And I got involved. Yes, I really sucked it all up. What did it for me? Well, in retrospect, it was the way that the whole event stuck two fingers up to the modern hegemony of Leftism. From the choice of service, to the guest list, and to the magnificent coup-de-théâtre of the 'going away car' (more of which later), it was obvious that the event had not been paternalistically organised by Ken Livingstone, Harriet Harman and Greenpeace, but by the people involved, which must mean the couple themselves. And they did a fine job of stamping their authority on proceedings. Here's a couple of the things I noticed which impressed me and made me a minor monarchist for the day:
- The use of the 'old' words for parts of the wedding ceremony. I noticed "Our Father which art in Heaven", "in Earth as it is in Heaven", and "trespasses", instead of 'who' and 'on' and "sins", which are from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and not the later modernised and 'relevant' translations. Good for them, and I bet they had a fight with the Archbeard over that one. As an agnostic, I don't really believe in all that stuff but I am very particular about what I don't believe in, if that makes any sense.
- They looked genuinely happy and in love. I am not such an old cynic that I can't look at that and feel glad that they seem to have found the right person for each other. He seems a genuinely decent bloke (see previous post) and she looks like a feisty and capable woman (and a stunning looker as well), and I am sincerely happy for them. I was thinking of the stilted and downright awkward atmosphere of the last Royal Wedding, and how that turned very sour indeed, and I am optimistic for William and Kate. I doubt if she would put up with any tomfoolery for a minute, though - "Off with his Nuts!"
- The guest list. Oh yes, please, the guest list. Dave and Sam Cam were there, but as he is the serving Prime Minister that would seem to be merely protocol. Nick Clegg too. And - oh, joy, be still my beating heart - no sign of Tony Blair or Gordon Brown. No doubt the Palace would argue that protocol did not require past Prime Ministers to be present, but if that's the case then what was decent old John Major doing there? That absolutely has to be a deliberate choice, and perhaps even a deliberate snub. Brown, in his Calvinist way, will shrug it off as mere hedonistic frippery and be glad he didn't have to wear a suit and pretend to be civil for a day. But for Blair, the vainglorious Blair, that will hurt. Really hurt. I am so glad. Can you imagine the conversation? "Sir, I do feel it would be good form to invite all living Prime Ministers to the ceremony at least." "Brown and Blair? You are fucking joking, pal. No way are those Commie shysters coming to my wedding. If they are invited, the wedding's off. Capeesh?" I'm not sure which of the couple I would attribute those words to; either is believeable.
- The movement of the crowds after The Mall was opened. There were close on a million people there, all wanting to get to the front of the Palace to watch the couple's appearance. They were held back by a single line of policemen in normal uniform, no riot gear to be seen. The crowd moved forward briskly but under perfect control, and there was no running, pushing or shouting: a very 'British' scene. The contrast with the last time we all watched the Met dealing with large crowds - who were throwing fire extinguishers off buildings and smashing shop windows - was very pointed. What we have come to expect as normal crowd behaviour (aggression, violence, hatred, noise, destruction) is perhaps the aberration and this was the normal stuff. We can only hope. A remarkable day.
- That car. Yes, that car. What a masterstroke that was! Forget the nineteen-oh-something state landau and the tiptoeing horses. The couple emerge in a proper car. A British car, a sports car, a planet-destroyer, an Aston Martin DB6, in midnight blue. Prepped by brother Harry, with an 'L' plate on the front and a jokey number plate (JU5T WED for those that missed it) on the back. And of course the car belonged to Dad - which reminds us of all the normal people who have to borrow Dad's car for the honeymoon, and reflects well on Charles in a quiet sort of way. Who'd have thought the old plant-conversing Greenie kept a 1970 open-top Aston for fun and games? The only thing missing was a couple of noisy doughnuts in Horseguards Parade, just for the hell of it. A classic, vintage, British gentleman's sports car - genius, and pure class. I laughed out loud and punched the air when I saw it.
I think the overall tone was right. With all the Queen's resources at hand, it could have been anything they wanted it to be. Anything too elaborate would have been badly received and just plain wrong in a country enduring a recession, but anything too low-key and utilitarian would have been a massive disappointment to a massive number of people. It was pretty much on the button. The simple and elegant dress, compared to the Ice Cream Pavlova that Diana had to wear, was a good choice too. I thought she looked great.
You can't argue for a hereditary monarchy with a straight face, and I have always been a sort of pragmatic republican: a constitutional monarchy seems to work as well as any other system, and better than most, so let's not worry about something that isn't a problem. But the more I see of how we don't really have a democracy in Britain any more - how our laws are made in Europe by unelected bureaucrats, and our elected politicians are both powerless and useless, how they lie to get elected and once elected they lie and lie again, and how little real opportunity we have to say how we want things done - I'm beginning to wonder if a monarchy is really any worse than the alternative. When the Queen is no more, and if Charles decides to pass the Crown on to his son so he can spend more time with his plants, then I reckon the monarchy is in for a revival.
Imagine: a royal couple with traditionalist views and massive popular support, who are not afraid to withhold the Royal Assent to bills which give away our sovreignty, who will champion the causes that matter to the British people (rather than what the Westminster bubble thinks are important) - all bets are off.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I am not the only one. Perhaps this is the way we get our country back. Stranger things have happened.
One final thought and then I'll shut up. How remarkable were the crowds. Tom Paine and Anna Raccoon have both written excellent posts which talk about this, so rather than add to it I will just quote a little from them. Tom:
Watching the Royal Wedding, I could not help but wonder who all those people in streets of London were. Experiencing England, as I have, mainly through its media for the last twenty years, they seemed unfamiliar. They were clearly untroubled by envy, for example. They cheered the succession of impressive British motor cars (as well as the dowdy VW minibuses). Where were the Prius-driving prigs? Where were the equality fanatics? Where were the alienated youths, the anti-Christians and - for that matter - the aggrieved immigrants decrying the home culture (or lack of it)? Who were the polite people processing sedately behind a one-officer-deep police line to get a view of "the balcony scene?"And Anna:
Where were the angry scowling faces that fill our TV screens? The snarling youths throwing bricks through windows? The sneering commentators? The trade union funded bussed ranks of the public sector howling with rage at the notion that they might live within the country’s financial limits? Where were the black shrouded letter-boxes demanding their rights, lauding the ability of foreign brethren to part heads from shoulders? Crept back to their bolt holes for the day, utterly outclassed as middle England found its voice and came out to play on a summer’s day.We are the people of England, and we have not spoken yet.
OK, gush over. Normal cynicism will return shortly, once I have got all this face-paint off.