For the benefit of those of you who may have spent last week holidaying in an alternate reality, have been in a coma, or were too busy trawling the ‘dinner party circuit’ in search of a spouse, last Friday was the Royal Wedding. And gosh wasn’t it lovely? The 24 hour news media launched itself into a frenzy of increasingly bizarre reporting techniques to capture every detail of a much needed public spectacle amid all this boring talk of rising unemployment and voting reform.
My personal favourite was the lip reader employed by some publications to analyse the footage of celebrities entering the Abbey and delve further into their thoughts. Apparently the Queen thought John Rutter’s new anthem was ‘lovely’, William told Kate she was ‘beautiful’, and the Beckhams weren’t sure where to sit. In equally shocking news David Cameron, it can now be revealed, commented to Nick Clegg that his trousers had needed ‘letting out’, presumably because the Prime Minister has put on a little weight or – as some commentators asserted – he had just caught sight of Pippa Middleton.
It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that there has been criticism of this lavish media attention in the midst of presumably more important things, such as the economic recovery or Middle Eastern uprisings. Take this and the fact that the wedding’s four day bank holiday has been estimated at costing up to £2.9 billion for the UK economy (£20 million alone going to policing the event) and the party poopers have a point. On the other hand, we don’t spend money on parties because they are sound financial investments, we do it to have fun and make ourselves more popular. Anyone else who delighted in last Friday’s legitimisation of 2pm drinking or who spent the day in a wedding dress fulfilling their marriage fantasies can surely agree that it was indeed a lot of fun. As a testament to its popularity, Obama supposedly delayed the capture (I mean execution) of Bin Laden so as not to clash with the wedding, and he’s pretty cool so I’m sure that makes us popular.
On a more serious note, this was a public national celebration, a much needed injection of pomp and circumstance and stirring chorale music in an otherwise depressing climate. The marriage of our future King does matter, and certainly warrants our attention, as the Monarchy plays an extremely useful unifying role in the national psyche. I accept that most people might reject the belief in the divine right of Kings, but this man is still our future head of State, the head of our armed forces, the man who calls our governments and the most powerful diplomatic tool in the UK’s arsenal. Besides which, for the most part, the wedding made people happy. Frankly a bit of escapism is worth some public expenditure and a hung over Saturday.
Compare this to yesterday’s referendum and regional/national elections. A poster for the ‘No to AV’ campaign was particularly offensive, depicting a vulnerable premature baby with the statement ‘she needs a new cardiac facility not an alternative voting system’. We’re apparently being led to believe that a new voting system will mean more dead babies, presumably part of Nick Clegg’s evil master plan. I do believe in politicians and their genuine desire to improve our lives, but as long as we the public are patronised and left so bereft of genuine conviction, you can hardly accuse the Royals of wasting our attention. Free our politicians from the constraints enforced by a media ready to hound them on any mildly interesting or controversial action or statement, and then we might have a source of inspiration to rival Royal romance.
Besides, Princess Beatrice had a really silly hat and that was, like, totally lolz.