Britain’s Back!

Royal Wedding of William and Catherine Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

I must admit that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to that Wedding today. Wall to wall TV coverage, street parties, fawning media…

In fact, I remembered Diana’s wedding to Charles, and even more, her funeral. I remembered the over-the-top emotion of all that. How everyone cried with happiness at “the People’s Princess” getting married, followed every twist and turn of her story with Charles in the pages of “Hello” and the Daily Mirror, and then cried again at her funeral.

At that time, especially during the funeral, I felt very much like an exile in a foreign land. It was as though Britain was bewitched. Tony Blair was in charge of “Cool Britannia”, and Cool Britannia was crying for the People’s Princess and sneering at the Queen for not putting the flags at half mast quickly enough.

Today, though, an older Britain reasserted itself. The celebrations for William and Catherine’s wedding were just as colourful, and very much just as wall-to-wall. But they were much more dignified, more calm, more restrained, more British.

The tears at Diana’s funeral felt as if the British were ashamed of themselves, and beating themselves up over her death.

At the celebrations today, it again felt as if we were proud of our traditions, of our monarchy, of everything that has prevented Britain suffering under dictatorships over the years.

Not for us the parades of tanks, missiles and frog-marching soldiers that characterise the celebrations of so many countries.

Nor the gushing emotions and extravangant feelings of others.

In our British celebrations, our soldiers ride on immaculate horses and wear armour that gleams in the sun, and our cheers are restrained – but no less heartfelt. Watching the police shepherding that huge crowd down towards Buckingham Palace to see the Royal Family on the balcony, I wondered in how many other countries that could have been done without the crowd getting out of control and people getting hurt.

Margaret Thatcher, in her autobiography, recalls overhearing a European diplomat saying “Britain’s back”, after one of her handbaggings.

Today, it really did feel as if Britain truly is back this time.

Cool Britannia is dead. Long live Britain.

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The Couple Who Are an Example to Us All

Victoria and David Beckham
Image by friskytuna via Flickr

I have just caught sight of the first part of the Royal Wedding coverage on TV.

I watched the happy couple arriving at Westminster Abbey.

What a great example they are to all of us! In spite of continual attempts by the media over many years to drive a wedge between them and destroy their relationship, here they are still married. And they are gracious and well spoken, and superb ambassadors for our country.

I am, of course, as you will have guessed from the picture, referring to the Beckhams. Congratulations to them, and I wish them all the very best for the future.

As, of course, I do to that other happy couple!

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Government Stumbling on Wedding Invitations

William Hague at the US Dept. of State
Image via Wikipedia

William Hague – Another Gaffe?

The BBC reports that the invitation to Syria’s ambassador to attend the Royal Wedding has been withdrawn.

The Foreign Office said:

In the light of this week’s attacks against civilians by the Syrian security forces, which we have condemned, the foreign secretary has decided that the presence of the Syrian ambassador at the royal wedding would be unacceptable and that he should not attend.

The BBC also reports that Nick Clegg

claimed it was a matter for the Royal Family to decide who attends the wedding.

Not to be outdone, the Prime Minister apparently

agreed the ambassador’s presence would have been unacceptable.

Meanwhile, representatives of Zimbabwe, Iran and North Korea have been invited to the wedding. Regardless of your views on the Syrian government, surely it is not as bad as that of North Korea?!

Maybe we should have a points system to decide who gets invited. Having a thriving democracy – get 50 points. Killing demonstrators – lose 10 points. Repressing free speech – lose 5 points. Being on the government’s current list of “nasty people” – lose 5,000 points and game over.

In general, all this just indicates how unwise the government has been to accept the linkage between this State occasion and its disapproval of the Syrian regime.

The row over this broke out after a number of Labour MPs complained that the Syrian ambassador should not be at the wedding, especially as former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have not been invited.

The right response would have been to point out first, that the guest list was a matter for the Royal family alone and nothing to do with the government, and second, that invitations to the wedding have nothing to do with approval or disapproval of the actions of various governments around the world. By trying to jump on the publicity bandwagon of expressing disapproval of Syria, the government has simply made itself look foolish.

It seems to me that this mess was motivated by the government’s defining characteristic of trying to please everybody, and avoid controversy at all costs. When that criticism came from those Labour MPs, the government’s first reaction was to appease it.

The result of that approach in this case has been an entirely unnecessary public relations fiasco.

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