Now, this is what you call a fireplace.

The guy in the green shirt is stoking the blaze in the kitchen at Hampton Court Palace, once home to King Henry the Eighth.

That's easily a forty-log fire, and back in the day it was kept burning 'round the clock,  because you never knew when the king might crave a roasted pig or two in the middle of the night. 

From what I hear, old Hank wasn't an "I'll be fine with a sandwich" kind of guy.  And nobody on his staff wanted to mess with a man who thought beheading was little more than an extreme haircut.

This 500-year-old palace is breathtaking, beautiful and overwhelming. Jaw-dropping brick work. Manicured gardens. Rooms with ceilings as high as the clouds.

Believe it or not, there's actually a dining room where select guests were permitted to sit around and watch King Henry gobble down his meals, so they could see how healthy his appetite was.

Lucky guests, eh?

Like any true-blue New Yorker, I start out being awed by the grandeur of a place like this, and then the awe morphs into resentment toward people born into royalty and its ridiculous excesses.

Why them?  Why anyone?

But this time, a funny thing happened.  As the heat from Henry's hearth warmed my hands and face, my mind took me to another place, 3500 miles from here.  A two-family brick house on Shepherd Avenue in Brooklyn, the place my grandparents called home.

It wasn't a palace.  They didn't even have a fireplace, and their garden was a small dirt patch with a ragged privet hedge.

My grandfather, Charlie Carillo, was a plumber.  Probably never made more than nine or ten grand a year, and managed to raise five strong kids on that money.

A lot of the credit for that went to his wife, Millie, who could stretch a buck from Atlantic Avenue to Highland Park. (Trust me, that's a long way.)

Every night at ten o'clock, they observed a ritual.  Charlie had a lifelong sweet tooth, so Millie would bring him a piece of cake and a cup of coffee. 

He didn't demand it.  He didn't even ask for it.  The goodies would simply appear in front of him, just as the closing credits of "Bonanza" were rolling.

His wife served him because she wanted to.  She didn't fear him.  She was grateful for what they had, and she loved the guy.

Know what that made my grandfather? A king.  A real king.

Take that, Henry.