By the Bee's Royal Correspondent, Andrew Gorton.
“Are you following the Royal Wedding today?” I asked the Scottish manager of my Norfolk village shop when I popped in on the day of the event.
“Why should I celebrate a family that raped and pillaged my family and forced them out of their country?” he replied, less than half-jokingly. “I've spoken with family in the Highlands, and their kids are not having a day off school there.”
This has probably been the only passionate, albeit negative, reaction to the Royal Wedding I have encountered so far. The prevailing attitude has seemed to be one of sublime indifference. (When I expressed my own less-than-lukewarm attitude on Facebook, it got several 'Likes.') Everybody is glad for the day off, but that appears to be the extent of their enthusiasm. On the other hand, I hope Wills and Kate have better fortune in married life than Diana had. I think some lessons from that marriage have been well marked for this one. Hopefully there will be no conspiracy theories surrounding this marriage, now or in the future. I'm fairly certain that Charlie is not planning to bump off his new daughter-in-law at some point in the next few years. Personally, I'm surprised there isn't a theory that says Diana and Dodi faked their own deaths and are living anonymously in South America with Shergar and Lord Lucan, or something. I am half-tempted to try and circulate that one, to see how many people buy it.
Across the pond, the Americans seem far more fascinated and enthused by the Royal Family than us Brits. (Certainly many of them seem to believe the “Diana was murdered” theory.) Considering that their nation was born as a result of successful revolution against the British Monarchy, it seems rather an odd attitude to have, exactly the opposite side of the coin to my Scottish acquaintance. Maybe it is the fact that the Scots failed in their uprising where the Americans succeeded that explains the difference? I'm not sure. Certainly the Scottish clans suffered more at the hands of the English kings than the American colonists.
In my opinion, the modern Royal Family are just another aspect of celebrity culture, but with more pomp and tradition. I am inclined to view this wedding as no different, really, than any other celebrity wedding, although with slightly more gravitas. There are certainly the screaming crowds and an overemphasis on what everybody is wearing, and inane waffle from news commentators. To be fair on the other hand, none of the Royals, with the possible exception of Kate, sought nor possibly desire their status in the public eye. I could sympathise with Prince Harry when he was pulled from front-line duty in Afghanistan. It must be frustrating not being able to do the job you wanted to to, and had undergone rigorous training for, just because of who your parents are. Also, watching films like The Kings Speech does humanise them for me.
Watching bits of the event today on the telly, I am sure it was not always like this for the royals. I have a picture in my head of the Saxons marching off to fight the Battle of Hastings to hysterical public adulation, with vapid commentary on Armour by Ralph de Lauren, and speculation on whether Harold is going bald under his Jeffrey of Portman Helmet. Then, a few days later, tabloid hysteria of this new bloke, William the Conqueror's questionable taste in interior decoration or something.
It is possible history may go full circle and the Royals will become more than just figureheads, but it is unlikely. I am sometimes prone to the cynical belief that this is pretty much a Bread-and -Circuses event, but in the end, I am sure it is a harmless and much needed diversion from an otherwise grim couple of years.