Liz Smith: Keeping Up with Julian Assange

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And more from our Liz: Doodling for charity … Elizabeth Hurley’s separation … William and Kate’s new titles

“We seek him here…we seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven or in hell?  That damned elusive Pimpernel,” wrote Baroness Ortzy.

Of course, in this case, it’s not the Frenchies who seeking him, but the Swedes and Americans. I’m speaking of the cyberleaker Julian Assange.

And I’m wondering how much longer the world will be coping with this website bad boy and we’ll all be writing about him. Will he become as famous and go down in history as the French Revolution’s fictional Scarlet Pimpernel?

* * *

The managing director of the St. Francis Food Pantries & Shelters in New York, one Joseph Sano, thanked me for the doodle I drew for his worthy charity. He tells me that my last drawing, of a donkey and elephant improbably drinking together as good friends, fetched up $500 when properly matted and framed.

He also sent me Sarah Palin’s doodle for his association, which feeds the hungry. This doodle went for $1000 for charity. When the next set of  Doodles is offered for sale, I suggest you call Mr. Sano at 212–279-6171 and try to get yourself a celebrity doodle and make a charitable contribution.

Many famous artists have doodled for Mr. Sano. As for Sarah, well, she outdrew me by half. What she concocted was a rainbow over a shining sun. (I don’t think Sarah’s rainbow had anything to do with gay rights!)

* * *

I SPENT quite a bit of time recently with my friend Elizabeth Hurley, who was in the U.S. pushing the pink ribbon fight against breast cancer as a spokesperson for Estee Lauder cosmetics. Elizabeth, naturally, didn’t say a word to me about how her three-year marriage to Indian businessman Arun Nayar was already unraveling in spite of a wedding that took place largely in public on two continents. She acted as if everything were hunky dory, including their mutually owned  400-acre farm in Cirencester Gloues, where they raise organic food and fetching lambs, piglets and the like.

Elizabeth herself Twittered this week: “It was not a great day. For the record, my husband Arun & I separated a few months ago. Our close family and friends were aware of this.” (Guess I wasn’t close enough!)

The glamorous model and actress was then reported hanging with international cricket star Shane Warne, who is divorced but has three children in Australia. (Some of the press believes this was all a Hurley P.R. stunt, but I can’t figure out who would benefit from such press.)

Her three-year wedlock where the bride sobbed throughout the wedding ceremony, caused havoc among the paparazzi? Was it worth it for Elizabeth and Arun to marry? The more I read about the brief tenure of celebrity marriages, the more I wonder why anybody bothers. I wonder especially when they have valuable community property involved.

* * *

I WAS vastly amused watching Lawrence O’Donnell, my new passion on the MSNBC scene, while he recently railed against the British royals. He kept asking his BBC expert in London why the English want to bother with a Queen, a King or the children of royal blood?

I know Lawrence likes to provoke an argument on his “The Last Word” show — but really…!  “Royalty” is big business in Great Britain, and ever has been, even when it had to do with something called “ruling.”  The fact that Buckingham Palace isn’t just a museum but actually has famous well-known royals living within its walls is money in the bank for Great Britain. Tourists love it all!

The British press can’t quite make up its mind whether it approves of the current crop of “royals” or not. Queen Elizabeth herself, on the throne since the end of World War II, seems to be above it all, but everyone else in the family – dead or alive – is fair game for a rowdy press. And the world watches with interest. Do I have to cite the goings-on that ensued over the death of Diana, the Princess of Wales? (For that was her real title, after she divorced Prince Charles. She was never actually known properly as “Princess Diana.”)

My friend Mandrake has now supplied us with a new dilemma for the Queen. And it is this: what to do about a title for Prince William and his commoner bride-to-be, Kate Middleton?

The Prince has let it be known that he’d prefer to go on being called Prince William. He would not like changing his title, as custom demands, to become either the Duke of Cambridge or the Duke of Suffolk. If he became a Duke, then Kate could easily be the Duchess. But as royal princesses are born that way, Kate could not really become “Princess Catherine” while William remains “Prince William.”

This presents a thorny question for the Queen. She might make an exception to protocol. When Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester died, the Queen gave the Duchess of Gloucester a new title as Princess Alice to reward her for years of royal service. But William is under pressure not to change the system, since everyone knows that the much-disliked Princess Michael of Kent would insist that she then become Princess Marie-Christine.

Here’s a funny P.S.: Prince Harry, William’s younger brother, was once going to accept the title the Duke of Cambridge. But he went to see “Shakespeare in Love,” which featured a character named the Earl of Wessex. Harry liked that so much, it is said, that he has asked his grandmother the Queen to eventually give that title to him.

16 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    The rules are the rules and as I recall the rules Kate Middleton will become “the” Princess Catherine the way Diana became “the” Princess Diana.  No one is quite sure apparently what will happen to the title of Prince and Princess of Wales once Charles becomes king. If he does. Still lots of rumors about whether he will or will not. He indicates he will. Rumors indicate he won’t. The problem being Camilla. He is the Prince of Wales. As opposed to “the” Prince of Wales. Camilla is not the Princess of Wales. Diana will be, even with the “the” added, until Charles dies. So it would complicate the things for Kate to become the Princess of Wales. Even though William will become the Prince of Wales when his father becomes king. If he does. Or so I was told by someone who may or may not know the rules. The rules are set by the German branch of this illustrious family by the way. People forget the House behind the House of Windsor.  As for the Dowager Duchess of Kent,  I may be wrong but I believe her title is “the” Princess Alice.  She is commonly referred to as Princess Alice. Just as Diana was commonly referred to as Princess Diana.

    Prince Michael’s wife’s title is “the” Princess Michael.  The “the” has to do with bloodline and the level of peerage and or royality involved. If you’re not of the right position within the peerage, the “the” is added. Prince Phillip was a member of the royal house of Greece so he became Prince Phillip instead of “the” Prince Phillip. Or “the” Prince Elizabeth. 

    Princess Anne of course refused any titles for her children. Some believe it may have been a prescient act on her part. Just as the hereditary peerage saw its constitutional power taken away, the monarcy may as well at some point.  

    • avatar Dianne Lopp says:

      No one is quite sure what will become of the title Prince of Wales when Charles becomes king?  Since when?  When he becomes king, there will be an investiture ceremony at some point in which his eldest son will become the Prince of Wales as it has always been done—if there’s one thing the British are sure of, it’s which title belongs to whom.

    • avatar Jay Gentile says:

      I believe you are mistaken. While Camilla does not use the title Princess of Wales, she is in fact the Princess of Wales because her husband is Prince of Wales. A wife assumes the status and title of her husband, according to the rules of peerage. Thus, Wallis Simpson became the Duchess of Windsor when she married the Duke of Windsor. Princess of Wales is simply one of the many titles Camilla holds.

      • avatar Claudia Marek says:

        Yes, this is correct.  Camilla is indeed The Princess of Wales because she is married to the Prince of Wales. Morganatic marriage does not exist in England unlike the German royal families.  If you will recall this was the argument against allowing Edward VIII to marry Wallis Simpson…if she married the king she would be queen and no way to change that.  She does not use the title as a courtesy to Diana’s memory.

        If Charles should die before his mother, the title Prince of Wales would be vacant as it does not automatically pass.  In recent history when Frederick, Prince of Wales died before his father (George II) the title was bestowed upon his son the future George III by his grandfather.

    • avatar mioutx says:

      Baby Snooks,  egads you’ve been woefully misinformed about how titles and the peerage works in the United Kingdom, which by the way has nothing to do with the German branch of the family.  The biggest “issue” here is that Kate is a commoner whereas Diana was from nobility. Prince Charles was the Prince of Wales at the time of his wedding and therefore Lady Diana Spenser became Diana, Princes of Wales. Kate is a commoner and cannot be called Princess Catherine; it’s similar to how Princess Michael of Kent cannot be referred to as Princess Marie-Christine.   If they wish to be referred to as “Princess” they must take their husband’s name. It’s nothing to do with “the” in the title. 

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Egads who cares? I really don’t. But I’m very bored today listening to the latest excuses as to why the checks are not in mail so I will give a short history lesson about descendency and lineage and titles. Anglo-Saxon lineage is through the father.  My great-great-grandfather was English who came here and had a daughter. My great-grandmother.  And so went that branch of a family that’s been part of the history of England since the 12th century. Just the same it is my family and so I know a little bit about the history of England. And about the peerage.  And the rules of peerage are not the same as the rules of royal title. 

        When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, the House of Hanover merged with the House of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha.  When Prince Edward VII became monarch, the House of Hanover became the House of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha. They changed the name to the House of Windsor when Prince George V became monarch but it is still the House of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha. And Elizabeth II is not the head of the House of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha.  Andreas, the Prince of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha is.  And in some matters yes she defers to him.  He is after all the head of the house. 

        The rules of peerage and the rules of royal title, again, are not the same.  It did not matter that Lady Diana Spencer was of peerage.  She would have become the Princess of Wales and referred to as Princess Diana since she was indeed the Princess of Wales. It is more a matter of tradition than rules.  The problem was and is the divorce.  Charles is the Prince of Wales.  Camilla should be the Princess of Wales and there was nothing to prevent the title being given to her except that it wouldn’t “look good” so Camilla is not the Princess of Wales.  It wouldn’t “look good” not only because the people still regard Diana as the Princess of Wales but because despite the reported threat to do so the title was not removed upon the divorce. She was, after all, still the mother of the future king.  The official royal biographies list her as Diana, Princess of Wales. The “the” is missing. As is the “Princess” preceding Diana. 

        Even though she was dead when Charles remarried and so there really was no problem with Camilla becoming the Princess of Wales, despite the official biographies, the public still regards Diana as the Princess of Wales.  And so there was a problem. Which, again, presents a problem for Kate Middleton. Who may or may not become the Princess of Wales. Because it still might not “look good” to the people and the people strangely enough do matter to the royal family.  The people are a bulwark for the monarch against a Parliament removing the Constitutional power of the monarch. The monarch in turn is a bulwark against a Parliament removing the Constitutional rights of the people. The monarch defends the Crown and the Constitution. Which is why Great Britain will never adopt the EU Constitution which would replace its own.  The monarch will never allow it.  It didn’t receive much coverage but Great Britain in fact came close to a constitutional crisis several years ago over the matter of the EU Constitution. Elizabeth II has the power to dismiss Parliament and call for new elections. Some believe she should have used her constitutional power to prevent the change in the House of Lords which served as a bulwark as well in terms of preventing a House of Commons exercising too much power of its own. 

        As for the royal houses of Europe and hwo things really work the House of Grimaldi is not considered a royal house and yet when Princess Caroline married Ernst, Prince of Hanover, she went from Serene Highness to Royal Highness. Commoners do indeed become royal princesses. And she became a cousin of Elizabeth II by marriage. Elizabeth II in fact had to recognize the marriage for it to be legal in Great Britain where the House of Hanover has extensive land holdings. The House of Hanover of course being the preceding royal house of Great Britain. The royal lineage of the House of Windsor is in fact quite German. Prince Phillip is descended from the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg so the House of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha will become the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg und Oldenburg when Charles, or William, ascends the throne although they changed the name already to Mountbatten-Windsor. Even with the name change, they will still not be head of the house. Christoph, Prince of Schleswig-Holstein or his son Friedrich will be.

        Peerage and royalty are far more complex than most realize.  I’m not real impressed with either Charles or William. So even though I am an American, I do often say “Long live the Queen.” 

  2. avatar Karin Dobson says:

    Always amusing to read comments from Americans re the British Royals.I didn’t see the O’Donnell rant but my question would be why would he feel it necessary to comment?Who cares what Lawrence O’Donnell thinks about the British Royals? Did Liz write this column?I am surprised she didn’t know who the Earl of Wessex is.I believe she meant the Earl of Essex who was a favorite of Elizabeth 1st.

  3. avatar Dianne Lopp says:

    Liz, I love you but you are wrong on the title.  The Princess of Wales, when she is the wife of the future sovereign, is entitled to the title of “Princess (insert first name here).”  The other royal wives take the first name of their husbands.  One of Fergie’s titles was Princess Andrew.  And there is the infamous Princess Michael, whose given name is Marie Christine.  Princess Diana was so referred by all British people from the moment she got married.  Princess Alexandra, wife of the Prince of Wales (“Bertie”) is another example from the 19th century.  What Diana lost in the divorce was the appellation “Her Royal Highness”.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      You are correct about assuming the royal “personage” of the husband but the monarch may as I recall bestow the royal title to the wife as well as the Queen did with the Dowager Duchess of Gloucester, not the Dowager Duchess of Kent as I stated,  although she became “the” Princess rather than the Princess indicating the title was honorary rather than hereditary.  I believe there have been others as well. But not that many.  The Princess Michael’s main claim to infamy is her being referred to as the “Rent-a-Royal” although she wasn’t the first or the most notorious. The most notorious being the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  Had Diana not had children, more likely she would have become simply Lady Diana. Which she had always been. Even when she wasn’t a lady so to speak.  

      The monarch has more power than people realize. That divorce indicated how much. The Archbishop didn’t decide to allow Charles and Diana to divorce. The Queen did.  The Archbishop of Canterbury merely concurred. As he did when she decided to allow Charles and Camilla to marry.  Despite the appearances to the contrary. It was more a matter of tradition than anything else. And interestingly she could have decide to allow Princess Margaret to marry Peter Townsend. Some believe it was actually her mother who pooosed it. And the Archbishop opposed.  She of course married Anthony Armstrong-Jones who became the Viscount Snowdown and then they divorced and she became the first of many of the royal scandals but she also became the first to “do her own thing” as they say. And that divorce is what set the tone for the “new” House of Windsor rather than the divorce of Charles and Diana. 

      I think Americans are fascinated with the royals for the same reason the British are.  They’ve been around for so long that it’s hard not to be fascinated with them. 

      • avatar Dianne Lopp says:

        Princess Diana was born Lady Diana Spencer—her title was not conferred upon her by Elizabeth II.  Her heriditary title came from the Spencer family and is older than the House of Windsor.    When Prince Phillip threatened Diana that she would lose her title if she and Charles divorced, she replied “I was born with my title.”  The Spencer family considers itself to be far grander than the Windsors and far more English—Diana called the Windsors “the Germans.”  I will never cease to be amazed by people who make up “facts” out of thin air in order to appear knowledgable.  Read some history!

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          Had Diana not had children, more likely she would have become simply Lady Diana. Which she had always been. Even when she wasn’t a lady so to speak.  


          I believe you missed the “which she had always been.” Perhaps I should have said “she would have been relegated to being addressed by her hereditary title of Lady Diana.” 

          As for the history I know some of it simply because I am descended from a man named Sir John Hotham.  A family as old as the Spencers if not older.  

  4. avatar brad berger says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if Sarah Palin filled a void and lead the movement for the ERA.
    Do women realize there is no national holiday in honor of a woman.
    Sarah Palin is the woman who can garner publicity and of course political men dislike her already and that is why she should try to get the women to support her and she should support all women. She has the talent and forum to lead women to a true democracy in our own country.
    Women earn less than men for the same job and are battered and raped over and over – why because the men are in control.
    What happened to the ERA in this session of Congress with Democrats in control of our government and a woman Speaker of the House and a liberal President and a liberal Senate Judiciary Committee. Absolutely zero – the ERA never got out of Committee – men just don’t let the ERA get anyplace and the liberal establishment women just go along with the folly.
    Shame on all these people who do not believe in a true democracy. It is time that the majority of our country has equal rights.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Brad. The ERA. Sarah Palin? Somehow the two just don’t seem to go together very well. While it may be true that she can shoot her own moose she also knows she is expected to take it home and cook it.  Please. 

      • avatar brad berger says:

        Any woman leader you can find is great with me but so far no woman of fame wants to lead the fight for the ERA. I’ve written many rich and famous and not so rich and none have offered to even help let alone lead. GOOD LUCK!

      • avatar Lila says:

        Hooo…. *snort*   Snooks, that about made my soda come out of my nose.  So funny because it’ so true.