The royal engagement

Romance is in the air following the announcement by unfeasibly posh blond guy Prince William that he will be marrying Kate Middleton, who is less posh but still has multi-millionaire business owners for parents and went to public school. Apparently this makes her middle class, at least in the eyes of people whose family owns half of Hampshire and who probably think David Cameron is middle class too. The Prince, his lovely fiancee and the rest of the Royal Family really ought to be prime targets for snark, if not serious wrath, from the likes of me. The incarnation of social inequality; vast unearned landed wealth; unelected head of state chosen on blood ties – it really writes itself. And yet, apart from a half-hearted fling with republicanism at about the time of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, largely motivated by being sick of the blanket media coverage, I’ve never been able to seriously dislike them, or indeed the old aristocracy in general.

Muhammed Ali once said that the reason he wouldn’t fight in the Vietnam War was that it wasn’t the Viet Cong that called him “nigger”. I think my case is similar in that I’ve never felt particularly oppressed by the Royals or the aristos. The unearned wealth thing never got me that worked up – I’m not bothered by knowing that someone has a lot more money than me or the rest of the population, even if they didn’t really earn it. What tends to annoy me is the perception that someone or some people are interfering with my freedom, or, at a stretch, that of people around me, in some way. The prime candidates for that role in my life have always been good old-fashioned capitalists, either as employers or just moustache twirling profiteers screwing up the economy, “the management” of practically every large organisation I’ve ever come across and politicians/the State generally (even…no, especially because I work for it). Your landed gentry don’t really come into it. Some people practically start spitting blood at the mere mention of a fox hunt or polo match, but I don’t (incidentally, animal rights has never been much of a hot topic round here either).

It’s interesting to analyse those groups in society that you do and do not like. I’ve never been able to build up the quite disturbing levels of hatred that some clearly hold towards celebrities. Wayne Rooney, for example, may be thick, ridiculously overpaid and underperforming on the pitch, but he’s not demanded anything of me. If he had – if for example I was a Man United fan being asked to fund his bloated pay packet – he could be easily dealt with by refusing to pay for a ticket to his club or buy anything from his sponsors, thereby denying him my money. Even less worthy of getting hot under the collar about is the latest attention-seeking idiot from the latest reality TV show, although they can meet with almost murderous levels of contempt. Just don’t watch the programme. Unfortunately, you can’t simply turn off capitalism or politics.

The police are another group that often attract haters (so, for that matter, are The Police, but we’ll keep Sting out of this). However, the most intense dislike seems to come from (a) criminals (tough luck, pal) (b) black “yoof” feeling discriminated against (who probably have a point) and (c) the sort of people who go on lots of protests of the sort where there’s a good chance someone will start a fight and end up getting arrested a lot (the clue is in the question). Having never been arrested by them, I can’t work up stronger feelings re the bizzies than a suspicion that they were never very interested in the various still unsolved minor crimes I’ve reported to them over the years.

So I, at any rate, will be regarding the prospect of a royal wedding with a mixture of vague curiosity, indifference and apathy. I won’t be waving flags and attending street parties (on my street, you’d get run over if you tried that), but I won’t be joining the student anarchists/Families Need Fathers campaigners/Socialist Workers who even as we speak are probably planning to disrupt the whole event in an exciting yet fundamentally daft way. After all, we might get a day off out of the whole exercise. And besides, there is unrefutable photographic evidence that Miss Middleton has good legs. Legs must count for something in all this.

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