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Larry King Live

Can Prince William Save the British Monarchy?

Aired June 21, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Prince William turns 18. Can this blue-blooded heart-throb save the British monarchy? Joining us from London, veteran royal watcher, bestselling biographer Robert Lacey; also in London, biographer and BBC consultant Philip Hoare, and in Washington, Kitty Kelley, author of the bestselling book "The Royals." They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Every news agency in the world is covering this. We have some outstanding guests.

Robert Lacey, in London, why is this a big story?

ROBERT LACEY, AUTHOR, "THE QUEEN MOTHER'S CENTURY": Well, it's the future of monarchy, as you say. The monarchy is only as good as the people doing the job. And we have seen the British monarchy in recent years fall into disfavor in the public opinion polls in this country. William has apparently the glamour of his mother, and perhaps the dignity of his father. Perhaps he's got the best of both, and the hope is, certainly among loyal monarchists in this country, that he'll keep the flag flying in the future.

KING: In London, in England, Kitty Kelley, is 18 adulthood?

KITTY KELLEY, AUTHOR, "THE ROYALS": Yes, I think it is, Larry, which means that the gloves will be off as far as the press is concerned. Up to this time, William has been protected really by a wall of privacy, cooperation between the media and Britain and his family, and the only pictures allowed are those that the palace sanctioned. Now that's kind of iffy. Prince Charles asked to continue that cooperation. The British people, I think, want to continue it. But I don't think there is much morality in the marketplace, because there is going to be pressure to get pictures of Prince William.

KING: Philip, why do they then, if they desire privacy, release these pictures of young Prince William?

PHILIP HOARE, BIOGRAPHER: Well, I think it's to their advantage, isn't it? They've got this man who they're now shaping up to be the new future of monarchy. And it's quite interesting, if Diana was royalty's answer to Madonna, then William is its Matt Damon. We're seeing that image being brought into focus now. You've got a young man who, sort of, preppy, sporty image, but with an arty side. He's going to study history of art. A sort of renaissance man being shaped for reigning in the 21st century.

KING: Robert Lacey, there's a birthday party for him today. If I'm correct, he did not attend. Is that correct?

LACEY: This is a big misconception. There is an enormous royal bash tonight at Windsor Castle. It's not in fact for him. It's actually for the queen's mother, whose 100th birthday it is, Princes Margaret, who's 70th birthday it is, Andrew, whose 50th birthday it is -- no, I've got that wrong. Ann, who's 50th, and Andrew, whose 40th it is. This is the way the royals do it. And I believe there was tonight a toast to William, but he is studying for the history of art. As Philip says, that's his chosen field of study, and he's got an exam tomorrow morning.

KING: Do we see -- therefore, there is no implication, Robert, in his not attending?

LACEY: Well, you could see the implication, that the royal family is trying to downplay in the idea of this being a special milestone and is very worried by just what kitty is talking about, that with coming of age and some way gloves will be off. There has been a lot of stress in this country on the idea that these photographs that are being released, these pictures of William swimming and doing all these other things, are a sort of reward to the British press for not intruding on his life at Eton, so we're being told now you see it all. And as Kitty rightly says, the hope is in the future and implication is that the British press at least will continue to keep the bargain and will perhaps let him go through university with the same sort of privacy he's enjoyed so far.

KING: Kitty, he looks an awful lot -- he look an awful lot, Kitty, like his late mother, and one would gather she would be very proud of how he has turned out. What -- with all this secrecy, what do we know about Prince William?

Kelley: He really does stop your heart a bit, doesn't he?

KING: Yes.

KELLEY: He looks so much like her. He's kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio with a crown. I mean, he's got it all. This is a young man who's handsome, he's got the goodwill of the entire world. He's got the monarchy to look forward to. For whatever it's going to be, though, Larry, by the time he gets it. His grandmother is 74 years old. She's longevity on her side. She's going to live as long as her mother. By that time, Prince Charles is what? Seventy-five when he comes to the throne. He, too, has longevity on his side. And by the time we have William as the king, he is going to be a man in his 50s, possibly.

KING: So next big thing is when William gets engaged, right? That's a biggie.

KELLEY: I wouldn't -- I think we're going to have a lot more biggies before we get to that one. I think there's going to be a real tussle over the press coverage of this young man for the next couple of years.

KING: Philip, what do we know about him as -- is he a good student? What kind of boy is he?

HOARE: Oh, I think he's a very normal boy, as far as his position will allow. I mean, all the indications are that he loves doing all the things you or I like doing when we were kids. I think it's very interesting the way that the interview, for instance, which went with these pictures, was very -- I found it very cagey, rather stage-managed. It was the sort of interview you get from a heavily PR'ed Hollywood movie star, and I think that's very much the tone he himself is setting. I think that's very interesting. I think he's really on top of it. I think he's learned from what happened to his mother, but I think he's learning from right back to his great grandmother as well, who was a great actor, I think, the queen mother, and I think he's learning from those lessons.

KELLEY: You put her in the past tense.

KING: Philip, is he close to his father?

HOARE: Her legacy.

KING: Is he close to his father?

HOARE: Very close, I think. I think so. You see that in body language, when you see them together. They are intimate, you know. They kiss. They hug. It's, you know, it's obviously a very close connection there.

KING: We'll break and come back with more as we discuss the 18th birthday of the future king of England.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be including your phone calls.

Tomorrow night's topic is capital punishment and the state of Texas.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Robert Lacey, the author of, among many books, "The Queen Mother Century," in London.

Concerning expectations, Robert, how do you prepare to be a monarch?

LACEY: Well, in the old days, it was simple, you went into the army, or in Prince Charles' case, the navy, and what's interesting about these latest pictures of Prince William, for example, is there is not a trace of any military activity, although we know that he was in the military training court school. He actually won the sword of honor for being the best cadet. He loves playing polo, and we saw a lot of signs of that aristocratic sport. There's no doubt at all that nowadays preparing to be king involves tailoring your personality to the zeitgeist, if you like, what people are fearing. And you know, to see the prince, you wouldn't say really that cooking lessons are part of being a king. But in fact to make a media friendly king, you learn how to cook chicken paella.

KING: In general, Kitty, the -- we hear that he is going to include three red scallops, is that true, as part of mother's family insignia on his coast arms?

KELLEY: Yes, from the Spencer Coat of Arms.

KING: Is that significant?

KELLEY: It is significant. What is more significant, I think, is that he's really had no communication with his mother's brother since the funeral, none whatsoever.

KING: We know that to be a fact?

KELLEY: Well, I think we do.

KING: What do you make of that?

KELLEY: I think that the royal family is -- he's more Windsor than he is Spencer, although he looks so much like his mother. But it is indeed the royal family that is influencing this young man -- now.

KING: Does that mean, Philip, we are -- they are playing down the Princess Di concept?

HOARE: I am sure it does. I mean, the trouble is that his manners and his gestures are so much his mother's -- the way he laughs with his hand over his mouth, and the way he stands to camera. It really reminds me of the last time I saw his mother was being driven out of Vaclav Havel's Castle in Prague, and she had the same sullen expression on her face that I saw on him when he was following her funeral cortege, and it's very much there, and you -- in mind of the British public, the mind of the global public really, you're never going to get rid of that ghost.

KELLEY: You notice though on the stamps that they issued in commemoration of this birthday and with the queen mother, they stated to the artist when he drew the pictures: Do not include the princess of Wales.

KING: Robert, do we know if Charles gets along with -- rather if William gets along with Camilla?

LACEY: We do. We probably know more about this than we're justified in knowing. By which I mean that there is no doubt at all that he spends the weekends with Camilla. He gets on very well with her children and enjoys their company.

The area for some query is perhaps the way in which Charles' spin doctors have used the obvious ease that William feels with Camilla -- effectively his stepmother -- to say well look, if Diana's own son gets on well with this woman, then what is the problem for everybody else? Last year for example, when Charles went on rather controversial yacht holiday and took Camilla, Saint James Palace said, well, William asked her to go. Since then we've heard that maybe William didn't ask her to go And that it was a bit of spin doctoring in order to push the real main agenda in Charles' life at the moment, which is winning a place for Camilla beside him.

KING: Is a marriage expected there, Robert?

LACEY: I don't think it's expected in the near future. The trouble -- because it's certainly denied officially. Charles' line is he doesn't want to get married, and there's every evidence that the couple, a middle-aged couple, rather enjoy their separate lives. The trouble is with all of this that royal people deny romance and marriage to the very last minute, until suddenly it's announced as a new reality, so there's a certain cynicism about the denials.

KING: And Camilla was not invited to birthday bash, right?

KELLEY: That's right.

LACEY: No, she wasn't invited to the birthday bash. The queen has said that -- well, the queen's press offices rather have said that she will not be attending official engagements, and only a limited number of private family engagements.

KING: Now, Fergie was invited, is that correct, Kitty.

KELLEY: Yes indeed, she was. She was on Prince Andrew's list.

You know, Larry, when we were talking about this birthday party, it is fascinating. The only birthday tonight is Prince William's. The rest are...

KING: The others are August, right? They're all different times?

KELLEY: Right. And Andrew turned 40 in February. But he was on the list. The queen said each one of the honorees could submit a list of 100 names, and Sarah Ferguson was on her former husband's list, and she is going to be invited tonight. This is a big first for her. I'm sure that everyone is going to be very, very civil, and I would bet everything that I have that Prince Philip will not even get near her during the evening.

Would you agree, Robert and Philip?

LACEY: Yes.

KING: Fergie told us on this program that she still loves her husband. Are they going to remarry, do you know, Philip?

HOARE: I don't know. That's the great rumor, isn't it? I mean, Robert probably knows better than I, but I think the British public would kind of like it to happen. That is -- and that is -- they've got that behind them.

KING: Robert, are they are going to remarry? They're living together, aren't they?

LACEY: The queen's problem is that her two elder sons are currently in very unusual domestic situations.

KING: To Put it mildly.

LACEY: And the great dilemma for her and the family is how to accommodate this. Yes, I think there is every chance actually that in five years' time, both sons will be remarried, and Andrew back to his first wife.

KING: We'll be right back with more. We'll be including your phone calls.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. We'll be taking your calls shortly.

Robert Lacey in London, the royals are supposed to be the guardians of morality, yet Charles and Andrew's living arrangements are certainly unusual in that regard, are they not?

LACEY: Yes. And this is the ambivalence that the royal families finding so difficult to cope with at the moment. The public opinion polls don't give much help, because when people are asked, do they feel that, say, Charles and Camilla are entitled to personal happiness and might marry? Everybody says yes, I mean, significant majority, 70 percent. when those same people are then asked, well, would you therefore like Camilla to become queen? Then people say oh, no, no. There is a very definite feeling against that. There are the memories of Diana. There's the fact that the feeling is that she played a guilty role in the breakdown of this wonderful dream marriage that sustained Britain all through the '80s, and people feel that their expectations were badly let down.

So it's a dilemma, and the royal family hasn't found a way of resolving it. That's why William and a fresh start is so important to them.

KING: Kitty, the queen mum will be nearly 100. Apparently, she's going to do a radio talk during her birthday week in August, and most people have never heard her voice. What's going to happen when she passes on?

KELLEY: Oh, end of an era. end of an era. This is the woman who really relaunched, reinvented the monarchy, kept it going during the war. And to generations, older generations of people, she represents all that's good about the monarchy.

The public opinion polls that Robert was just talking about, they show that the greatest enemy of the monarchy right now is total public indifference. It's frightening. It's the first time in modern times that more than 50 percent of the British public just don't care about the monarchy. KING: What do we know, Philip, about the spare to heir, as they might call him, William's brother Prince Harry? He's how old now?

HOARE: Gosh, I can't remember, but he's a slightly shadowy figure in a way, but he's very endearing, I think, as a character, because he seems to be much more outgoing than William. And you always see him -- he is the one who's lurking about, who's sort of sort of kidding about in the news footage, and I know -- I think he has a character which is rather more open, much less shadows than William's.

KING: Any chance -- go ahead, Kitty, I'm sorry.

KELLEY: There wasn't so much pressure put on Harry. He's 15 now. And you have to remember, that when the princess was alive and she was going through the troubled times of her divorce, she really leaned on her son William a lot. She went to him almost as a confidant in many ways. So this young man grew up to be very serious in one respect. I mean, he was his mother's adviser, telling her don't worry, mommy, you don't need a title, you'll always be a princess to me, telling her to sell her gowns for charity, advising her on her relationship with Sarah Ferguson. I think William was step by step with the princess, advising her. Harry was spared that, because he was a little bit younger. Also he's not, you know, he's not the guy who's got to carry the crown.

KING: Yes. Is that easier, do you think, on him?

KELLEY: Oh, yes, oh, a lot easier.

KING: We'll be back with more, and we'll be including your phone calls as well.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Robert Lacey, Queen Elizabeth is 74. Charles is 51. Any thoughts, any chance of her abdicating?

LACEY: No, I think I can safely say not at all. I mean, abdication is the ultimate obscenity in a way for certainly the queen's generation of the royal family. It was a time of immense trauma. As Kitty said earlier, the queen mother really saved the royal family with her steadfastness after that happened. So certainly for the queen, the idea of abdicating isn't on. There's talk sometimes in this country that maybe Charles will abdicate or step down in order to marry Camilla, thus leave way free for William. That really doesn't seem likely either, because you know, the essence of this weird thing, the British monarchy, is its hereditary nature. And once you say, well, we don't like this one, we'll have that one, you're moving towards the electoral system, the republican system with a small "r."

And so what's interesting also, too, Diana used to say that whenever this sort of thing was discussed on television and people got the chance to phone up and vote, William, who took a very intelligent and lively interest in this, would always phone up and actually place radio votes for -- against the idea of his father passing the title over to him, because from Williams' point of view, if it's not a proper hereditary monarchy, it doesn't mean anything either.

KING: What is -- what does this cost the British public, Philip? What does having a monarchy cost them?

HOARE: Of course I couldn't give exact figures. But there is a very interesting story in the paper today about "Royal Building Bill Goes Through the Roof." We've discovered that we've overspent by 70,000 pounds on the queen's wardrobe. That's not actually what wardrobe contains; that's the actual structure of the wardrobe, which has to be strengthened to contain all her new dresses. So I mean, it's one of the great things I think that argues against royalty, is the cost of them, and I think for British people who want to know value for money, that's what's going to really, I think, in a way be saving monarchy is when we actually start to realize that they are some value for money.

KING: Kitty, what does public get for its money? Why do they go for this?

KELLEY: Well, they have no choice right now. But, Larry, it's one argument that they're going to use, that the reporters are going to use to be able to cover Prince William. They're going to say that it is the public's right to know. After all, the public is paying 100 million dollars, practically, in taxes to keep this monarchy afloat, he is a future king, so they have a right to know. It's a hard argument. It is really a tough one.

KING: Yes. What do you make of it, Robert? It's certainly a sound argument, isn't it? Why do the people continue to support it?

LACEY: Well, the other argument would be, that in order for William to do a good job, he's got to be brought up in a more normal fashion than has been the case in the past. The argument would be, that he's not going to be able to get in touch with the ordinary themes of life if he is effectively turned into a puppet who is pursued everywhere, as his mother was pursued, by the cameras.

Kitty is quite right, the -- when the monarchy gets in trouble, that's when the money arguments start. Back in the '90s, the queen had to agree to start paying tax, an unheard of thing for many years, really, because of the bad behavior of the family.

The royal yacht -- there we Diana embracing her sons on the royal yacht. It was a sort of wonderful cocoon and great symbol for Britain that took them all over the world. That was scrapped in '90s as a sort of punishment for the bad behavior. So there is no doubt that it's the economy of it that matters. Although everybody looks at cost of the American presidency and Air Force One and Air Force Two, when the queen travels, she just charters an ordinary plane, and it doesn't cost nearly so much, in fact, as the imperial presidency that you have. KELLEY: Well, wait a minute, Robert. No, wait I have -- I'm an American, I have to stand up. Our president is elected. It's the highest national office in this country, a far cry from being a queen, a far cry.

KING: On that note, let me break. It's not an editorial break. It's required by our time constraints. We'll go to your phone calls right after this. We'll reintroduce the panel. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Prince William is 18 today. And our guests are Robert Lacey. He's in London, the best-selling biographer, veteran royal watcher, author of "The Queen Mother's Century;" in Washington, Kitty Kelley, a bestselling biographer on many fronts, author of "The Royals;" and in London, Philip Hoare, the biographer and BBC consultant.

We're going to your phone calls. Ellensburg, Washington, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question is for the panel. I was wondering how much freedom does William really have in choosing his college and girlfriends? And if he doesn't have freedom, who is really running the show behind the scenes?

KING: Kitty, want to start with that one?

KELLEY: William is really, very, very independent, and he can pick and choose an awful lot. As far as the college goes, bets are on now that it will be Edinboro (ph), right, Robert? And I think one reason for that is because it's in Scotland and it is not accessible. Although were his mother alive, I think she might weigh-in for oxford.

KING: Robert?

LACEY: Yes, Edinboro, the choice that seems most likely for his university, is a very clever one on his part, because it's not so elitist, obviously elitist, as Oxford and Cambridge. All previous princes of Wales have gone to those elite colleges, and they've never really had the exam grades to justify it. The irony is that William may be the first royal to have grades to get to Oxbridge and to deliberately choose not to go there.

When it comes to girlfriends, again, Kitty is quite right, he seems, so far as we know, to be very independent. But at the end of the day, public pressure comes in. There is a sense in which Charles' marriage to Diana was an arranged marriage. The point being that Diana was very much the choice of the media, the choice of the people, and indeed Charles' father said to him that once the two of them had been seen together for length of time they were, it was actually impossible for Charles to back down and that he had to marry her. So that's the pressure that will come after the private choice. KING: Philip, would the royal family want him to marry someone of, for want of better term, blue blood somewhere?

HOARE: Who can tell? Who can tell what sort of situation might be pertaining when it comes to that. I think the whole thing about William's social life and the way that that might go, or the way it is going is all -- it's so conjectural in a way. I mean, we know that, for instance, Charles has been very keen to stop him hanging around with Tom Parker Bowles because of the drug connection there. There is a sense, certainly from the interview that we had last -- during the week, in that William is playing down that sort of recreational part of his life -- the clubbing, music. We have that sense that that's being sort, in a way, played down. And I find that sad in a way, because I think in a way it's going to limit what he can do socially, and necessarily, because of his position, that he is limited in that way, but I think it's sad.

KELLEY: And it puts a big bounty on his head. I mean, imagine the pressure that is now on photographers to get that very first picture of the first kiss or the first girlfriend. If he could just have a seminormal life, that wouldn't be so difficult for him.

KING: Holly Springs, North Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I have two questions.

The first is, how often, or has William been to see -- or to visit his mother's grave? And has he had any contact with the Fayed family?

KING: Philip, do you know the answer? Does anyone know the answer to the first? How often he goes his mother's grave? Philip, do you know?

LACEY: Yes.

HOARE: I don't.

LACEY: Yes. He went to his mother's grave once since her death. But he is, again, as Kitty said earlier, he certainly played down the attempts of his Uncle Spencer to take him over. Also very interestingly -- and this showed us several things -- on the first anniversary of his mother's death, William, on behalf of the two boys, issued a statement thanking everybody for remembering her death, but then suggesting that the time had come to move on, and really suggesting that we shouldn't be maudlin and shouldn't look backwards. This is the tone he set, and it shows his independence of mind.

KING: No contact with the Fayeds?

LACEY: No contact with Fayeds. In fact, interestingly, he didn't apparently enjoy that time on the yacht before his mother's death. And this has nothing to do with her death. Most unusually for him, because he's a very polite boy and was brought up to be polite, and just as his mother was. He wouldn't -- he actually, we are told, refused to send a thank you letter to Mr. Al-Fayed because he found something unsavory about the whole set-up and felt he'd been exploited.

KING: Kitty, want to add something?

KELLEY: And now, Larry -- yes, the real reaction against Fayed has come from Prince Philip, who has withdrawn his royal warrant to Harrod's.

KING: What does that mean?

KELLEY: Well, that means that -- on the front of Harrod's, that carries the royal warrant of all members of royal family, on the stationary, on everything, and now Mr. Fayed has got to take that off, because Prince Philip has said you can't have it anymore.

KING: Rocklin, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. Great topic.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is, does Prince William really smoke cigarettes?

KING: A-ha. Do we know, Robert? Does he? Kitty, does he?

KELLEY: I'm afraid he has been known to take a cigarette now and then, which is absolutely anathema to the queen, and ironically, to Prince Charles, although Camilla smokes all the time.

KING: She does.

KELLEY: She does.

KING: Princess Di would certainly not have approved, would she, Philip, of Prince William or any of her children smoking?

HOARE: She certainly wouldn't. And I think it is -- well personally, I certainly wouldn't either, but I think -- when you're 18, I mean, you just go through those phases. You just -- you know, it doesn't mean he's going to end up being an addict of anything -- I don't think it's a problem.

KING: We'll take more calls. We'll ask our guest about the poll in "The Guardian" that had only 44 percent believing that Britain would be worse off without the monarchy, and many believe that the class structure in Great Britain is breaking down. We'll come back with more. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We will continue with our calls in a moment, but we are now joined by Christopher Hitchens, the famed columnist of "Vanity Fair" magazine, an outspoken opponent of royalty.

Are you celebrating Prince Williams' 18th birthday. CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, COLUMNIST, "VANITY FAIR": What's not to celebrate? He looks like a nice boy. I wish I was his age. God, I can see my own face in your monitor now, so it's putting me off, Larry. I'd give a lot to be his age again.

But what I would say if I was his father -- and I have a son near his age -- is this: Look -- look what this terrible institution did to your mother. Look what it did to your father, who has grown old and gloomy and boring and cranky. You don't have to do this. You don't have to enter the dank halls of the House of Windsor. You have -- you're in life. And you know what? If you look at the list -- the most recent opinion poll in "The Guardian" -- more than 42 percent of your own age group -- maybe you've covered this, I'm sorry to be...

KING: No. I just mentioned it.

HITCHENS: The 18 to 25 say they think the monarchy is a waste of space. Why is he doing this to himself or why -- more accurately is, perhaps, is he letting it be done to him? And why are we, sort of, encouraging the idea?

I mean, he can save himself. And the British people have grown out of the idea that they need the human sacrifice of a human family for their national identity anymore. So it seems very simple to me.

KING: What do -- how would you respond, Robert, to what Chris just said, that William should say good-bye?

LACEY: Well, I appreciate Chris's deep concern for the House of Windsor. His humanitarian concern in that area is famous. You know, the poll that he mentions -- he's quite right. As Kitty said earlier, there's an enormous problem so far as the monarchy is concerned with public apathy.

But when you actually say to people -- not the question that was asked in the "Guardian," you know, what use is it -- but you say: All right, do you want a monarchy do you want a republic? Then in fact, people do come down on the monarchy because there's a lot of cynicism in this country about, you know, the electoral process. What would it yield? Is an electoral process superior to the monarchy? And what do we get a President Clinton out of it?

HITCHENS: But, come on.

LACEY: This is sort of...

HITCHENS: No, no. That's a monarch -- come on, that's a degraded form of monarchy. The -- it's rightly called in this country the imperial presidency or the monarchical presidency.

KELLEY: We just went through that, Christopher.

HITCHENS: If we lived in a republic, I would want to be teaching people to be suspicious of it, not cynical but critical, too.

KING: Let me -- let me... HITCHENS: The thing is they would be making their own decision, whereas now, you have the random selection of heredity.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLEY: ... wants to get in.

KING: One at a time. One at a time.

HITCHENS: And why -- just as it kicks out a pretty boy now and then, why...

KING: Let me get another call, Chris. Hold on.

Piscataway, New Jersey. Christopher Hitchens has joined us. Hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Good evening, panel. I don't know if this is the American mentality or not, but I'm wondering once William completes his education, would he be allowed to move out and go out on his own, in his own house or his own flat?

KING: By the way, can do anything wants, Robert?

LACEY: Yes. I think he can. And I think that's going to be what's likely. It obviously didn't happen with Charles, but, again, Chris is quite right. Charles's life is an object lesson in how to not prepare someone for the job ahead.

And the thing we -- that people didn't think about with Charles is not that he was ready -- prepared to be king, but that he was being prepared to wait. And William, on the, you know, on the actuarial basis of the years, means he's got 30 years ahead of him. I think it'd be a great thing if he went, got a job, and had some contact with ordinary life. And then who knows what would happen after that?

KELLEY: I think...

KING: Philip, what do you think he might do? Philip?

KELLEY: I think it's very...

HOARE: I'm very encouraged by the fact that he is studying history of art because I would like to see him turn out to be a conceptual artist. I'd like to see him knocking around with Damien Hearst (ph) and putting sharks in tanks. I think that's a great idea.

I think the whole problem with the monarchy now is the image. You look at them today, they're parading through ascots, and they look like your mom and dad out on a picnic, and there's slightly that problem for...

HITCHENS: Not an ascot unless your mom and dad look very different from you.

HOARE: Well.

HITCHENS: The problem is not the image. The problem is not the image. The problem is that it is determined by the random selection of heredity. And there's an official absurdity imposed on our country and people, which is that they're the only family left in the land who have -- since the abolition of the Heredity Principal in the House of Lords -- to have political power by right of birth. And who would pick this family to select for that unique privilege? This dysfunctional rabble, who don't look like your mom and dad however much you say they do and never will look like them.

KING: Let me get a break and get -- let me get a break and get Kitty's thoughts on that.

HITCHENS: And certainly won't be...

KING: Hold on. I've got to get a break. We'll get Kitty's thoughts on that. And we'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Kitty Kelley, before we take our next call, what do you think of the Hitchens' point of view?

(LAUGHTER)

HITCHENS: Thanks a lot.

KING: Well, what do you think, Kitty?

KELLEY: I think it's outrageous and very, very funny. And I think seriously that we are putting William on the throne way before his time.

HITCHENS: We?

KELLEY: Yes. We.

LACEY: His great-grandparents have put him on the throne.

KING: Well, in other words...

KELLEY: I don't think we have to worry about William right now.

HITCHENS: We have no say in it. It's very important. Sorry to interrupt the angel (ph). We have no say in it.

KELLEY: Christopher, you told me once that a crown is a hat with holes.

KING: Well, why don't -- Christopher, let her finish the sentence. Go ahead, Kitty.

KELLEY: No, I mean... HITCHENS: I shall (ph).

KELLEY: Christopher is probably right that a crown is a hat with holes. And we don't know that it's going to sit on William's head. As we have been talking, there is great indifference in the country. And I -- I've maintained all along, the monarchy will continue and will continue because it readjusts, and reinvents itself.

KING: Lenoir. Let me get a call here. Lenoir, North Carolina. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. My question is for the panel. I was wondering if Prince William would be carrying on his mother's charity work.

KING: Yes, do we know that, Philip?

HOARE: I'm sure he will be. I mean that is one of the definitions of royal duties in a way, isn't it? But I don't know in exactly what respects. Who knows?

HITCHENS: Well, she may be...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One at a time.

HITCHENS: She resigned the leadership of most of the charities she was involved with when she ceased to be HRH, including -- I was amused to see her marriage counseling charity was dumped that day, so...

KING: Except she was very involved with land mines.

HITCHENS: That's...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Very involved with land mines.

HITCHENS: Well, you know what she has in common with a land mine?

KING: What?

HITCHENS: Well, it's just an old joke.

KING: OK.

HITCHENS: Easy to lay but very difficult to get rid of and very dangerous and expensive.

KING: Robert Lacey.

Poor joke.

Robert Lacey, hello. LACEY: Hello.

KING: Rochester, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I have a question for the panel. If Prince Charles were to marry Camilla, what would her title be?

KING: Aha!

HITCHENS: Great question.

KELLEY: Mrs.

KING: What would it be, Robert?

KELLEY: Mrs. It would be Mrs. William.

HITCHENS: Not if it was up to Camilla.

KING: Now, hold it. I asked Robert first. Robert.

KELLEY: Our apologies, Larry.

LACEY: That's what nobody knows, and that's why nobody knows if a marriage is going to happen. I just like to take up the point that Christopher is making is that we have no say over this. We have every say over this. Britain cut off the head of its king back in 1649. Since then, we have effectively been a Democratic republic and we choose to have this system which I can see that Christopher finds bizarre. But as recently as 1966, we actually...

HITCHENS: The Restoration wasn't chosen...

LACEY: In 193...

HITCHENS: Restoration wasn't chosen.

LACEY: It was chosen by the parliament at the time. It's not totally democratic, but it was the parliament of the time. As recently as 1936 we got rid of the man that was thrown out by the Hereditary Principal because of the woman that he wished to marry. We could do that with this couple we're just looking at now, Charles and Camilla. Indeed, if Charles insisted on marrying Camilla and the majority of people didn't like it and the government felt strongly enough about it, then they would get set aside. And -- and who would know what would happen after that?

But at end of the day, the -- at -- what Christopher finds difficult to deal with is that most people in Britain like this crazy system. I know we should grow out of it. But we haven't. Most of us like it and we like sitting around televisions talking about it and watching it. KING: Obviously. .

Ashland, Kentucky, hello.

LACEY: I'm sorry we're not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) human beings.

KING: Ashland, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question for the panel, has William indicated what career choice he would like to pursue upon his completion...

KING: Good question.

CALLER: ... and his art history studies?

KING: Do we know, Kitty?

KELLEY: A long time ago he said he'd like to be a curator.

KING: And we haven't heard anything different. Have we? Has anybody heard anything different?

HITCHENS: Yes. Well, his job that's next -- his job next is king but one, and it's chosen for him by his great grandparents, which is why we have met to have an argument. That's why -- why I disagree with Robert Lacey. He keeps saying "we choose" or the British people chose. The British people did not make Edward VIII abdicate. It was done by the Privy Council and the archbishop of Canterbury. The public had no say. It was just as well because he was on Hitler's side. The next lot were on Chamberlain's side. The British probably had no say in and no knowledge of that.

Either you think the head of government in the United Kingdom should be picked by hereditary principle or you do not. If you do think so, you could at least have the grace not to say that we've picked it when we've never been asked.

But when -- the chances are, if people were asked intelligently, they'd say at least they could outgrow it. Live without it.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with our remaining moments with our panelists right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Inverness, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'd like to know if William will have to ask the queen for permission to marry any particular woman he chooses.

KING: Kitty?

KELLEY: Yes, he will. They all have to ask the monarch, unless they're above the age of 25, and they still have to ask.

KING: And if she says no and they say yes, what happens?

What happens?

KELLEY: Down.

KING: No marriage? They're out?

KELLEY: No marriage.

KING: Well, they can get married but he's out.

LACEY: It would be exactly like the abdication.

HITCHENS: It wouldn't be a monarchy if it wasn't that absurd. It wouldn't be a monarchy if she wasn't the head of the national church.

The queen, I remind you -- let's just face the facts here. The queen by law is the head of government, head of state, the head of the national church, and the head of the armed forces. Can you imagine anything more preposterous than that?

Compared to that, the idea that you have to be middle-aged before you can ask her permission to marry someone who's also middle-aged is a minor absurdity.

The whole thing -- the whole thing is preposterous from start to...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: On the fact of it -- Philip, on the face of it, Christopher makes a lot of sense. Doesn't it look peculiar to -- taking a step back, doesn't this whole thing look a little weird?

HOARE: Absolutely, but then a lot of British history looks pretty weird if you look at it from that point of view.

I think -- I -- there's a lot of things which Christopher says which I kind of agree with and I kind of think that in a way that what is most threatening now to the monarchy is death by apathy, because we will just get -- actually we're not. In fact, the fact is that there aren't a lot of people like Christopher around, and that's kind of in an ironic sort of way, that will be what causes their downfall in a way.

KING: In other words, they're going to be...

LACEY: And of course, Christopher lives in America.

KING: Robert, you're going to need more Christophers over there, right?

HITCHENS: Yes, I think Christopher better come back here and support his cause, which is a perfectly legitimate one and can be argued out in the battle box. Just this one question of the consent to marriage, your poor listeners are asking these questions and then we start arguing about different things. I do feel for them. But I should just point out, yes, William would have to get his mother's permission, but that would be entirely contingent on the prime minister of the day.

The queen would say yes or no based on what is called technically "advice," which comes from the prime minister, who at end of the day, though Christopher doesn't seem to believe it, represents the majority of people in this country. He says yes or no.

Back in 1936, the democratic prime minister of the day said that. There was actually a vote in Parliament to say now we've got rid of the king, shouldn't we get rid of the system? I think there were seven people out of 700 of Christopher's opinion. It's a legitimate opinion, but it's got to win its place in the marketplace and not treat us all as infants.

KING: It's not going to happen, is it, Christopher, certainly not in the near future?

HITCHENS: Do you think John Major and Tony Blair should decide whether someone can get married or not? That's nonsense on stilts.

KING: Kitty, do you think we're ever going to see the end of it? I mean, ever? Certainly never say never.

KELLEY: Tonight you mean?

KING: No. In -- say, in this century, do you see any possibility of the end of the monarchy?

HITCHENS: This century?

KING: Yes, the...

KELLEY: 2000.

KING: The 21st century.

KELLEY: Yes. Yes, I do. I do.

KING: You do?

KELLEY: I think it will dwindle out. It will change so much that it will not be the monarchy of Elizabeth II.

KING: Ah. I thank you all very much. Sorry Chris was late, but next time he'll be here on time. We'll all get going from the beginning. And we wish Prince William a very happy 18th birthday, whatever -- wherever the road takes him.

Tomorrow night, capital punishment in Texas will be our topic. And by the way, an encore presentation of our interview with Tiger Woods on Saturday night. We invite to stay tuned now for CNN "NEWSSTAND," staying right atop the scene, following news 24 hours a day -- we do it all the time here on CNN.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Larry King. For all of our panelists, fare thee well. Good night.

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