A lesson in U.K. royalty
Among the many perks of being first cousin to the queen of England: an invitation to the royal wedding.
"It's lovely news and a great thrill," said His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent. "The wonderful thing is to have some good family news in this rather gloomy economic climate. It lifts everybody up. So it's a lovely thing to look forward to."
And that was all he had to tell us about Prince William and Kate Middleton - diplomatically discreet and (as he insists, probably truthfully) all he really knows about the April nuptials.
The prince, 68, was at the British School of Washington on Wednesday on one of those official-visit-type things that keeps the queen's extended family busy. He's the grandson of King George V and nephew of two kings, Edward VIII and the queen's father, George VI. (And a dead ringer for Russian Czar Nicholas II, a cousin of his grandfather. All that intermarriage, you know.) He gave up his rights to the throne when he married a divorced Catholic in 1978 and doesn't receive a royal allowance - but does get to live in Kensington Palace and travel around the world.
Which brought him to Washington as patron for the British School, launched 11 years ago and now located adjacent to Georgetown University. The prince was guest of honor at an embassy reception Tuesday night, where the private school got a nice PR boost ("Many were aware of the school but didn't really know about it," said head teacher Peter Harding) and dined with some of the school parents Wednesday night.
Instead of a random drop-by, the prince (white beard, unruly eyebrows, bespoke pinstripe suit) spent the entire morning touring classrooms and chatting with the 300 international students about a weather project ("Some clouds are very dangerous," he noted. "These can be really nasty"), their artwork ("You know something . . . it has a passing resemblance to my dog") and otherwise giving the entire program a royal pat of approval.
"It's based on the English system, but the curriculum here is very interesting because it's managed to incorporate the British, American and European systems all in one and take the best of all three," said the prince in that flawless upper-crust accent. "This is a magical formula." The visit ended with the inevitable plaque presentation and a student theater performance.
That, people, is the life of a prince - much like a politician, with better housing.