With all the current furore about Prince Andrew, it is worth remembering that the biggest scandal about the monarchy has yet to break. A revelation a long time in the making. I don’t know quite how to say this but the simple truth is…
Prince Philip is a zombie.
I should be clear. I don’t mean this in a metaphorical sense. I am not saying – because he is a decadent, crusty, crazed, hate-filled canker who regards the modern world through the sallow, yellowing eyes of a syphilitic wreck – that there is merely something ‘zombie-like’ in Prince Philip’s demeanour. I mean that he is…quite literally…a member of the undead.
For Prince Phillip is now over 305 years old. There are paintings of him long before the time of cameras. In his work, ‘The Rakes Progress’, the 18th century painter and satirist William Hogarth captured a figure that bears a remarkable resemblance to Prince Philip lounging at the back of a Covent Garden brothel. Later still, there are grainy images of Prince Philip haunting the fog-covered streets of London in the time of the Hansom cab and the Ripper.
As an on-and-off journalist I have known about the rumours for a while. But much of it has been kept from the public eye. Specifically the most shocking secret of all. The reason for his longevity.
Every night Buckingham Palace sends a mysterious and sinister detachment into the shadowy back-alleys of the dark, gaping cityscape. They are known, informally, as the ‘Phil-Reapers’. Their task – to seize homeless people, to dispatch of them and to harvest their organs. These are then taken back to the Palace to provide the raw material by which Prince Philip is able to ‘regenerate’ in his ‘blood chamber’.
Of course, the press never report on this. Occasionally, just before closing time in some dimly-lit bar, Fleet Street hacks will talk about it in fearful, brandy-laced whispers, before – with a shudder – pulling up their coat collars and heading out into the dark London night.
But in the highest echelons of power, they know the truth. And they have always known. So when Boris Johnson enacts his bumbling spiel before the bright light of the cameras, when he tells you that the monarchy is ‘beyond reproach’ – notice how, in the same speech, he will often add something more. He will inform you, brightly, just how the Conservatives have presided over a ‘fall in the levels of homelessness’…that London’s homeless population is decreasing all the time.
And indeed it is.
But the glossy brightness of that artificial smile will never conceal the fact that the shadows are creeping closer from the edges. Ever closer. And for those denizens of our great and ancient capital, I would ask of you only this. When Big Ben chimes at the stroke of midnight, take the opportunity to clasp a loved one to you. Warm your hands by the crackling hearth. Pull the covers of your bedclothes tight, before drifting off into gentle slumber. But never forget. Somewhere out there, somewhere outside the small, faint periphery of human life. Somewhere in the vast darkness beyond, the darkness which waits eternal to receive every human existence. It is in that infinite blackness where Prince Philip feeds.