Thursday, November 16, 2006

Prince Charles tops out in all three services

I must apologize to Prince Charles for missing his birthday. At the time it seemed unimportant... to me anyway.

I was a little stunned with the birthday gift offered up by the UK Ministry of Defence. Jeez, three promotions in one day?!! Isn't that a little excessive?

Prince Charles received an extra treat for his 58th birthday on Tuesday with a promotion to four-star rank in all three services of the military.

The throne heir, due to celebrate his birthday privately on Tuesday evening with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, will now be a navy admiral, an army general and an air chief marshal, the Ministry of Defence said.
That's one helluva workload.

It's also as far as he can go since the next available rank is reserved for wartime use only and Britain is, well, only kinda, sorta out there at the moment. Tony Blair doesn't run around calling himself a "war prime minister" and he doesn't really have a "war cabinet".

But I digress. I was wondering why the UK MOD felt they had to promote Charles. I mean, there was no shame in the ranks he had held.

"We are promoting him to keep him in step with individuals who are his peers in the armed forces," a defence ministry spokesman told Reuters.
Really? That's a reason for promotion? Does the Prince of Wales actually have peers? I mean, he is royalty and all that.

If I'd known there was a peer and age program for promotion in the service, I would have signed up for that! Wow, I mean, the system I was in required all kinds of other things like school, rank exams, experience and performance assessments. And, to have sat out the past thirty years and still get promoted to the top ranks... well, that's a damned fine idea!

I did have the occasion to meet Prince Charles back in a time when sea monsters dominated a much flatter earth. Lieutenant Charles Windsor was the communications officer in HMS Jupiter, a British frigate which operated with my ship during an exercise off San Diego. As a leading rate at the time my contact was minimal until our communications officer managed to snag HRH at a cocktail party taking place alongside on our quarterdeck. I was on watch in the communications control room of the ship and was introduced while a tour was taking place.

That was just a few years before Charles would end his active service at age 28. And it just got better from there. It's so Gilbert and Sullivan.

In any case, I hold some comfort in the fact that Charles's new ranks are honourary. And, I suppose there is some advantage to having a family connection with the technical owner. It is after all, his mother's navy, army and air force.

While I find the whole thing a touch amusing I'm quite certain these guys are rubbing their hands with glee. Three sets of every uniform they sell. And, the prices are in pounds sterling.

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