Kenneth Ryesky

Diana or Camilla? All a matter of personal opinion and whim

There are many types of agreements and transactions that must be set forth in writing to be enforceable in the courts. These are known by the somewhat misleading name “Statutes of Frauds,” so named from the archetype legislation enacted in 1677 by the English Parliament, officially captioned as “An Act for prevention of Frauds and Perjuryes.”  The “fraud” referred to in the title has no direct reference to any criminal offense, but rather, fraud perpetuated upon the courts.

As I would explain to the students in the Business Law courses I taught, this law was enacted at a time when parties to a contract were not qualified to testify as witnesses in disputes arising in connection with the contract, and so, the disputing parties would each get someone else to testify in court, and it became a contest of whose hired witness could get away with telling the biggest lie.  The fact that a goodly portion of the population was illiterate no doubt contributed heavily to the situations in which oral contracts were brought before the courts, along with the concomitant lying witnesses.  There now are hundreds if not thousands of statutes and regulations in many countries, states, and cities that require one or more particular types of agreements to be reduced to writing.  The “writing” requirement can be fulfilled by an exchange of e‑mails (as I have successfully argued in litigation).

My particular style of teaching incorporates a healthy dose of historical context, and so, in my introductory remarks to the class, I would write the official citation to the original Statute of Frauds on the board [29 Car. II c.3], and explain that the statute is in Chapter 3 of the 29th volume of statutes enacted by the Parliament during the reign of King Charles (“Carolus” in Latin) the Second, and then gratuitously add that there were two English kings named Charles, and that was a good chance that we would live to see a third one.

As almost everyone now knows, as of last week Charles the Third has in fact become King of England (and, in the wake of the the various Acts of Union in 1707, 1800, and 1801, of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to boot).  In connection with the transition now in process with the United Kingdom Monarchy, I posted various comments on the Internet social media expressing my implicit opinion that happens to be more favorable to King Charles’s now deceased first wife than to his second and current wife.  The posting has been met with both plaudit and reproof, but more notably with the laughter emoji.

Charles’s problem was that he wanted things both ways.  He wanted the benefits and privileges of British royalty, but he wanted to be free of the obligations and duties that accompany that status (“obligations and duties” include restrictions regarding whom he may and may not marry).

The fact that Camilla may well be far more compatible than Diana as a spouse in a happy marriage to Charles is immaterial.  The sound function of the Monarchy is highly dependent upon securing the public esteem.  Diana’s ability to connect with the public was far better than Camilla’s.  I wish no ill upon Camilla, but question whether, if, G-d forbid, she should meet an early death similar to Diana’s, there would be as many throngs of people lining up to sign the condolence books as who did so after Diana’s passing.

All of Diana’s academic shortcomings, and her disconnects from Charles, were and are irrelevant to the continued existence of the Monarchy institution.   She knew how to relate to the public, and has inculcated those invaluable skills to her elder son (if not her younger one).

For those of the Royal Family, personal comfort and convenience is secondary if not tertiary to the perpetuation of the Monarchy institution.  The workday of a Royal Family member is 24 hours, seven days per week.  I have seen too many politicians, corporate executives,  bureaucrats, and clergy (of diverse faiths) issue statements at the behest of individuals to whom they were beholden and dependent.  Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor-Mountbatten was nobody’s ventriloquist dummy; everything she said (and refrained from saying) was personally measured and considered by her in terms of how it would affect the Monarchy institution.  During her final year of more than 70 on the job, Queen Elizabeth II intentionally spoke words to preserve the Monarchy following her departure; among other things, her utterances facilitated the position of Charles’s spouse as “Queen Consort;”  this makes the circumstances of Charles’s past and ongoing personal relationship with Camilla further irrelevant from the perspective of perpetuating the Monarchy.

And so, my views of Diana and Camilla are matters of personal opinion.  I stand by them!

It is noted that Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne far earlier than expected, and had to make many personal adjustments in a very short time.  But not only did she did grow into the position, she guided the Monarchy through more than 70 years of rapid and unprecedented changes which, under a lesser sovereign, could have destroyed it. I hope that Camilla can similarly grow into her new role as Queen Consort.

About the Author
Born in Philadelphia, Kenneth lived on Long Island and made Aliyah to Israel. Professionally, he worked as a lawyer in the USA (including as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service), a college professor and an analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense. He's also a writer and a traveler.
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