November 28th, 2017

The Royal Engagement

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.