My text is Philip Larkin’s famous poem:
They f*ck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
That’s William’s childhood for you. So why is he apparently pretty normal? How has he chosen and been chosen by such a solid, balanced and nice girl as Ms. Middleton? (That’s a fact. She has been with William for ten years, and navigated with total assurance between the dysfunctional royal family and the slavering hacks of the British tabloid press. She has the Right Stuff.)
There’s a puzzle in the Larkin/Freud theory, brought out in a later couplet:
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Adam and Eve messed up Cain; what chance did Enoch have? Five generations later, and Lamech is saying (Genesis 4:24, KJV):
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
So how come are we still here?
Modernize the paradox to Ug and Lucy 100,000 years ago in Africa, and it doesn’t go away. Augustine solves progressive deterioration by the double revelations of the Old and New Covenants. Aescyhlus gets Orestes out sane and free from under two psychopathic parents by the invention of Athenian criminal justice (with Athene’s divine thumb on its scales). Sigmund Freud proposes karmic freedom through costly and trademarked analysis. Apart from the little problem that analysis does not in fact work, the theory does not explain how humanity can have reached 1900 before neurotically autodestructing. (All right, it came very close in Freud’s century.)
William and Kate’s marriage suggests more prosaic explanations: regression to the mean and homeostasis. Parents tend to have more average children than themselves on any genetic dimension. Culture also tends to iron out anomalies: royal children may have strange parents, but these hire robustly normal nannies. And the mind, like the body, also has powers of self-healing (see Luria and Sacks).
Given half a chance, the psychic boat tries to right itself. One of the main ways it does so is through the choice of mate. Like cats and apes eating herbs when they are sick, we humans seek partners who will help us recover from the injuries we have suffered in our lives – from incompetent parents if we are unlucky. It looks as if William has done exactly that. God bless ’em both.