Letter of the week

<em>Letter of the week</em>

I am not sure whether John Lloyd's article ("Charles, the miserable sinner", 3 September) is a product of the "silly season" or is meant to be taken seriously. The present heir to the throne certainly has his idiosyncrasies, but I doubt whether they can seriously be attributed to the kirk's influence on him during childhood. Lloyd paints a lurid picture of a Church of Scotland of 40-odd years ago, still steeped in Calvinistic guilt, predestination, "auras of vengeful purity" (whatever they might be) and "a strain of vicious smugness" to boot. It certainly does not bear any resemblance to the kirk I attended.

In 1956, the Reverend George MacLeod was appointed as a chaplain to the Queen in Scotland. Famously left-wing, MacLeod was leader of the progressive, ecumenical Iona community and a prominent member of the anti-nuclear Committee of 100. It is most unlikely that he ever preached hell and damnation to the young heir to the throne.

If Charles has developed a tortured soul, as Lloyd alleges, it is more likely to be the result of the horrendous dilemma now facing him: how to square his relationship with the divorced Camilla Parker Bowles and his future role as king and constitutional head of the Church of England. As a republican, I have to confess to some amusement that a legal contrivance of more than 400 years ago to facilitate a royal divorce now precludes a royal marriage from taking place.

Ian K L Stuart
Enfield, Middlesex

This article first appeared in the 10 September 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Essay - The love of a robot