I was standing with a group of primary school kids a few years ago in a lovely Cotswold garden (not mine).
I felt two hands rest on my shoulders and heard a well-educated male voice say ‘Just keeping you steady sir.’
I smiled, turned and saw an immaculately dressed police officer, a very high ranking one no doubt, standing behind me and smiling.
Now this move may seem a bit odd but it wasn’t in the least alarming. I had noticed a few moments before this that a smartly dressed man had spoken to an equally smartly dressed woman a discreet manner while looking at me. She approached me and asked if I was from the press. I admit I laughed and told her I was a local inhabitant, not from the press. She said she recognised me, I said I was off the telly. She immediately lost interest.
A moment or two later Prince Charles walked into the garden, I was slightly downwind of him and I can honestly report he smelled gorgeous.
All manner of local dignitaries were standing around waiting to meet the old Prince, he ignored them all and walked straight up to the small group of excited children. He spoke with them for at least 10 minutes and was then engulfed by fawning, shuffling old chaps in bad suits and ladies in alarming dresses.
I like to think that the Prince gave me a second look from my position behind the kids, maybe he watched Scrapheap Challenge with his boys. Lads and dads telly. Or maybe he was scoping the police officer who continued to gently hold my shoulders, maybe the officer had given him a wink as if to say ‘don’t be alarmed sir, I have the local anarchist under control.’
I admit, I’ve never been a rabid Royalist, but I’ve never been a fully convinced republican either, sitting on the wretched fence as usual.
I think I may have inherited this from my mother. She was obsessive about the Royals, she had books about them, knew their history and dragged me around more stately homes and castles than I will ever remember. We went to see the Trooping of the Colour, I saw the queen sitting sideways on a horse when I was about 7 years old. We stared through the bars of Buck House and wondered if the Queen was inside. My mum was the same age as her Maj although she didn’t last quite as long.
However, just as much as she was an admirer of the history and pomp of the Royals, my mother was also a proto republican. She was a fierce critic of the inherited wealth and status, she hated the snobbism and elitism they represented. It’s the great British psychosis, someone a big chunk of the public would find annoying is Cameron and his uber-privileged background, his posh boy antics at Oxford, his total ignorance of how most people live.
Yet those self same people don’t seem to apply this critique to the Royals, “they do a marvellous job representing our country overseas, the Queen is a national treasure, she is loved and recognised around the world.”
Unless the particular Royal is a boorish, racist bully like a few Princes and Dukes, allegedly.
It’s hard not to admire the Queen, it’s very easy not to admire large swathes of her hangers on, the minor Dukes and Princes who are only in the position they are ‘cos of their parents. They didn’t do anything, they didn’t have to, they just are. We all allow them that and we pay for them to continue. Bizarre and headache creating.
There is still, in 2011, a class system in Britain, the pivotal key to this system is the Royal Family. It’s the wretched middle classes who get snotty and critical of the Royal family and what they represent. The other posho’s, the land owners, the Tory party, the people with titles, they love the Royal family, as do the working class, the poor and the powerless.
It’s only the uppity middle class, the well educated, well read, know all, sneering, re-cycling professionals who can’t stand them, and interestingly this is the fastest growing social group in the country.
The amount of people who are on holiday at the moment, overseas, out of the whole Royal Wedding madness is extraordinary. I have had more ‘out of office’ e-mail replies this week than I have ever had previously. No one’s here, except posho’s and people in poor areas of our cities having street parties with bunting.
Oh yes, and me. I’ll be planting my beans.
So good luck to that Middleton girl, she is marrying into a fairly traumatised family, they’ve all got issues but as the years have passed I’ve realised that is one thing that I do have in common with them. Families with issues. I know my parental family had them and my present family has its fair share.
The charming police officer had no need to hold my shoulders just in case. I wish no harm on them, I just don’t want to pay for them and I don’t want to know what they think or do. In this country at the moment, that is a forlorn wish.
Happy Royal wedding day.