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Boring, tedious and detached from reality. I speak not of the relatively muted response to William and Kate’s engagement, but rather the over the top complaints about “royal wedding hype”. “The Royal Wedding: There’s no escape boomed” boomed the headline of a recent piece over at the New Statesman. The BBC meanwhile told of those who planning to leave the country to get away from it all. One commenter on the New Statesman proclaimed “I will be barricading myself in my flat on Friday, without as much as a radio on to escape it all.”
For heaven’s sake. Some people, it seems, love the idea that they are an Island of reason amongst a sea of flag-waving idiots. Yet sadly for them the sea has not materialised. If the numbers of applications are anything to go by there will be just a handful of street parties compared with previous big royal occassions. Converse with people, the wedding is hardly on everyone’s lips. I think more people have spoken to me today about Man Utd’s progress in the Champion’s league. Yes some of the media are getting into it, but compared with, say, the world cup this “hype” is minor. Admittedly non-football fans whine rather a lot during the 4 weeks out of every 4 years for which the world cup lasts, but they at least have the partial justification of genuine public excitement.
Monarchism in Britain has remarkably little impact on the general direction of politics. The huge crowds that stood to cheer the King and Queen at the end of World War II, and gushed over how they had stayed in London through the blitz, also voted in massive numbers for them most radical government this country has ever seen. Meanwhile the unease with the monarchy that followed Diana’s death didn’t seem to register a wider political echo in the great age of acquiescence that preceded the crash. Back in the day, the monarch did provide an ideological link between the nation and the empire. Indeed, Disraeli made Victoria the “Empress of India” precisely to achieve this. But today our empire essentially consists of Northern Ireland, the Falklands (which, to be honest we have a decent claim to be ruling by consent), and a few dots. We have bigger fish to fry.
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