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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.


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