Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday 13 May 2023

You Heard It Here First

Reflecting further on the mean-spirited carping about the royal family’s balcony appearance (previous post), I wonder whether some commentators, at least, were all geared up to denounce what happened in the Abbey for being too white or male but found themselves instead watching a ceremony which did a pretty good job of ticking diversity boxes, leaving them casting around elsewhere for a suitable cause of outrage and, bizarrely, landing on the heinous crime of a family in resembling each other and failing to marry suitably diverse partners several decades ago.

Away from the furore - and let’s now get as far away from it as possible - the ceremony actually showed how far we have come since the last coronation, where female participants, with one obvious exception, generally stood around looking decorative. This time, with little prior fanfare or fuss, centuries of tradition were put aside, not least with the involvement of female bishops, in ways which would have had our ancestors gaping in astonishment.

Along with Baroness Amos proclaiming the monarch, Penny Mordaunt’s turn as the Lady of the Lake and the heart-warming appearance of Floella Benjamin, splendidly bejewelled and ermine-draped as if equipped from the world’s best dressing-up box, the coronation ceremony brought us the joyous spectacle of Princess Anne striding out, in the words of the Times’ Janice Taylor, like ‘a swashbuckling lady pirate’ in a plumed hat and floor-length velvet cape under which, in anticipation of the equestrian duties to follow, she wore uniform riding trousers and a business-like pair of boots.

I have to admit that it was more than a little gratifying to see that a post I wrote some years ago was actually pretty near the mark:

Back in the 1970s, when I was a child, princesses came in two varieties. There were the fairy-tale ones in books, whose royal status unaccountably enabled them to spin frogs into gold or identify stray vegetables in their bedding, and then there was the real-life home-grown version, an energetic outdoor type with a no-nonsense style and an HGV licence who was not above telling intrusive photographers to "Naff awf!" 

Even her wedding, that ultimate opportunity for frills, furbelows and fantasy trimmings, was relatively devoid of story-book razzmatazz; as she walked up the aisle to the sound of trumpets, it would not have been a surprise to learn that, under the severe lines of her dress, she was wearing comfortable boots and possibly even a pair of jodhpurs. 

It is one of the most touching aspects of the whole occasion that the King asked his sister to hold the office of Gold Stick in Waiting, a position which, behind all the Tudor heraldic weirdness, effectively makes her his official bodyguard. It’s the ultimate in asking someone to cover your back - quite literally - and who better to do so than a woman who, once upon a time, responded to an attempted armed kidnapping by sitting tight and telling her would-be abductor “Not bloody likely!”?

Update: it is somewhat galling - or alternatively further proof of my prescience - to find that the Daily Mail has, this morning, published an article on HRH’s popularity with Gen Z:


No comments:

Post a Comment

Moderation is on as I’m having some technical difficulties with Comments