x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Start of a royal race

"There is no chivalry in sport", Prince William told his bride after his team beat hers in a boat race. He still has to learn that there's no gloating in marriage, either.

Having led his team to victory over his wife's team in a rowing race during their tour of Prince Edward Island in Canada, Britain's Prince William was exultant, not least because this is a sport in which his wife Kate, now the Duchess of Cambridge, used to compete.

After winning, some say with the help of a slightly early start, the prince did not hide his elation, and told his bride "there is no chivalry in sport". That's true enough, as a glance at the business dealings of any professional sport will tell you. (We say nothing of officiating scandals.)

Still, the comment reminds us forcefully that the prince is a newlywed. Older hands at the marriage game might have advised him, had they been asked, that marriage is not a sport.

To be sure, there's little chivalry anywhere these days, if you use the word to mean a code of honour that demands punctilious conduct, especially towards the weak. To be sure, too, women have been fighting their way out of the category of "the weak", and many women today disdain the relics of chivalry formerly known as courtesy. When was the last time you saw a man stand up, for example, when a woman leaves or joins the table?

Equally, letting your wife win a boat race would be an unwelcome relic of a lost age. But gloating about beating her? As any married man would have warned Will, that's just asking for trouble.