kenny hodgart

A king for our times

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This article appeared in The Herald

There is always pressure to say something rude about Prince Charles. Just as mocking George Bush still guarantees the most witless of comics a captive audience, it is the surest way for journalists to get a readership on their side. But aside from the fact that our future monarch is a very opinionated man and therefore capable of antagonising the majority of his merciful subjects on some matter or other, it must be allowed that he does possess that distinctly royal ability to lead by example.

It would seem that the era of obscenely cheap clothing is currently threatened. Sure, there may yet be vast armies of the malnourished lining up to work an 80-hour week for the kind of money you or I might grudgingly give a work-mate for running the marathon, all so that people in wealthier countries can go to a discount store and buy a pair of jeans for three quid. However, increases in VAT and shipping costs, coupled with a weaker pound, mean that clothing and footwear prices have started rising for the first time in 18 years. And with “fair trade” clothes gaining in popularity, the worm may be turning.

This is where old Chas comes in. Not only has he taken a moment from muttering on about Gaia to tell readers of American Vogue that they should go back to wearing wool and eschew the kind of throwaway garments which invariably end up in landfill sites, he has even donated some of his own corduroy trousers to Oxfam.

Happy the man who alights on said trousers. Charles was named World’s Best Dressed Man by Esquire magazine earlier this year, and not without good reason. Here is a man who cares not a jot for fads – his double-breasted suits, his dandyish waistcoats, his fogeyish Oxford lace-ups, all are “investment” pieces, which can be worn for decades on end and repaired as and when necessary. Charles’ attire has never been out of fashion, because it was never really in fashion.

Admittedly it is women who have driven this mania for more and more clothes, gripped as many of them appear to be by the mistaken belief that owning as many pairs of shoes, regardless of quality, as Carrie from Sex and the City will make them more desirable.

But one cannot expect the Prince to make this point. His mother and 50% of his future subjects are women, and he has martyred himself enough.

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