OK, well I’m up London — right now, in the Apple Store in Covent Garden — where I had intented to take some pictures of the scenes surrounding the royal wedding. I wouldn’t have done so otherwise, but my friend Claire Wade, who runs a company organising virtual holidays and other events for the house-bound, asked me to take some pictures and, if possible, send them to their Facebook event page. Sadly, I arrived near Parliament Square about 11:15am and the way was blocked at the junction with the Victoria Embankment. There was a space in between the police cordon and the square itself, and I couldn’t actually see what was going on in the square. Every way into the area was blocked, with a few people being allowed through the cordon (mostly away from the proceedings). Basically, only the dedicated few who got there early could even see what was happening, so you might otherwise have stayed at home and watched it on TV.
Trafalgar Square was even worse — there was a big green wall erected at the Strand end, and I don’t know what was going on there as it wasn’t on the procession route (which turned off Whitehall through an archway into Horse Guards’ Parade). I really regretted not writing to Claire and asking her for some sort of letter adressed “to whom it may concern”, explaining what I was doing. But I didn’t anticipate that I would be kept at such a distance such that I couldn’t take decent pictures of the event.
I’ve never been particularly fond of the monarchy, but I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool republican either; all of the most prominent republics have various myths that they like to repeat again and again, usually about “liberty” that turns out only to apply to some citizens and not others. But the expensive pageantry going on at a time when the most vulnerable people in society are having their much-needed services cut to the bone is pretty incongruous. Ironically, a lot of disabled people were watching the proceedings avidly and I’m not going to give political lectures to them, but if we are going to hold a big party at a time when the public are facing hardship, then it’s better that we can all go to the party rather than having to watch at a distance.
I was also pretty disgusted to hear that they had banned the two recent Labour prime ministers from attending, not because I was any great fan of either of them, but because they did invite Margaret Thatcher and John Major, the Conservative prime ministers from before Blair. I think there were technical reasons for whey they qualified and Blair and Brown didn’t (like membership of some obscure order), but let’s face it, the royals are a big land-owning family and guess which party big land-owning families generally support.
Also, I’m a bit apprehensive about what Kate Middleton’s (or Kate Mountbatten-Windsor, or whatever she is called now as the Duchess of Cambridge) life might be like once she’s actually married into the royal family. Big monarchies like ours tend to chew royal brides and spit them out, much like they did with Diana. I don’t suppose the royals are using her for a baby machine, as they did with Diana, or that it will be as oppressive an environment as the Japanese royal family proved to be when one of the heirs to the “Chrysanthemum throne” married a commoner a while back; the wife developed depression under that regime. But being a proper princess, let alone a queen, is going to be a much harder job, with a lot less personal liberty, than simply being a middle-class young woman from a wealthy family.
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