One of the left wing media whinge monkeys on Radio 4 contemplated this morning whether the Royal Wedding was the beginning of the end for European monarchies: a last gasp before the entire institution tottered on the precipice of Republicanism. Mind you, the Mail’s Mr Hitchens said something similar in a recent column so you see what we’re up against Rowley. I was contemplating these unfortunate predictions when I chanced upon the red carpet images from the Metropolitan Costume Institute Ball in New York on Bank Holiday Monday commemorating the work of the late Alexander McQueen. Le tout aristocracy of fashion, film and TV were out in force and to say the media appetite for the fashion was rabid would be like saying Princess Beatrice may need a little help in the styling department.
Monarchy is not in danger unless the media continues to mishandle it. Only Hello magazine and the odd newspaper DPS seemed to have grasped that the Royal Wedding was as much about entertainment as it was about pageantry and tradition. The BBC missed a huge trick in not treating the wedding as three opportunities for major red carpet reporting: Lady Elizabeth Anson’s dinner for all the Euro royals at the Mandarin Oriental the night before the wedding, the fun and games at the Abbey and the red carpet appearance at Buckingham Palace for the post-wedding ball.
If only the media had grasped that the British monarchy alone now boasts a cast of characters who would make our current crop of ‘celebrities’ look dull and uninteresting. The Middletons alone have brought us eligible minx Pippa, handsome and questing bachelor James and the newly elevated Mr and Mrs M who will be trotted out at many a family gathering not to mention the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge who – whether Clarence House will protect or not – will dominate the media like a sartorial Boadicea from this day forth.
Extend the cast list and we have all the old favourites – the devastatingly chic Princess Michael of Kent, the redoubtable Princess Anne, the fragrant Princess Alexandra, the gung-ho Duchess of Cornwall and the perennially serene Queen – who never fail to inspire and/or amuse when they appear in full rig. We can look forward to years of fun with the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Zara Philips and her sister-in-law Autumn. Royal ladies young and old such as Lady Sarah Chatto (the belle of the wedding), Lady Sophie Windsor (Freddy’s wife), Lady Helen Taylor, Lady Ella Windsor and the Countess of Wessex to show the world how it is done.
Open the view finder further and we have a world of gorgeous young royals to capture our attention: Princess Letizia of Spain,Queen Rania of Jordan, Sheikh Mohammad’s wife Princess Haya, soon-to-be Princess Charlene of Monaco, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Crown Princess Maxima of the Netherlands and Belgium’s Crown Princess Mathilde. With the advent of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s aristocratic and King’s Road circle, we have a generation of well brought-up, savvy young people who all have professions, brains and talent that makes the current tabloid fodder look about as interesting as a bucket of mud by comparison.
Nowhere was this more obvious to me than looking at the party pictures from the Met Ball. Acres of copy is given over stateside to the minutiae of fashion choices made by minor actresses such as the Olsen twins, Vampire Diaries starlet Nina Dobrev and even the daughter of a Vogue editor. With the best will in the world, none of these women have the mystery or the longevity that a European royal Princess or member of a royal family has for life. T’Internet, the picture dailies and TV force feed us like foie gras geese on a diet of minor celebrity and the ubiquitous A-listers (Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham et al) when there is clearly an appetite for a cleansing of the palette and a richer more sophisticated menu.
Who better than young royals and aristocrats to steal our interest? Let’s face it, most celebrities can dress like a’Ho’ and nobody will really bat an eyelid over and above those ghastly tabloid columns that circle exposed tattoos/lovebites/bra straps/track marks. Royals have to dress to abide by rules. When they overstep the mark or break the sacred bonds of appropriate formal day or evening dress, there is SO much more to talk about. Lady GaGa could have worn Princess Beatrice’s Hamster wheel hat for a trip to WalMart and nobody would have bothered to even take her picture. Such excesses are as normal to GaGa as liposuction and the art of the airbrush. But when a British Princess gets it wrong, the world takes notice and websites are built overnight with people improvising homages with TV ariels, Vienetta ice creams and garden fencing: fabulous!
There is so much value to be had with royalty because they neither confirm or deny what we are thinking. Yet every minor celebrity who can set up a Twitter account seems to share his/her thoughts on a daily basis with the world thus shattering every windowpane into their souls and tearing down the glitter curtain of mystique. So what’s the conclusion to what has become something of a rant, Rowley?
I would suggest in future that the BBC and the British papers reassess what really interests the public about our royal family. We are of course fascinated by the history and mystery surrounding their lives: the palaces, the jewels, the courtiers, the etiquette. We are also VERY interested in the do’s and don’ts of how to dress like a Prince or Princess because we want something to aspire to these days rather than fame-hungry monsters to laugh at and pity. The real stars at the apex of the media pecking order have always been and will always be royal.