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...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Royal Circus

Well done, me. I woke up just in time to see the streaker disrobe on Windsor High Street. Wahey!

And in case you were wondering if I was going to live blog during the soi-disant Royal Wedding, you must be joking, even if I weren't suffering from the after-effects of the Pope's funeral.

It's a shame really, considering I was too young to remember the panoply and happiness which went hand-in-glove in 1981. That was grand and tatty. This time, it's tat tat and more tat.

So I'm enjoying myself instead rubbernecking again.

On MSNBC, they have Tina Brown doing comms, sounding very pro-Camilla, in fact, being rather naughty regarding her old great friend, the late Princess of Wales. Smart lass. She must feel the winds of change upon her.

On CNN, they have the still-effervescent Richard Quest, Anderson Cooper with the charming Becky Anderson and Charles-idoliser biographer, Penny Junor, sounding bereft that she didn't snag him yet again.

On Fox News, they have stuck to American presenters entirely, led by morning host E.D. Hill. And unsurprisingly for a Murdoch-owned entity, they are by far the least reverential of all the networks so far. The Australian media mogul may be Conservative, but in the British sense after Margaret Thatcher, this means they despise the Old Guard, and love meritocracy, which of course royalty could never represent by definition.

All American journalists so far today have been interested in the various hat concoctions on display. They can't get over it, but surely, they've seen photos of the various summer events which constitute The Season in Britain, no? Come on, surely they've covered Ascot at least once. You'd think martians had landed on Tara Parker-Tomkinson's head, which is a good description of her hat, actually.

Anyway, again I note that one of the salient differences between Americans and us is that they are too self-conscious to be convincingly eccentric. Eccentrics are comfortable in their own skin. Howard Hughes was not.

Let's see, so far I've seen Timothy West and wife Prunella Scales looking quite pleased with themselves, he in Edwardian togs, an ironic touch obviously. I wonder how this notorious friend of "The Welsh Windbag", ex-Labour Leader Neil Kinnock, is feeling, looking even more minute in a pink pillbox hat.

They're just passing the Windsor Tea Room, an overly twee pink-interiored crooked house adjoining that imposingly Victorian structure, Guildhall.

I frequently have had tea there, since their scones are the best this side of...Demel's in Vienna. I once asked the lady owner if she has had (arching my eyebrows, moving closer to ask), any "visitors".

A blaze of pastels inside

"What, you mean, like...?".


"One time there was a knock, but we
attributed that to the pipes not ghosts".

"No, not ghosts! I mean, visitors who
live nearby (wagging eyebrows furiously)...".

"What, like The Queen? (Now smiling as
if _I_ were the idiot child). No, she won't come down 'ERE.

"She's got a good
spread on at the Castle, don't she!".

Bah, my rubbernecking foiled again.

But not worry -- there's Sir David Frost and wife Carina, Joanna Lumley, there's Charles Kennedy (leader of the Lib-Dems), David Dimbleby, Stephen Fry - no doubt with a copy of his excellent autobio in his mourning suit pocket, the ever present Richard E. Grant, and speaking of ever-present, where's King Constantine II and wife, Anne-Marie? I hope they didn't break down on the way. Blimey, there's Sanjeev Bhaskar, no doubt concocting a send-up for a skit -- "The Windsors at No. 1".

And speaking of comedians, there's Joan Rivers, looking very to the manor born next to Susan Hampshire and Edward Fox. One wonders WHERE ON EARTH she met Prince Charles, and in due course, became so palsy with him that she was invited to his wedding. Well. They do say every Court has its Jester, and she's certainly dressed the part.

Despite this oddity, it's very A-List, but I'm not quite sure what says for our A-List that I find it incredibly boring and in fact, a circus-like atmosphere. This is probably due to the people's hearts simply not into watching, in the self-deprecatory words of Camilla Parker Bowles herself, "two middle-aged people getting hitched". Heh.

If she's not careful, I might start to like her. Just.

There's the Queen arriving, looking actually quite sweet in white, with her granny's brooch sparkling. But fear not, Princess Anne didn't let us down -- I swear she's wearing the same tired old blue dress she wore to the first Wales wedding, no doubt in retaliation, since she's upset she's missing the Grand National. I was going to put a fiver on her.

The Blessing at St. George's Chapel is due to start any moment. I've been there quite a few times, since I grew up not far away and Windsor Castle was the nearest "school trip" destination.
The bridegroom and bride, now changed into a stunning powder-blue floor-length dress, have arrived, looking slightly the better for the two gin-and-tonics no doubt knocked back in the interval.

Well that IS a pleasant surprise -- not the usual Dame Kiri Te Kanawa aria, but a Russian hymn being sung resonantly by a black-bunned contra-alto, who no doubt, JSU will let us know later who it was. And in a touching gesture, it will be translated by Prince Michael of Kent, the noted linguistic show-off. Top man.

Ah, now the vows. "Charles, have you resolved to be faithful to your wife, as long as ye shall live?". "That is what I have resolved." Thank God. I don't think I could take another one of these 20 years hence.

There's Timothy West. His selection for a reading and the Russian hymn have the opera-and-theatre-loving Prince Charles' hand written all over it. 29 July was her day. This is his.

The orchestra in show is marvellous, and as I can attest to, are made moreso by the phenomenal accoustics inside St. George's Chapel, where 10 British sovereigns have married. On the rare occasions when there's not a Royal Wedding being celebrated, one can mill around tourist-like, but you are enjoined not to photograph or camcord the inside, though obviously no one tells you to. It would be like putting up a sign, "No eating on top of King George V and Queen Mary's tombs". I mean really.

Last time I was there, one of the lovely docents available, wearing their distinctive jackets, was told by another guide to be on guard that a Chinese tourist had been told not to camcord anymore, but was cleverly, he thought, doing so anyway by casually dangling the camera in his hand. The docent didn't stop him, instead shrugging and saying to me, "I don't suppose they have anything similar in Hong Kong." Indeed not.

Ah, after a resounding volley from the choir, we're in the final stretch, as Prince Charles and the new Princess Consort, Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall, Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles, née Shand, the Rottweiler (one certainly has a choice of names) make their way outside to the cheering crowd -- of 3 or 4 people, two of whom are Windsor Castle chars. The other 10,000 are tabloid reporters.

And speaking of which, here is what BBC comms would sound like, as we bid the royal couple goodbye:

"And then, they're gone. In busses. Princess Anne had better hurry if she wants to catch her connexion to Aintree. They leave behind, the cheering waving happy crowds, hoping against hope for a quick streak by Prince Philip. It's hard to imagine, seeing the faithful onlookers so enthusiastic, that the dawn of the monarchy is upon us, but as long as there are Japanese tourists, they have a job."

Now for a honeymoon in Scotland for the pair of them. If ever there was a couple who deserved a freezing, drizzly, and morose honeymoon, it is not them. Poor dears.

And now a final word about the whole matter.

It is said the Queen Mother loathed Camilla Parker Bowles and as long as she lived, seemingly forever, the chance of this union was scotched (pun intended). But I suspect it had nothing to do with the lady itself, since she likes a bawdy joke and a drink or two, rather like the late Queen.

No, it was more about being a bad thing for the institution of monarchy, which she devoted her whole life to saving after the Abdication of Edward VIII. And she, as ever, was right. Although regularising this cohabition is, ultimately, a good thing, it has no standing at all with the British public -- a public which always have understood what monarchy should mean, more than the royal persons who embody it seem to, at times.

But I also know something very true about my compatriots. That when you live long enough, even the darkest of blackguards can be rehabilitated. And though the new Duchess of Cornwall will always be the ugly interloper, our character is disgusted by the piling on of abuse shown by the mean-spirited tabloids to date. In America, the opposite is true, and bounders stay good and hated forever. As F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, "there are no second acts in American history."

So just to be bloody-minded, I predict Camilla will yet become beloved. Alright, not beloved -- tolerated.

Something, as they say, is something.


  • Your stamina amazes me. Where did you get the time (and the will!) to do the Pope's thing and this. I, quite frankly, dozed off after the first hald an hour of the pope's thing.


    By Blogger patricio lopez, at Sun Apr 10, 10:52:00 am GMT-4  

  • Because, unlike you Patricio, it's not my job. I do it for love. *sticks out tongue*


    I'm glad you saw some of the Pope thing, as you call it. But you missed the best part (live). The point where the pallbearers turned around the simple pine coffin, and tipped it to show the crowd the Pope one last agonising time, as if he were actualling saying goodbye. At that precise moment, the bells of St. Peter's started to toll.

    I tell you. There's wasn't a dry eye in the house.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Apr 10, 06:41:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I missed Charles Wedding 2.0 but Sarah saw it all...

    By Blogger JSU, at Sun Apr 10, 07:12:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Great link, JSU, thanks!

    And since I was very impressed by the musical selections, but as I hastened to tell my readers in another post, I have no musical ability at all, here are Sarah's clarifications for what was played at the Blessing.

    Ekaterina Semenchuk sang a Russian Creed set by Gretchaninov. And obviously Bach and Handel were in evidence as well. Yay.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Apr 11, 01:04:00 pm GMT-4  

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