Sunday, 22 February 2009

Undercover Princes - BBC3 have hit the jackpot of crackpots!

If anybody has been keeping abreast of the latest and greatest of reality television may well be aware of a new show aired over the past 2 months here in the UK. The premise is actually very interesting: throwing unknown royals from around the world into a life of 'normality' in their quest to find a true love.

When I first came across this I wasn't quite sure if it was a total joke or was it serious. As it progressed I concluded it is an amalgamation of the two with excellent results...

The Royals:
We have three Princes, one from India, one from Sri Lanka (living in exile in the Netherlands) and Prince Afrika from Africa. Each one of these guys is different in so many ways yet they are remarkably similar.

The program followed them from their arrival into the UK, where they were put up in a modern apartment in Brighton. The idea behind Brighton is not quite clear, although the choice proved a stroke of luck for the Indian Prince, who is (at the beggining) not quite sure if he is gay or straight.

Crown Prince Manvendra ('Mani') is from one of India's richest royal families and in 2006 he shocked the world by becoming the first Indian royal to come out as gay. Will Brighton prove the perfect place for him to find his lifelong partner?

His Royal Highness Prince Africa Zulu is from Zululand ('Afrika'), South Africa. At 30, he should now have taken a wife, but having been burnt by love before it will take him a while to find his Mrs Right. How will this traditional prince cope with the liberal Brighton culture?

His Royal Highness Prince Remigius of Jaffna ('Remy'), Sri Lanka is looking for a queen to continue the royal line. But for a man raised in accordance to a strict protocol, only an aristocrat will do.

With Remy, he has this obsession with finding an aristocrat, a woman of "buloo bulud"(blue blood), and shares a typical fascination with the other princes of Lady Diana. They all love Diana, and other than Mani, who strives to be like her, are in search of their very own Lady D.

Mani, on the other hand, is quite confused as to what he wants initially - is he straight or gay, or perhaps he is just curious? It seemed pretty soon after that he did indeed wish to search for his very own Queen, and where better than Brighton?

Africa, came out of a painful relationship and boy is he a mistrustful fellow, every time he leaves a female after meeting, he begins a paranoia episode wondering if he's getting screwed for something. At this stage the women didn't even know if he is rich or not, yet this bit of rational thinking did not come to his aid. He is a religious guy who was quite likely tested by God himself when he was paired with a lap dancer on a romantic date... He was so sure the Devil was testing him. He began to talk about church and the Bible - a sure way of determining if the Anti-Christ is sharing a romantic boat ride down a river.

In their search to find their soul mates, they decided to throw a party at their apartment, and like peacocks they came out in their traditional dress - sure to impress a young fun-hungry female in Brighton. (unsuccessfully). However, Mani did manage to find his Queen, a typical camp Anglo-Saxon, very proud to have found his little black boy - someone to show off to and have nostalgic fantasies about in the future.

Inevitably there was some conflict with the Bible-bashing African Prince and Mani the morning after the first gay sexual experience, conveniently caught on BBC camera for the hardcore voyeur. Africa made damn sure to let Mani know he would burn in hell because that's what the bible teaches, and was even kind enough to quote a piece for the audience. By this time I had nearly pissed myself laughing out of disbelief.

One of the interesting stories which emerged was with Remy, who met a lovely girl from Brighton called Melissa. She was someone who quite easily have been someone from a very middle-class background, and as the story progressed, became endeared to the public with her warm and understanding nature, and her desire to find something special within Remy.

Something special about Remy is simple: He is a Prince without a people, yet he still believes he is doing everything for the good of his people. I can see how a royal living in exile in the Netherlands is very good for Sri Lanka, where there is a serious domestic conflict. There is a President as the head of State in Sri Lanka, so there is no royal family which has any right to claim. Therefore it beggars belief that Remy is deluded thinking he can score himself an aristocrat, and we have to wonder why the hell would a white upper-class woman have any desire to marry a brown boy from a banana kingdom. We know exactly what Prince Harry and his cronies think of Asian people: either referred to lovingly as 'Paki' or 'Sooty'... Yes, Remy, they'll be jumping over themselves for your hand in matrimony!

Eventually we actually begin to feel sorry for him when he enjoys his freedom and goes on dates, undertaking adventures he'd never before imagined - rolling down a hill in a giant plastic bubble. He wished he'd never been born a Royal. We also feel sorry for every woman that comes into contact with Africa, prime example of a blinder played by this particular prince was whilst speed-dating. He decided to break the ice with women with the best pick-up line... EVER:

"What would you change about British transport if you could?" Surely they wanted to jump into bed and have thousands of your babies with that question (but he can compliment!).

By the end of the series we saw the princes reveal their true identities to the women they decided to invite back to their palaces. The Brighton Queen went to India to see his to-be-King and was left with a bitter sweet masala in his pallet. Mani promised to be close to him, but he left him alone many times, and even when they were alone they barely held hand or gave a peck on the lips.

The Queen was broken hearted and perhaps shocked when Prince Mani took him to a lake where he goes to relax. Nothing weird about that you might think. However when he discloses his hobby of 'wildlife' (watching "...young men at the pool..." on an erection-spotting mission). I don't think the Queen was impressed. They parted as friends as the Prince could not give up his throne, after his father confirmed he was next in line to it. The Queen was no longer a Queen.

Remy invited 'Melisha' (formerly pronounced Melissa) back to the Netherlands, his exile home, and despite her best efforts to serenade him and make him into the guy he was in Brighton, it was inevitable that he would pick 'protocol' for his 'people' and continue to wait for the aristocrat he so longs for. It was a sad ending to something that may well have been the closest he came to finding someone a middle-class background - unfortunately the upper-class variety are out of his league.

The most hilarious of endings was definitely Africa's. He changed his mind last minute who he wanted to come and meet him in South Africa, and boy did the decision prove a mistake! Upon a visit with his lady friend to the graves of the British during the siege in colonial times, Africa was angered by the lack of memorial to Zulu deaths. He was less impressed when his date told him she is not ashamed of British colonial past. The frustration boiled over into the last day, when Africa arranged to meet his date at the beach. Out of common courtesy he decided not to show up, and by way of SMS, let her know he cannot make it on her last day. Not even a good bye. He was left paranoid (again) and decided there are more important things to life than love, and he was going to concentrate on them. I doubt one of them includes watching Michael Caine's 'Zulu'.

In the end it was a great series which captured the humour and the sadness of these very confused individuals who live in the belief they are special because of their title and their 'people' deserve them to behave in a way of protocol and ceremony, locked into their cultures and left with the inability to see reality and to embrace the chances they have.

I can't wait until the next series!

1 comment:

Laia said...

Melishaaaaaa! So cute. We will miss her deeply :-(
Great review - I expect weekly reports for the next series!