Blair on the Royal Family

John Rentoul

queen 300x220 Blair on the Royal FamilyI write about why Tony Blair and Gordon Brown might not have been invited to the royal wedding in The Independent on Sunday today. Not online is the panel containing the quotations from Blair’s memoir, A Journey, which might have offended the Queen, who takes seriously the business about not “letting the light in on the magic”. So here they are:

What Blair says about the Queen in A Journey:

“I talked, perhaps less sensitively than I should have, about the need to learn lessons. I worried afterwards she would think I was lecturing her or being presumptious, and at points during the conversation she assumed a certain hauteur; but in the end she herself said lessons must be learned and I could see her own wisdom at work, reflecting, considering and adjusting.”

What Blair says about William:

“I had also spoken to William, who was not only still grieving but angry. He knew, rationally, why the week between Diana’s death and the funeral had to be as it had been, but he felt acutely the conflict between public position and private emotion. He knew now, if he didn’t before, what being a prince and a king meant. For all the sense of duty the prison walls of hereditary tradition must have seemed too high a price to pay.”

What Blair says about what the royal family thought about him:

“My upfront and and visible filling of the vacuum would have made her uncomfortable, and certainly some of those around her somewhat disdained it. It also emphasised their general unease with me and what I represented.
“I am not a great one for the Establishment … I always felt that they preferred political leaders of two types: either those who were of them – or at least fully subscribed to their general outlook – or the ‘authentic’ Labour people, the sort they used to read about, who spoke with an accent and who fitted their view of how such people should be. People like me were a bit nouveau riche, a bit arriviste, a bit confusing and therefore suspect.”

What Blair said on Friday, in Colombia:

“I’m delighted for the royal couple.It is completely sensible to invite people from different walks of life instead of politicians. [Was he offended?] Absolutely not at all. It’s not an issue and I wish them every happiness.”

What Gordon Brown has said about it all:


*Although Sarah Brown did comment on Twitter the next day and Andy Taylor points out that his spokeswoman did say on Thursday:

Gordon and Sarah both wish Prince William and Kate Middleton every happiness for the future. They will be joining in celebrating their marriage like all of Britain and lots of people around the world.

Photograph: PA

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  • BlairSupporter

    @ briank11- can’t put it better than Zac Murdoch has below. And I was not, and most definitely am not NOW a Labour supporter.

  • mightymark

    No – 0f course not, but he may have had some influence, and specifically if he knew that the man who promoted his late mother’s cause to the Queen in 1997 was not being invited because of that, perhaps he would have said something about it. I know one should not expect gratitude in politics (and that includes the dealings with the Royals in this case) but this seems such a monstrous act of ingratitude – on the Queen’s part too – that one can’t help but be bemused by it.

  • BlairSupporter

    @ mightmark,

    “bemused” isn’t a word I’d use. Some of these instead -

    Disgraceful, shameful, selfish, self-serving, politically partisan, rude, dismissive, thoughtless, inconsiderate, ungrateful, short-termism with blindfolds, stupid, insane …

    Anyway, Blair says he was not insulted.

    For once, I don’t believe him.

  • mightymark

    Me neither! – and, as I said – monstrously ungrateful.


    There is a simple reason why Tony Blair wasn’t at the Royal Wedding:

    Elizabeth ll was there and even Blair knew there was only room for one old queen.

  • ZacMurdoch

    Forgot to say that in the Sunday Times last weekend, Brian Appleyard wrote this:

    ‘As David Starkey has said, with one prod Tony Blair could have ended the British royal line. By not prodding, he saved them, only to be refused an invitation on Friday – a foolishly sour note on a day of sweetness and light.’

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