I’ve often thought of putting together a book of advice for life from “The Godfather.” But I figured getting the rights would be a hassle, and the royalties would probably eat away any money I’d make from it.
Still, fans would enjoy it, and maybe someone would actually get some good out of it; who knows? It’s not that I see the Corleones as a morally defensible guide to how to live one’s life, but the book and film do contain a lot of advice, good or bad. And some of it makes some common sense. Especially, I’ve noticed, to men.
Anyway, this is on my mind today because of the confab Her Majesty has called to help Prince Harry get his mind right (just to mix my movie metaphors a might). And I’m thinking the Queen, not being a guy, might not be hip to this stuff.
The first thing she and the other princes need to tell him is fundamental. I’m picturing William telling him this, while the others nod:
Harry, you’re my younger brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.
It doesn’t need that menacing look that Michael gave Fredo. Harry’s a good kid. Ask the South Carolina guardsmen who served with him in Afghanistan. They’ll back me up on this. Just reason with him; he understands duty.
But if he needs more convincing, the other thing they might say is a corollary to the first:
What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft with all that comedy you are playing with that young girl. Never tell anyone outside the Family what you’re thinking again.
Which means like, ixnay on the Instagram posts. If you have something to say, run it through the palace press office.
As long as he listens, that should do it.
Yeah, I kid, but my own view of this situation isn’t all that far off. Harry does have an obligation to his family, and as an extension, to his whole country — which actually makes the obligation greater than just family. It’s not as heavy as that borne by his brother, but it’s still an obligation. Just show up, cut a few ribbons, keep your nose clean, and in return you get this amazingly posh life. You don’t tarnish the brand by running off to America and peddling tacky souvenirs, or whatever fantasy you have in mind for being “financially independent.”
Of course, you can also use Puzo to make the opposite argument. You could say that Harry’s got his own family now — a wife and a kid — and “a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
Not that I think his ribbon-cutting schedule takes away all that much from quality time with the fam. In fact, he should be able to spend MORE time than most men who work for a living.
Of course, in order to do that, he might have to depart from the British upper class habit of having the kids raised by governesses and public boarding schools. If he really wants a more “progressive” lifestyle, that would be a good place to make a positive change.
But in any case, however you and your family choose to live, you don’t have to make public pronouncements about that or anything else you do. You don’t like the scrutiny of the paparazzi? Then keep things to yourself as much as possible. Sure, a lot of it’s out of your hands, and I agree that the celebrity media are a pack of jackals. But control what you can. See what you stirred up this time? If you don’t like the feeding frenzy — and I’m with you on that — don’t throw chum into the water…
I wish them Godspeed on their endeavor to become the very model of a modern royal family – so long as they agree to forgo all or part of their stipend.
What a princess…
Everyone remember, there’s one piece of advice from the Don that everyone gets backward, because the movie didn’t clarify.
People say, “It’s not personal; it’s strictly business” a lot in the movie — and the book, too. It’s one of the best-known ideas from the movie. People see it as core to the way the Corleones see things, and it gets quoted a LOT by people trying to excuse hard-nosed actions in business or other endeavors.
But Puzo’s point was exactly the opposite. To the Don, everything was personal. In one place and one place only in the book is that explained, just before Michael kills Sollozzo and the police captain:
What’s ironic about people getting this backward is that this is Puzo’s central idea. The Godfather is about a guy who takes everything personally, and who has built a world based on men, not laws. It’s a traditional, non-northern-European way of looking at the world. It’s not about impersonal laws, but about personal relationships.
I’ve mentioned this before, so excuse me for repeating myself. But has anyone read The Fourth K, also by Puzo? It’s about a fictional POTUS — a member of the Kennedy family, so not a Sicilian — whose daughter is kidnapped and murdered by terrorists. And the president uses the full power of his office to exact revenge.
The same theme. The personal over “business,” or the impersonal…
I view fascination with “royalty” as little more than celebration of being exploited. We should be way beyond classism and all of its vestiges by now. The wealth of the “royal” worthy ones is mostly based on a centuries-long system of oppression and seizing and holding power and property by force and treachery. Inherited titles and power should have no place in a democratic modern world. The subsidies of the royal family are less offensive to me than the continued income from family-owned property that was accumulated through the worst aspects of feudalism. I would say “hooray” to any titled individual willing to abandon its classism and unmerited favor – except that I just don’t care.
I think what Harry is trying to say is: