Al and Prince Charles — Two Would-Be Kings?

Why is Al Gore not having any success endearing himself to the American people?

May 25, 2000

Why is Al Gore not having any success endearing himself to the American people?

Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir-apparent to the British throne, is in many ways remarkably similar to his big American brother. For starters, both men were born in 1948 — and they share the burden of an illustrious ancestry. Admittedly, Charles’ pedigree is better documented, older — and, to most people, more impressive than Al’s.

But while Al Gore portrays himself as a good ol’ native son of Tennessee, he was really born the son of a prominent U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. Just a few months later in 1948, the prince was born in Buckingham Palace, the symbol of Britain’s old imperial power. As children, each boy had to contend with a fair share of absentee parenting. Al’s father was busy politicizing on Capitol Hill, with his wife constantly joining him for receptions and other moves in career advancement.

Charles, on the other hand, fell victim to the British royal parenting system. It became infamous when, after the Queen’s return from an overseas trip, the world witnessed the little boy standing in a formal receiving line to greet his mom, along with the Prime Minister, the head of the royal household, and so on. She greeted him — with a hand-shake, same as everybody else. The four-year old never overcame the trauma. Schooling was not very different for either one of them with everybody knowing who your parents were.

But the parallels do not end there. Add soldiering to the list, for example. Gore was on active duty in Vietnam. Charles still holds ranks in all three arms of service in the British military and is a qualified pilot.

In politics, the environment is right on top on both of their agendas. Actually, both have even written a book about it. Gore published “Earth in Balance” and Prince Charles wrote “Highgrove: Portrait of an Estate,” about the prince’s rural retreat in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, where he indulges in environmentally friendly farming.

The bit about charming the American people hasn’t really been working out well for Al Gore, so far. Dropping suits for khakis didn’t help very much. In merry old England, Charles faced similar problems when the nation blamed him for Diana’s emotional problems.

This is where the prince’s advice might come in handy. Since his divorce from Lady Diana and her death in Paris in 1997, Charles had a complete and successful image make-over. Instead of him being portrait as a cold emotionless man, people now seem to regard him as caring father and don’t even blame him for his liaison with Camilla.

Trouble is, in Al’s case, Tipper may truly be the better half. As she proved on Larry King Live a few weeks ago, appearing with her husband, she evidently has a much keener verbal ability in interviews to score political points dynamically, convincingly and charmingly.

Perhaps Al Gore should consult His Royal Highness over a cup of tea. If the Brits were able to find PR people that practically turned around the prince’s image, it should not be too hard to find someone who could do a little PR work for Al. This is Hollywood country, after all, and a story of a lonely prince turned prince charming would be very appealing.