Kevin Cullen

Royals throw a curve ball

My legion of readers — OK, three of them — have been urging me to make sport of all the knuckleheads who actually care about the birth of the royal baby.

Now, normally, I’d flock to that like seagulls to spilled French fries at Kelly’s on Revere Beach. I’ve never been a fan of royalty, be it secular or religious.

And while not proud of this, I have, like Paula Deen, used language I now regret. I have, in private conversation, referred to Prince Charles, the expectant grandfather, as “Big Ears.”

I inherited this prejudice. My father was a republican and antiroyalist, though he had no truck with the IRA. I grew up hearing him refer to British aristocrats as “royal welfare clients.”


Funny how life can challenge your biases. I was in the Republic of Ireland when Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to visit. She strolled the Garden of Remembrance, dedicated to Irishmen and women who took up arms against the Crown. She reflected at Croke Park, where British forces slaughtered innocent civilians in reprisal for the IRA’s assassinations of British agents in 1920.

The queen handled herself with utter class and charmed the Irish. The only criticism I could level was not at her, but at her consort, Prince Philip. Handed a perfect pint of Guinness, the prince admired it and put it down, never taking as much as a sip. It was then that I understood why some Irish republicans refer to the royals as wasters.

But the point is, up until then, I had dismissed the queen and the whole royal family as an antiquated institution devoid of any real meaning or purpose in the modern world. Her visit to Ireland proved me wrong.

More recently I was in Washington, and invariably when I’m there I visit my pal Lieutenant Colonel Matt St. Laurent. He’s a New Hampshire native who helps run the amputee clinic at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, and he is a great American. Matt and his staff work with wounded warriors, and if you ever want to be humbled, sit down with some of these kids who have literally given an arm and a leg for their country.


On my most recent visit, Matt and the wounded warriors were telling me about their new best friend: Prince Harry.

Prince Harry dropped by the clinic and hung out with the soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors. It wasn’t a celebrity photo opportunity. Prince Harry is a soldier himself, and his empathy and concern for the American kids he met were so genuine that no one wanted him to leave.

So how can I begrudge Wills and Kate and their soon-to-be-born baby when soon-to-be Uncle Harry embraced our wounded warriors and they embraced him back?

Life throws you curve balls, which is a lousy metaphor to segue into another personal dilemma.

I have never liked the New York Yankees. It’s a Boston thing.

And then, those losers from Loserstan or wherever put bombs on Boylston Street on Patriots Day, hoping to kill, maim, and divide. They did the first two things, but failed miserably at the third.

And if you needed any evidence, it was on display in Yankee Stadium that awful week, when people stood in the Bronx and sang “Sweet Caroline” to show solidarity with the people of Boston.


A couple of days later, there was a beautiful message of solidarity on my voicemail from Mindy Levine, the wife of Yankees president Randy Levine.

The Bronx Bombers are in town for a weekend series. I can’t exactly give them a Bronx cheer. So I asked my pal, New York Times columnist Dan Barry, a native New Yorker who lived in New England for 11 years, for advice.

“In times of catastrophe and terrorism, Boston and New York will always be there for each other, out of mutual respect and love,” he said. “But in times of baseball, all bets are off.”

Thanks, Danno. Bring it on.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com.