Your RDA of Irony

It is National Incompetence Day–at least in Canada

Happy 387th Birthday to Prince Rupert!

Every family has an idiot; but among the Stuarts it was a challenge to be conspicuously stupid. Yet Prince Rupert achieved it. Oliver Cromwell should have written him thank-you notes. Rupert was the nephew of Charles I and, as a commander of his uncle’s army, the prince repeatedly would grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

Rupert was unquestionably brave. He would have made a splendid corporal. Unfortunately, as the King’s nephew, he was a general by birth–not ability. Commanding the royal cavalry, the dashing Rupert would lead irrelevant charges while the rest of the royal army was left to face Cromwell. Yes, Rupert won skirmishes but the Royalists lost the battles. After a series of such grandstanding calamities, the surviving members of the King’s court wanted Rupert to be courtmartialed. He certainly was no longer Uncle Charlie’s favorite nephew. Rupert was banished; at least he found France a pleasant alternative to Cromwell’s England. Uncle Charlie wasn’t that lucky.

Today, in Britain, Rupert has become a synonym for a reckless show-off. In Canada, however, a city in Canada is named for him. I can’t understand why. Incompetence is a dubious distinction. Imagine a community named for George McClellan or a conservative think-tank named for Herbert Hoover (There is?).

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