(May 10, 2023). With the crowning of King Charles III in England this past weekend, many eyes were on the new monarch’s two sons: Prince William, himself a future heir to the throne; and Prince Harry, the “Spare,” as he called himself in a recent bestselling autobiography.
One son is a future king. The other an expatriate who returned only briefly to his native U.K. to obligingly attend his father’s coronation…the first such ceremony there in 70 years.
Indeed, only one prince knelt before the new king and pledged to honor him forever.
The other caught the first flight back to Cali in a country whose only connection to the British monarchy—aside from its centuries-old colonization of this land and a subsequent war it fought to keep the U.S. from becoming the U.S.—is the fascination that comes with all of its outdated pageantry and pomp and circumstance…oh, and the salaciousness with which American journalists—just like everyone else—have covered all things Windsor for centuries.
But in a not-so-distant time—30 years ago—there were two completely different princes that captured the hearts and imagination of America…and, unlike last week, both of those princes knelt before their “majesty.”
It was in “Two Princes,” the upbeat rock tune (described as “crunchy” by some critics back then) by alternative rock group Spin Doctors from their multi-platinum 1991 debut album Pocket Full of Kryptonite.
You may remember it well. The song was rock’s take on the old “The Girl Is Mine” love-battle pop theme from ten years earlier, except in this case, one person did all the talking (Spin Doctors’ lead singer Chris Barron) and it was only his point of view—a rather caustic one—that gets heard.
In the song Barron takes on the role of a pauper prince, one who questions the intentions of his counterpart and the means by which the more popular and richer prince acquired his wealth.
He gets right to the point from the start, beginning with the opening line counting up the number of suitors at this princess’ feet.
“One, two princes kneel before you,” Barron begins before describing what each prince would bring to the table and explaining why our protagonist—the pauper prince—was more marriage material than the one bringing his “princely racket.”
Barron then proceeds to further defame the richer prince, suggesting that his bling is all a part of that racket (a crime connection) and that his status wasn’t the result of anything honorable. The protagonist notes the “big seal upon (the rich prince’s) jacket” implying that this prince might be a varsity letter-wearing school jock, while the singer languishes at the rejects’ table wondering if he’ll ever get the chance with their mutual love interest: the princess.
Several parallels can be drawn between these “Two Princes” and today’s most famous two British princes, William and Harry.
In the hit song, the more popular prince was one to be honored—a royal subject with “diamonds in his pockets” whose union with the princess would gain her father’s vote of approval.
Recently, Prince William was voted as being among the most popular British royals, one who certainly has his own father’s stamp of approval after pledging his unwavering support for the monarch in his kneeling ceremony Saturday (May 6).
On the other hand, the pauper in “Two Princes” points out his lack of a “future or family tree” and that the princess would likely lose her father’s endorsement if she chose him to marry.
Unless you’ve been buried under a rock the past five months, you don’t need to be reminded that Prince Harry has been on the outs with the Royal Family, begrudging a “spare” status imposed merely by his own place in the family tree.
And just like the song’s protagonist did with the rich prince 30 years ago, the red-headed royal—for whom the term “ginger” might take on multiple meanings—has taken more than a few potshots at his older brother—the Prince of Wales and future King—in his continuing crusade as the underdog Duke of Sussex.
It is indeed the younger prince who alleges that his father, King Charles III, essentially disowned him for doing the very thing that the lesser prince in “Two Princes” is asking his princess to do: marry someone from the wrong side of the tracks.
In Harry’s case that would be yankee Meghan Markle, the woman responsible for infusing some unlikely melanin in a family historically devoid of it. One might imagine his proposal to the former actress, while kneeling before her and noting his father’s future disapproval: “c’mon forget the king and marry me.”
No one could have imagined that the circumstances described in a pop song from 30 years ago could be paralleled with the events of today. Back then, William and Harry were just 10 and 8 years old. The only princess whose affection they were likely competing for was that of their late mother, Princess Diana of Wales, who died in an automobile crash four years later.
“Two Princes” reached the top ten of the Hot 100 (No. 7 here in America) in Spring 1993, and topped the Mainstream Top 40 Airplay chart in Billboard for seven weeks, culminating with the magazine’s May 22, 1993, issue.
At several points during its run it was the only non-R&B/hip-hop representative in the Hot 100’s top ten, a sign of both Black music’s growing dominance and the Spin Doctors’ ability to forge ahead with an undeniably catchy pop tune in such a daunting environment.
The upbeat tune was all over American pop and rock radio and MTV, where it played in heavy rotation for months. The single’s success buoyed sales of Pocket Full of Kryptonite, propelling it from a barely-top 30 album to a No. 3-peaking, five-million-seller in very short order.
It was a blast of feel-good, pure pop, with a relentless shuffling backbeat and those crunchy guitars that wouldn’t quit, along with a scat by Barron thrown in for good measure.
That was exactly 30 years ago (and nearly two years after its parent album was first released).
In the 30 years since “Two Princes” was a hit, the band Spin Doctors would continue to record albums and tour (although they disbanded briefly in 1999 before reuniting in 2001).
They would never have another top-40 hit on the Hot 100 after their princely biggest hit single. Their last album was 2013’s If The River Was Whiskey, which failed to even make the Billboard 200.
As for the more famous two British princes, each man has grown up and found their own princesses, with each one charting their own royal (or non-royal) paths: one as a future King of England, the other a royal spare who maybe can take solace in being the equivalent of a musical protagonist who knew “what a prince and lover ought to be.”
Still, can’t you just imagine what the Royal Family’s reaction was to Harry when he first announced his plans to move himself and Meghan Markie to America a few years back?
My dibs are on: “just go ahead now!”
DJRob (he/him/his), who believes his Purple Majesty is still America’s most important Prince, is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.
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