jerusalem, and sack, slaughter and plunder indiscriminately on the way. After all, your uncle barely managed to fire a gun in Afghanistan.

Bully Scotland: Your English predecessors had a long and proud tradition of massacring, subjugating and generally tormenting those restive Scots north of Hadrian's wall (and let's not even get started on those Irish). Your family, on the other hand, remain mere bystanders as Scotland now heads for a referendum later this year on the question of independence. Any overt intervention on your part would be imprudent. How boring.

Murder rival claimants to the throne: Richard III has been remembered through the ages as a scheming, gnarled, twisted ruler (though some vehemently disagree)-- a character of Shakespearean depth. You, sadly, will always be more Kardashian than Tudor or Plantagenet. And you certainly won't be able to lock up pesky relatives in the Tower of London and have them, as the legend goes, smothered to death.

Get married over and over again: Let's face it, Prince George, your family has little stomach for any more divorces (they don't seem to mind weddings, though). You probably won't be able to repeat Henry VIII's memorable feat of going through six wives--alienating one and beheading another, in the process. On the bright side, maybe historians at Oxford will never refer to you as a "horrid beast."

Change your country's religion: You also won't manage another one of Henry VIII's related accomplishments--shifting England's official religion away from Catholicism to what eventually will be described as Anglicanism in order to change wives. Your spiritual choices in life also likely won't provoke the threat of war with continental powers in Europe, lead to societal upheaval and massive bloodletting at home, or inspire any Booker Prize winning novels.

Lose America: Because you don't have it!

Fight the French: For many centuries, the thing most of your royal predecessors cared about was fighting those Gallic poofs from across the Channel. That animosity to the French has given us so many wondrous things: famous weapons, excellent plays and endlessly amusing Monty Python skits. Now, you have to pretend to be France's bosom buddy, even though those scoundrels had the nerve to do away with their own monarchy more than two hundred years ago.

Steal another nation's prized jewel: In 1850, Queen Victoria came into the possession of one of the most famous jewels in the world: the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which had for centuries belonged to the Mughal emperors of India. It was seized in a typical act of colonial appropriation, smuggled away to Britain, cut down and eventually set into the Queen Mother's Crown, which remains on display in the Tower of London. As a child viewing this gem, I asked the guards to return it to its home country (and mine). They refused to oblige but you have a chance to do what's right. I won't hold it against you if you decide, like your family has, to keep it. Indians are more likely to win prized British assets these days than the other way around.

Steal other nations: While we're talking about empire, let's just note the extent to which you don't have it anymore. The British empire, born out of brute violence and naked greed, is wrapped up in lots of myths, with your institution at the heart of it. There was a time when the British monarch was genuinely the most powerful person in the world, a figure not simply of political stature, but of ritual symbolic importance. From South Asia to Africa, whole systems of status, hierarchy and patronage were directly tied to the Crown. Lavish, endless ceremonies would be held in your honor in far-flung corners of the earth. Now, if your grandfather's experience is any model, the best you can hope for on your travels is the chance to do a silly dance or play dress up with real kings.

Be king: Fine, maybe you will be king. But, who knows, a few decades from now when your time comes, the geopolitical landscape may have radically changed. European monarchies elsewhere recognize the awkwardness of their regal entitlements when set against rising unemployment and the new mandates of austerity. Republicanism is on the march. Do you think you'll still even want to be king? Anyway, happy birthday.

 

RELATED: Prince George of Cambridge: The first year

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.
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