Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Fairytale Wedding? What Nonsense! Hear Hear Old Chap

A German's eye view of the Wedding and the Windsors

A Fairytale Wedding? What Nonsense!
A German Journalist's Royal Frustration

The wedding of William and Kate on Friday will be a joke, a hopelessly overhyped celebration of an absurdly undemocratic system, writes SPIEGEL London correspondent Marco Evers. He pities the bride for her imminent loss of freedom, and wonders why this eccentric nation continues to worship the Windsors.

The whole thing feels like an aberration of history.

It's wrong if the head of state of a country can only come from one family. It's wrong to furnish this clan with palaces, land and all manner of grants to spare its members the indignity of having to earn their keep and enable them to live in luxury. It is wrong to address the Windsors and, from next Friday the delightful Kate Middleton as well, as Your Royal Highness or even Your Majesty. It is wrong to see them as anything other than people made of flesh and blood, like you and I.

Millions of Britons know that. The Guardian newspaper wants to abolish the monarchy, as does the Independent and the Economist magazine. Many professors, film directors, writers, actors and politicians would like Britain to become a republic -- but they remain in the minority which for years has been constant at around 18 percent of the population.

Cherie Blair, the difficult wife of the former Prime Minister Tony, once refused to curtsey in front of the old Mrs. Elizabeth Windsor, but the majority of Britons enjoy doing that, and much more, for Queen and Country. The Windsors are Europe's most expensive royal family, but the people go on paying, without grumbling, at least as long as Queen Elizabeth remains alive.

The Queen Owns all the Swans, Whales and Sturgeons

But Great Britain is a strange country. It has no written constitution but a rigid class system. The lawyers wear wigs in court and there are no citizens, just subjects. By law, all swans, all whales and all sturgeons are the property of the Queen, but there's no British national football team.

And if the Queen wishes to award an honor to one of her subjects, he can proudly call himself "Officer" or even "Commander of the Order of the British Empire." What on earth do these titles actually refer to? Much in this realm seems at least as antiquated as the London Underground.

British soldiers are fighting for democracy in Afghanistan and Libya, and they fought for it in Iraq. But at home, they defend the absurdly undemocratic idea that nobody but a Windsor can be head of state. As soon as Elizabeth, 85, shuffles off her mortal coil, her son Charles, 62, already worn down by his long wait for the accession, will take the throne, even though opinion polls show the majority of Britons don't want the brooding, esoteric prince to become king.

The pomp and ceremony surrounding the marriage of William and Kate is the latest expression of British eccentricity -- but a large part of the world appears to be succumbing to it as well.

Yes, the carriages of gold and velvet look pretty, the bride's train will be a sight to behold and Westminster Abbey is quite a spectacular backdrop for the ceremony. But is it really worth all the fuss? More than 10,000 journalists are descending on London. The German networks ARD, ZDF, Sat.1, RTL, n-tv and N24 will hardly be broadcasting anything else on Friday. Everyone is pretending that this spectacle is the most important and beautiful event on earth -- but it is not.

Oddly, the British public isn't as interested in the wedding as one might think. Most Britons say they don't really care about the event. Only about a third of them plan to watch the show on TV. And, compared to previous royal nuptials, relatively few of them plan to take part in the traditional street parties. In the center of London, hotels have plenty of spare rooms even though they have been offering discount deals for the weekend.

Millions of British subjects already fled the island on budget airlines before Easter and are now populating the beaches of Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt or the Caribbean. The weather there is guaranteed to be better than in London, where heavy rain is forecast for Friday.

Britain is still mired in its worst economic crisis since World War II. Everyone should be rolling up their sleeves to haul the nation out of the doldrums. But the government declared the wedding day a public holiday, and schools, banks, offices and factories will be closed -- just because the heir to the heir to the throne is getting married. The extra holiday may lead to increased turnover in the nation's pubs, but it will end up costing the economy billions.

A Wedding Dictated by Palace Protocol

In truth, the marriage of William and Kate is a sad spectacle. Two young people aren't getting wed in the way they would like but how the palace, protocol and granny demand it.

William, 28, is accustomed to that because he was born into it. But for Kate, 29, Friday will mark the end of her freedom. For her parents, it will be a bit like the death of their daughter. She won't belong to them anymore -- she will be elevated to some form of distant, aristocratic human being, forever unavailable for that impromptu dinner with Mum and Dad.

Fairytale wedding? No way.

Some friends and relatives will be present in Westminster Abbey, but most of the guests will be strangers, and some of them will be repulsive ones at that. King Mswati, the despot of the impoverished African nation of Swaziland who has 13 wives, will be flying in with his entourage of 50 people. Arab potentates have also been invited, some of whom are currently having pro-democracy demonstrators shot at in their streets. Who would want to get married in such company?

Half the British cabinet is coming, along with opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband, who bears the grand official title "Leader of her Majesty's Loyal Opposition." Former conservative Prime Minister John Major will be present. But the last two Labour prime ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, have not been invited. Is that their punishment for having supported the ban on fox hunting? Why should the autocratic Sultan of Brunei get invited and not the two previous leaders of a democratically elected British government?

The whole world is waiting to admire Kate's wedding dress. The designer will be inundated with work after this. But the wearer of the dress faces a future that shouldn't really be desirable for an intelligent woman in the 21st century. Kate will have only three tasks from now on: serving her husband, looking good and bearing children, preferably boys. Apart from that, all she has to do is shut up.

It's like in the 1950s -- only much worse because she will have to continue curtseying to the Queen and other higher-ranking members of the family she has married in to.

The whole thing feels even worse than just an aberration of history. It's a joke. Spiegel

A report from Oz.

Banning the Chaser and bringing on a Republic

Just when you might have thought that things were looking a bit bleak for the Australian Republic, along comes the Chaser and heavy-handed royal censorship to remind us all why it’s so vital we become a Republic. David Donovan comments.

The royals have been in PR overdrive mode since Prince William visited Australia in early 2010. It is blatantly apparent that they see Prince William as the fresh marketable face of the royals. This is because, apart from the Queen, there is pretty much no-one else suitable to sell. The Queen, of course, is venerable, but she’s also 85 now and slowing down. Prince Harry with his partying and Nazi fancy-dress is probably out of the question. Prince Edward is just not attractive or saleable. Princess Anne, apparently prefers to spend more time with horses than humans; hardly appropriate. Prince Andrew, who is a close friend of tyrants, criminals, abusers, and receipient of Azerberjani largesse. Nope. Prince Phillip, who is a gaffe-prone racist and even older than the Queen. No chance. Or King Charles and Queen Camilla? The monarchists dread that day ever coming, though coming it rapidly is.

No, it is William and this wedding and all the preceding PR is meant to remind us, through him, about how wonderful and “normal” the Windsors are. It is an obvious myth, given the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha clan’s obscene wealth, power and by the alarming fact that William is just about the only decent and respectable one in the entire brood. Nevertheless, this has been the implausible message the Palace’s 130-odd strong PR team have been tasked with getting out into the public domain and they had, in the main, been doing a reasonable job. more


Anonymous said...


"...Prince Harry with his partying and Nazi fancy-dress is probably out of the question. Prince Edward is just not attractive or saleable. Princess Anne, apparently prefers to spend more time with horses than humans; hardly appropriate. Prince Andrew, who is a close friend of tyrants, criminals, abusers, and receipient of Azerberjani largesse. Nope. Prince Phillip, who is a gaffe-prone racist and even older than the Queen."

Perhaps a rude question Himself, but what is your view of the Wedding and the Windsors.

Anonymous said...

btw, did you know that it was impossible to post comments for almost a day, due to Blogger errors. M

Himself said...

Liberty fraternity equality.

Where's me knitting?

I was unaware, I was out for the day until quite late.

By the by, given her looks, shouldn't that be, hardly inappropriate?


Anonymous said...

The British media works in cahoots with the Palace. The French do not. Kate’s mistake was going topless in France. Had she done it in the UK, you never would have known about it…

Himself said...

Yawn, I'm sorry, but yawn.

Anonymous said...

Good evening H

Though the patience of the "not a movie buff" has been tested, it’s a very interesting film.

I never took much interest in the modern-day British (also non British) royal family and the Diana case unlike a few of my female acquaintances whose interest largely has to do with a romantic image, based on tabloid news, papers and that book written by her butler which I haven’t read. For most Dutch, I guess, Diana was just a refreshing person in the distant and stiff British royal family.

But of course I did form the inevitable opinion. I remember, I was wondering why she’d married so young to a much more "life experienced" man. I didn’t find Diana particularly interesting, but she was obviously in love with Charles. As for Charles I assume he liked her, she was young, representative, healthy and she could provide an heir. All in all, two characters having almost nothing in common.

I also thought that Diana was accustomed to living in high circles with all the additional phenomena and insanity. I still cannot imagine she and surely her family were totally naive, but then again, that’s only my opinion, based on nothing more than my thoughts.

My knowledge and interest has increased by your film link and the documentary in your Royal Babylon post.

To me the case remains a matter of perception, but I can well imagine that it’s of great interest to the Brits. I just follow.

Oh, did I mention grammar?

11:25 so whether you think it was an accident or murder, one fact is incontrovertibly true, it was chillingly convenient for the Windsors that Diana died when she did.

Not sure if I transcribed correctly, but if so, I agree.

Thank you and kind regards,


Anonymous said...

Meanwhile in South Korea

Matched by Moon

Himself said...

A funny lot; the Koreans.

Easily led dontcha think?

Anonymous said...

Himself said...

Now that's what you call skeletons in the closet.

Royal in-laws, who'd have 'em?

That's it till later, things to do.