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The royal torture chamber

Ben Chu

prince william and kate middleton souvenir mugs 590bes121010 150x150 The royal torture chamberIf I was Prince William and his new wife, I’d find Stephen Glover’s media column in The Independent this morning terrifying:

“On Saturday St James’s Palace requested the media to respect the privacy of the couple over the weekend and during their holiday. Is this naivety or arrogance – or both? If you invite the world’s media to share intimate moments, if you cheerfully involve them in mindless chatter about Kate’s wedding dress and work them up into a general state of frenzy, you cannot simply turn off the tap when it suits you…The press loved the wedding because it had everything it wanted. Never again. It won’t be long before it gets frustrated, whenever its access to the over-hyped golden couple is barred. There will be stand-offs and complaints on both sides, pictures snatched by paparazzi, stories that not all is going entirely swimmingly, and endless columns speculating about their state of mind. It will be impossible not to feel sorry for William and Kate and impossible, too, not to reflect that they and their advisers have stirred up a voracious monster they can never tame.”

Leave aside the (rather disingenuous) sympathy expressed for the couple here, and what you have here is a pretty clear message: they’ve brought this on themselves. Glover seems to be implying that if they’d kept the media at arm’s length, they’d be able to expect serene privacy. If only the poor fools hadn’t invited the press to share in their “intimate moments”, they’d be left in relative peace.

Don’t believe it for a second. The Royal Family has tried quiet dignity in the past. They remained silent after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. And what did it get them? Hysterical headlines in the tabloids demanding that they get intimate with the world about their grief.  ”Your people are suffering, speak to us Maam” shrieked The Mirror.  ”Where is our Queen?” demanded The Sun. This is when Tony Blair stepped in, advising the Royals to show a bit of emotional thigh in order to placate the lachrymose mob and the bullying press. Which they duly did.

No; the Royal Family doesn’t stir up the monster. The monster doesn’t need stirring up. It wants blood and will have it no matter how this dysfunctional family tries to manage its public profile.

My fine colleague John Rentoul* is right to describe membership of the royal family as “a cruel, unusual and arbitrary punishment”. And all those gorging on the soap opera now should be aware that they are handing the torturer the instruments.

*Incidentally I’m a bit baffled at the fact that John and other republican Blairites are getting so worked up about the “snub” to Tony Blair in not being invited to the royal wedding. If you regard the monarchy as a worthless institution, why should you care whether or not  Britain’s “finest peace time prime minister” is invited to one of its confected occasions? Surely attendance would be demeaning for such an exalted figure?

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  • David Cunard

    The “oxygen of publicity” which we have today was not available to Queen Victoria, who lived in seclusion for most of her reign, neither to her immediate successors, yet the Royal Family still marches on. The monarchy would not vanish, it would continue as before. It is the ubiquitous media, ever eager, indeed over-eager, for a story to spread, which would be the loser. Had not Diana been hounded by the press, she might well be alive today.

    On the subject of Tours, it is the foreign government which extends the invitation, the Palace does not go cap-in-hand begging to visit other nations. In modern times, the Government has found the Royal Family to be excellent representatives for their country; going as far back as George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s pre-WWII visit to the USA, which certainly was a plus for the UK in face of the decidedly isolationist feelings there. A visit by the prime minster would never have had the same effect.

  • David Cunard

    I’ll bet TB accepts a peerage in years to come when he thinks he is the grand old man of politics.

  • manwhosees

    Could anyone ??

  • gjd2588

    Victorian and Edwardian history isn’t my strong point, but I was pretty sure that “Bertie” was the darling of the press throughout his lengthy tenure as Prince of Wales.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/NDUF6QLHDN7ASRUM2H6SUQCM6E Paul

    And it’s a pity some people can’t spot sarcasm.


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