Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

[The Slingshot] Did Marcos Jr. really play polo with Prince Charles?

Antonio J. Montalvan II

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

[The Slingshot] Did Marcos Jr. really play polo with Prince Charles?

Marian Hukom/Rappler

'The Marcos mythical yarn of royal friendship is just social climbing, at our own expense'

Should media report the exact words the President said in public? It should.

Should media crosscheck data across other available sources to determine if what he said was true? No doubt, it should. If he lied, should media point that out? Absolutely it should.

But most media didn’t.

At the press interview he gave in Washington DC where he was asked about his trip to London to attend the new British monarch’s coronation, the transcript recorded the spontaneous lines he uttered:

BBM: “One of the most important reasons why I will go is we know Prince Charles, as how I knew him them.”

London News Correspondent’s Voice: “Marcos Jr. was first introduced to the British royal family as a young boy in September 1970 when his mother, then first lady Imelda Marcos, took him to the Buckingham Palace to pay a courtesy call of (sic) Queen Elizabeth II. The Marcos scion then lived in London for several years when he studied at the Worth Abbey prep school, and eventually enrolled at the Oxford University. Philippine ambassador to the United Kingdom Teddy Locsin Jr. earlier claimed that Marcos Jr. used to play polo with then Prince Charles.”

BBM: “When Queen Elizabeth died, I was not able to go. And so I sent my sister Irene who Prince Charles also knows. So I said, because we know each other and it is a big deal that he will be crowned as king of the United Kingdom, I should be able to attend.” (Note: On the line about Irene Marcos Araneta, the original Tagalog line was, “Ang pinadala ko ay ang kapatid kong si Irene, na kilalang-kilala rin ni Prince Charles.”)

The line “we know Prince Charles” (“kilala namin si Prince Charles”) was also recorded by another television network, and yet by another news program, repeating the falsehood that Marcos Jr. had met the British royal family and had played polo with Charles. A print media broadsheet also used the same lines (“the president’s familiarity…with Charles himself, whom Marcos said he personally knew.”)

What are the facts? The facts come from declassified British intelligence cables that were released to the media in the year 2001. Since then, a host of media organizations worldwide have referenced the information because of its titillating topic – the Imelda Marcos demand to see Queen Elizabeth.

The year was 1970 and British diplomats were apprehensive on what to do with a most difficult request from Imelda: she wanted to pay a courtesy visit to the Queen who was vacationing in Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

British secret cables were on point about her: “She tends to behave impulsively and thoughtlessly when abroad, showing neither consideration, nor social discipline, nor even an elementary awareness of public relations.” The first problem about her request was the Queen’s schedule. As a rule, the Queen very rarely received courtesy callers while in Balmoral. The family-owned castle was her happy place where she chilled out from state duties.

Imelda thought the world was as pliant as what they had made of the Philippines. The most difficult part of her demand was that she wanted it publicly announced that it was the Queen who had sought an audience with her.

She had another request: she demanded that she bring along her 12-year-old son who had just entered Worth Abbey prep school. Again, that was taboo per the Queen’s rules. As a norm, the Queen in solo received courtesy callers solo. After all, this was not in the course of an official state visit.

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British ambassador to Manila John Curle knew that in the Philippines nobody says no to Imelda Marcos. “She acts like a spoilt beauty queen,” he advised the British Foreign Office. Even Imelda’s own brother Benjamin (Kokoy) had warned: “My sister is completely uncontrollable.”

Probably amused by such childish antics, the Queen relented, but had the courtesy call at Buckingham Palace instead of at Balmoral, on September 11, 1970. Today, Marcos Jr. makes it sound like he and his mother had met the entire British royal family. There was nothing of that sort. He lies.

His get-go makes it sound like he and Charles became friends on that day, as if they played hide and seek in the palace’s rooms. He was 12 years old, Charles was nearing 22. They did not belong in the same age group. Never has there been news ever from the very prying British press that the Marcos son and his sister Irene were often seen in the company of the British royal family. Nothing escapes Fleet Street snooping.

On the contrary, British diplomatic channels as well as intelligence sources were in the loop about what the Marcos children were up to in London. They knew they had purchased properties in Berkeley Square/Duchess of Bedford Street. Declassified documents said, “The property was bought by Marcos’ son.” In October 1983 for example, Prince Philip canceled a trip to Manila to attend the meeting of the International Equestrian Federation. The reason: the assassination of Ninoy Aquino and the need to avoid the appearance of support for the Marcos regime.

After the Marcos ouster in 1986, the British Foreign Office continued to have the goods on the Marcoses. Robin McLaren, then the British envoy in Manila, warned British officials in Hongkong (then British territory) that the island’s Hangseng Bank was a conduit of the transfer of “substantial US dollar funds from New York” for remittance to Marcos accounts at Security Bank in Manila. McLaren gave the information to the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

So where was the chummy friendship with kilalang-kilala Prince Charles? Our current ambassador to London Teddy Locsin Jr. then embellishes the fairy tale further by saying the Prince and Marcos Jr. played polo together. Where? When? Was Marcos Jr. even known to engage in sports apart from his partying? Locsin is a master of hyperbolical imaginations, his legacy from the Duterte kakistocracy for whom he had to do much exaggerations. His statement should be taken as propaganda, nothing more.

Let us not be kind. Public interest is involved here. The trip is taxpayers’ money (also in London were Sandro, Simon, and Vincent Marcos, and Irene Marcos Araneta). The Marcos mythical yarn of royal friendship is just social climbing, at our own expense.

Media should be extra cautious about reporting Marcos claims by putting them into context. Without vigilance, it is complicit in disinformation. – Rappler.com

Antonio J. Montalván II is a social anthropologist who advocates that keeping quiet when things go wrong is the mentality of a slave, not a good citizen.

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