Four final thoughts about the Royal Wedding, some of which have been expressed by others. Here are my versions.
First, the new Duchess of Cambridge looks as if she is already laying to rest the whole ‘Diana thing’. That febrile longing won’t be able to survive in the public mind now that, by contrast, the latest strong woman to join the House of Windsor is just that: self-possessed, self-assertive, confident, clear-sighted and clearly an adult. That kind of mature realism was not on display in the early Windsor years of her mother-in-law. It is now, and it will be valuable for the Firm as it navigates the next few eventful years of change.
The new Duchess’ beguiling sister seems to have taken up the heavy burden of being the necessary counterweight quite quickly. She’ll balance out her sister’s evident devotion to duty and regal cool. Pippa’s striking looks and attitude (and That Dress) guarantee her a career as Queen of the Tabloids, if she wants it. She certainly attracted the notice of the nearest cavalry officer. Looking forward to the bikini season in July and August, the paparazzi must be in seventh heaven. The Italian media are already on the case. I wish her well.
Third thought: for someone aged 85, HM The Queen looks in good nick, as if to confirm the widely held view that she doesn’t really want her son to succeed her and is hanging on for the benefit of the new Duke. Prince Charles seems, by contrast, to be ageing much more quickly. If he does succeed to the throne, I cannot but think that he will actually damage the brand. When was the last time anybody read anything complimentary or respectful about this prematurely aged, querulous backwoodsman? The numbers show that he could well turn out to be, rather like the present Pope, an interim and forgotten figure between two star performances.
But all this is nugatory if we don’t want a monarchy at all. I am not a monarchist, although I love the ceremonies, and when I think that the last King of England to wield the sort of power that imprisons without charge and executes without mercy died, under the blade himself, as long ago as January 1649, I wonder why we need a monarch at all. As a symbol? If so, a symbol that misrepresents us badly, especially to ourselves.
We are citizens not subjects. Let’s remember that as we admire Kate Middleton and politely hope she becomes the last Queen of the UK and its dominions beyond the seas.