Power by Association









Power by association

Power by association is illustrated in most of the five branches of the current power hierarchies, for instance the Colonel’s wife takes precedence over the wives of junior officers and amongst them her word is law, but she gives no orders to the regiment. Even the Prince consort to a Queen must maintain a position discreetly in the background.

The spouse of a Prime Minister has the ear of her husband, but does not, unless she is an MP, speak in Parliament, for power by association can only be effective when subliminal. Of course, if the power holder is female then the roles are reversed. However, should these unspoken rules not be strictly adhered to the culprit becomes vulnerable to consequences which can result in being severely taken down a peg or two.


Down a Peg

Niccolô Paganini, master violinist and famous throughout Europe for his genius upon the instrument broke these rules and suffered the consequences. Having contracted an amorous liaison with the reigning Princess of a minor Bavarian state and composing some pieces dedicated to her, she granted him an honorary commission as Captain of the Palace Guard on condition that he would never wear the uniform in public.

Moving into the Palace however, he became dissatisfied with these conditions, which confined him to wearing the magnificent uniform only in the privacy of his chambers, where he spent much time strutting up and down before the mirrors. His opportunity came when the Princess gave a Grand Ball to which all the aristocracy of the Kingdom were invited.

The guests had all arrived and the Princess was on the point of signalling for the music to start when unaccountably the Palace Guards lining the room sprang ceremoniously to attention.

At this a hush fell over the guests and all eyes were turned, for there, standing at the top of the grand staircase stood Paganini, resplendently dressed in his glorious uniform as Captain of the Guard. He stood gracefully for a few moments and then began an equally gracious descent.

The Princess, her social integrity threatened, signalled for the music to start and hurriedly escorted her guests into the ballroom. Paganini however, on the instructions of the Princess was barred from entering; his uniform forcibly removed and then escorted to the back gate of the palace he was kicked out with instructions never to return.


Dave Tomlin
Art Nick Victor




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