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Tony Grist

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The Royal Engagement [Nov. 28th, 2017|11:19 am]
Tony Grist
Back-up royals have always had more latitude that heirs to the throne- so the parallel is not so much with Charles and Di or William and Kate as with Andrew and Fergie. Fergie was rather more colourful than the standard Windsor bride- but she still came from within the royal circle- with a father who was a red-faced horsey man of the kind the Queen likes to be around. Meghan, by contrast, is very much not from the royal circle. Harry has gone out into the unroyal world and found her for himself- and if anyone in the family or court is uneasy about her antecedents they can lump it. He has exercised freedom in the choice of a wife that the previous generation didn't have.

The royal family- as Afua Hirsh wrote the other day- is in a symbolic relationship with the nation- so if the royals are more relaxed than they used to be about who gets to wear a tiara and be called Duchess it means the nation is too. The Windsors are a soap opera but also a social barometer. And what this engagement tells us about our society is good. It's all good. Hip-hip-hooray.

I'm still a republican. I disapprove of the class system and would be happy to see its capstone- which is the monarchy- removed- in the hope that the rest of the edifice would then rot and crumble away. Failing that, I'll settle for a monarchy that looks and feels like it belongs to the people and hasn't been plonked down on top of them. We got some of that with Princess Di- and Harry and Meghan are the next step forward. Harry used to be a bit of an arse (haven't we all?) but seems to have developed into a person of real emotional intelligence. I really quite like having him around- and I think this is the first time I've said that about any member of his family.

[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-11-28 08:17 pm (UTC)
The royal family is in a symbolic relationship with the nation and represents our-sometimes conflicting- values to ourselves and to the world. I'm not in favour of this state of affairs but- as someone who has lived with the system all my life- I recognise it as the way things are. The royals and what they stand for and the emotions they engender are inescapable if you live in this country. It's rare for a news bulletin not to feature some snippet of royal news- while the conservative newspaper my mother takes features a picture of someone royal on its front page every other day. Think back to Lady Di and how her struggles with the family dramatized the national debate between tradition and modernity....
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[User Picture]From: topum
2017-11-28 10:54 pm (UTC)
I live in this country now but I am not British of course so I am definitely not a valid example for this. However I am surrounded by a lot of Brits my age and that includes very close friends as well as my fiance (her mother is English and she grew up mostly in London) and I have to say that I don't know anyone at all who feels this way. I mean "represents our-sometimes conflicting- values to ourselves". Yeah, some people are fond of them, like to have them, royal news are everywhere, but I do not seem to know people who would take them that seriously. Symbols - yes, news - yes but values to ourselves - no. Of course the set of people around me is in no way representative of Britain as a whole and I am aware that a lot of people are much more fond of the royals than the people around me but I didn't know that it ran that deep these days. This is surprising.

Edited at 2017-11-28 10:54 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-11-29 09:06 am (UTC)
Maybe it's a generational thing. I'm assuming I'm a good deal older than most of your friends.

I grew up in an age when the royal family was treated with a reverence little short of that accorded the holy family. I rebelled against this- but I'm still conditioned to take them seriously. If younger people are more laid back about them I'm all for it.
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