vive le republique
To completely misquote latter-day US film & TV bombshell Mae West “Marriage is a fine institution but I’m just not ready for the institution of monarchy!”
No, my problem’s not Harry and Meghan (we gingas have gotta stick together), my problem’s the monarchy. And when it comes to royal events, especially one relieving the public purse of £32,000,000.00, it’s this institution that remains in the dock. It could of course have been done quietly and, God forbid, privately, but to be the effective and powerful symbol it needed to be, it had to be supersized, in glorious technicolour. As any Corrie regular will tell you, the easiest way to crank-up the viewing figures is to regularly marry or kill someone off and this highly scripted, overly dramatic, ham-acted royal event was designed from the onset to renew the monarchy’s sense of legitimacy and dupe us of its relevance. In short, it keeps us tuned-in and on-side.
Of course I tug my forelock to the fact that the Duchess of Sussex is a divorced, mixed race American who had a proper job and once paid her way but the newlyweds are far from being radical: they face no struggle financially; their 21-room marital apartment in Kensington Palace ensures finding somewhere to live won’t weigh heavily on their young minds; student debt will trouble no offspring; childcare will never be an issue; inheritance tax won’t ever feature in a presentation from their IFA.
I get the fact that I’m in the minority here as more than half of my fellow Britons consider the monarchy good for the country but, courtesy of the Russian & French revolutions, monarchies have fallen foul of the will of the people. Our very own House of Windsor cunningly rebranded itself from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha sometime during the first world war in order to avoid such a calamity. Contrary to the ‘tourist dollar’ I see no shortage of high-rollers selfie-snapping in Red Square or strolling down the Champs Elysees. Are we such a one-trick-pony? Mind, having said that, with our latest own-goal I suspect we’ll need every string to our bow to keep people wanting to visit us, including harking back to the empire. Today Champagne. Tomorrow back to Brexit.
Call me a killjoy but I rather prefer being a citizen than a subject. I wish the happy couple well and trust they enjoyed their Marie Antoinette-approved lemon sponge with elderflower buttercream, the institution I wish ill. If nothing else, the royals are a class act, literally & metaphorically.