Surviving the royal wedding

Lorna Stephenson passes the sick bag as the press fills up with right royal rubbish

April 15, 2011
4 min read

On April 29, we are all supposed to forget for a moment the class war being quietly waged against us in austerity Britain. We are meant to dig deep into our rapidly decreasing bank accounts and shell out for some bunting – for an all-out celebration of the aristocracy.

Ah, the aristocracy. Just like any endangered species, those that are left are the most adaptable and have the strongest survival instinct. Royalty continues to thrive, absolving itself from existential threats by occasionally doing something with such mind-boggling extremes of pomp and ceremony that its importance is re-asserted in a jumble of glitz, red carpets and sycophantic commentary.

Of course, in pulling these stunts they also fulfil their only real function of somehow diluting the fact that the country is entirely run by different, but no less objectionable, group of unelected millionaires. The looming royal wedding is no exception – and with the cuts in full swing the timing is impeccable.

The media will suspend its (already temperamental) newsworthiness gauge, and plough out enough wedding-related drivel to make the average person feel like a battering ram’s being taken to their armour of rational thought and sense of perspective. No wonder one artist has been producing royal wedding themed sick bags.

To make matters worse, who’s paying for this expensive, spectacular event? Mainly us. Although most people would see a £5 million security bill as a hint to scale down their plans, it’s probably not so important when you’re not personally coughing up.

While the newspapers moan about the cost of policing those who exercise their democratic right to protest, flushing funds down the gilded royal toilet bowl is seen as just fine.

Here are a few things you could do to make the day more bearable.

1 Party like a republican

If you’ve got a day off work, you may as well make the most of it. Anti-monarchist campaigners Republic are already organising their ‘Not the Royal Wedding’ street party, but you can throw your own.

Play Crass and the Sex Pistols, boycott the Queen’s money and eat cake (but not Victoria sponge). Providing an alternative for your local community will be an interesting experiment to see who actually gives a crap about the royals and who’s just out for the beer and barbecue.

2 Read the small print

As the national newspapers devote not only the first few pages but an entire keepsake supplement to the royal do, it will be the perfect time for the government to push out some controversial bill or other safe in the knowledge that, at best, it’ll make page six. Spin doctors will assume we’re either too busy celebrating the nuptials of two bland, over-privileged strangers to notice, or else studiously avoiding all media outlets until it’s over. Don’t be fooled.

3 Place your bets now!

Sometimes, like a piece of forgotten commemorative china, romance loses its sparkle. When do you think the divorce papers will be served?

Cynical? Yes. But it’s also rather uncertain. On the one hand, there’s so far been no ambiguous blonde circling Will’s polo matches like a cross between a horse and a bird of prey. On the other, there’s the much-hyped fact that Middleton is a ‘commoner’ and, therefore, it can only be a matter of time before she runs screaming from the palace.

Another flutter could be: how long until Harry makes a fool of himself at the reception? Odds currently on three minutes or less.

4 Re-enact the Putney debates

The last serious entertaining of the idea of abolishing the monarchy took place way back in 1647. While it may leave something to be desired in the way of historical accuracy, discussing the nature of inherited privilege and democracy in your own living room, with plenty of pint-waving and shouts of ‘hear hear!’, is one way to stick two fingers up at the whole circus.

The Putney debates were said to have concluded in the preservation of the monarchy, in part for fear that dissolution of the old power structures would result in anarchy. That’s a debate worth revisiting.


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving

Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK

A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions

Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.

Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.

Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History

Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.

A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas

Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'

The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion

The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.

Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.

Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism

What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry

Airport expansion is a racist policy
Climate change is a colonial crisis, writes Jo Ram


94