Confessions of a supposed republican

Secretly, I’m rather looking forward to the Royal Wedding.
Secretly, I’ve rather enjoyed watching a variety of spurious Royal Wedding documentaries.
Secretly, I’d rather like a commemorative biscuit tin.

My parents are die-hard anti-monarchists (difficult to use ‘republican’ as where they live it means something rather different) and brought us up with their belief that our royalty were a rather unnecessary historical throwback. [In fact, my Dad even claims that should he ever be offered an Honour he’ll refuse. I somewhat suspect that my Mum will try and dissuade him from this, just so she can have a hat wearing opportunity.] We read the Independent for a while partly owing to its pledge not to feature royals on its front page.

But secretly, while growing up, I was fascinated by them. Maybe it was owing my historical bent; it could have been the fact that I shared the monarch’s name; perhaps it was because Wills was just one school year below me; perhaps it’s because my formative years – the late 80s and early 90s – were dominated by royal scandal, culminating in the death of Diana the week I got my GCSE results.

Actually, there is one reason alone that set me upon this trajectory: my birth date.
July 29th 1981 is a historic date that’s been much mentioned in recent months – the day Lady Diana Spencer wed Prince Charles in St Paul’s Cathedral while the world watched. My parents didn’t – not simply because they had no TV in Tonga, where they were living at the time and would have been disinclined to watch it anyway – but because my mother was giving birth to me. Legend has it that she got a little irked when medical people kept sloping off to listen to the ceremony on the radio.

I should clarify that my date of birth is actually the 30th, thanks to the time difference, but I entered the world just as the reception was kicking off and as a result certain relatives were convinced that I shared my birthday with a terribly auspicious event, meaning that on our return to England I was blessed with much royal memorabilia – including stamps, and a mug that I later auctioned on eBay. Somehow Ladybird books on the two great royal weddings of the 1980s ended up on our bookshelves and I read them with quiet fascination, absorbed by the dresses, traditions and ceremony of it.

For years this interest has lain dormant. I didn’t join in with the speculation of which university Wills might attend, nor did I include possibilities on my UCAS form in the hope I might one day become a princess. I paid scant attention to Prince Charles’ second marriage and uttered a groan when the royal engagement was announced fearing months and months of pointless regal drivel being the focus of the news – fears that have certainly been realised. My resentment was muffled somewhat by the extra public holiday, but I later resented the pressure this put on certain work deadlines. I also still deeply object to the media’s blanket coverage of the event, to the detriment of world events like Alabama’s tornadoes and the situation in Syria; not to mention the side-lining of coverage of next week’s electoral reform referendum.

It’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve been sucked into the excitement. The merchandise has been hilarious, but the Cath Kidston stuff is cute and there are some very attractive biscuit tins in M&S (and I do love a good biscuit tin) – I won’t buy one until they’re reduced next week, but still, the desire is there. In the last week I’ve watched not one but three documentaries (though two of these were actually two parts of the same very informative programme – Royal Weddings – charting ceremonies from the Queen Mother onwards). [Fascinating fact gleaned from part 2: the King of Tonga attended Charles & Diana’s wedding, but was so large he needed a double sized chair to sit on. The BBC reported on this rather disrespectfully I feel.]

Originally I wasn’t even going to stay in the Big Smoke for the festivities, hoping to follow my parents’ lead and disappear somewhere exotic (they flew to Italy this morning). But no such luck – a dear friend’s Hen Do’s been scheduled in the capital for the same weekend. And then, the final straw – I got invited to a street party I couldn’t say no to. It’s at church, my ‘cluster’ are running it and lots of my friends will be there and, the clincher, the e-mail informing me it was taking place included the following postscript:
“If you’re with Bishop Pete Broadbent and not so keen on the Royals’ nuptials, come along anyway – think of it as a fun day out and chance to bless our local community!!”
Effectively guilt-tripped into it then.

A patriotic Regent’s Street

And now I’m rather excited. Baking has been done – my job tonight/first thing tomorrow is to make tons of sandwiches and then hopefully travel on the Jubilee line unscathed by enthusiastic wedding watchers to the comparative safety of Marylebone. London looks rather fabulous, or rather central London does. Regent’s Street’s patriotic flags are distinctly more tasteful than Bermondsey’s plastic (with the happy couple superimposed) version. Tomorrow I will attend my first ever street party; I will watch the wedding on a big screen at church; and next week – providing they’re reduced – I will acquire a commemorative biscuit tin.

Mum and Dad, I’m so terribly, terribly sorry.

Comments

  1. Fab post – loved reading this. I actually held one of those biscuit tins in M&S this afternoon and pondered on buying it.

  2. Thanks!
    They’re rather fab aren’t they. Bless M&S and their designers…

  3. Oh yes, I like the biscuit tin on the right. Gorgeous.

  4. Oh… I was so excited to see your take on this… being a real Brit and all!

    I wasn’t going to get excited about it… but then I watched a video of Diana’s arrival at the Cathedral… and got all nostalgic. I do love a good spectacle! Pomp and Circumstance are fun and dear now aren’t they?

    I brought my work laptop home tonight in hopes of watching coverage from bed – rather than dragging myself up to the living room in the AM.

    Enjoy!
    TRS

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sainsburys now selling the mcvities tins for £2.50

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