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"Good luck to them"

The British monarchy put itself on facebook a week before it was announced that William is engaged to a commoner. Is there a limit to reinvention?
Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
16 November 2010

“Good luck to them. Let’s hope they are not to be destroyed by the media”, says a neighbour from Kate’s village. In this spirit, there will be a great party celebrating the fact that she is “normal” whipped along, of course, by the media. But is the magic safe in its hands?

I doubt the BBC’s claim that the engagement will, “Dominate what we talk about for the next six to eight months”. The Corporation will do its very best to make sure this is the case, not least as it is an inherently British business. The distraction won’t last; but the reinvention of the monarchy may do so, in parallel with the Prime Minister’s detoxification of the Tory party. The BBC’s royal correspondent reported from in front of Buck House that there has been, “A lot of thought behind the scenes”. Indeed. The modernisation committee has been considering all the options and lo! a Queen’s facebook page has just been neatly made available for loyal subjects to post their good wishes here (NO! Not that Queen, it's here!).

Thirty years ago, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh insisted that Charles married a virgin to protect the sacred character of divine right in the royal succession. Perhaps thanks to her elder sister being one of Charles’ mistresses, the word had got out and Diana, as she put it, kept herself “tidy”. Today the outcome of that relationship is engaged to a commoner. From a very wealthy if self-made background, Kate was groomed, in that she was sent to Marlborough before St Andrews and charming her Prince. But the initial, graceless response to the new order by William’s father registers the cost he paid. Prince Charles said he was "thrilled, obviously. They've been practising long enough." Watch the gritted teeth reaction, words don’t convey it. It will not take much ‘thought behind the scenes’ to ensure he makes another statement uttering his profound delight and happiness on behalf of the nation, straight to camera, just like that young chappy the Prime Minister. However, ‘one’ can’t but recall Diana’s express wish in her famous TV interview when she denounced the royal family as "the Establishment" and complained that there had been "three people" in her marriage, that the succession should pass directly to her son and skip HRH himself. It isn’t over yet.

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