Photo: Getty / Oli Scarff
Last year, like many British people living overseas, I experienced a somewhat unexpected wave of patriotism and stoic British pride at the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Royal Wedding of Prince William of Wales to Kate Middleton.The event itself was nice; the marriage of two nice-seeming, attractive people—who doesn’t like that? But beyond the big event there were dozens of smaller moments that made the British elite seem glamorous and exotic, even to me.
There was something about the event that made the Royal family feel exciting and young. The wedding was internationally broadcast and watched around the world by people wearing little Union Jack flags and drinking Pimms cups, and later blogs and social media disseminated ideas and memes from the wedding in a fashion that was a typically 21st century media event.
With this year’s Diamond Jubilee (the 60th anniversary of the day Queen Elizabeth was crowned), I couldn’t help but believe the same excitement would follow. Another chance for the British monarchy to show the world why they are everyone’s favourite family!
Only, they didn’t.
Rather than funny hats and grumpy flower girls, the news was distinctly more serious. The biggest story of the entire event was probably the Guardian’s impressive scoop on the unemployed people forced to work as unpaid stewards at official events, and told to sleep under London Bridge.
Prince Philip, more commonly making headlines for his unusual wit, instead spent the event in hospital with an infection, a sad reminder that he (like the Queen) is getting old. Even Pippa dressed uncharacteristically somber.
The only story that reverberated the same way as some of last year’s bizarre little moments was when Grace Jones went on stage to sing “Slave to the Rhythm” while hula-hooping the entire time:
Bear in mind that according to reports in the Guardian, no one is quite sure how much the Diamond Jubilee costs, or how much of that cost the taxpayer is footing.
One estimate suggests that the British economy lost more than $1.9 billion by having an extra day of vacation for the celebrations. We also have to consider the day-to-day cost of the Royal family, who officially cost the British taxpayer £40 million ($61 million) a year (other estimates go as high as £200 million / $309 million). Last year’s Royal Wedding was reliably estimated to have cost the British economy between $5-10 billion, by the way — and just a few months later the youth of London were rioting in the streets.
Whatever that cost turns out to be, the only thing I will remember about the entire event in a few decades is Grace Jones hula-hooping. Quite what that has to do with the U.K. or the Queen I cannot fathom.
By the way, I believe that the Royals tend to be pretty nice people and the event seemed (aside from the moment of modern day serfdom) pretty well organised.
But the whole thing just highlighted to me that the Royals are a) very expensive and b) completely pointless.
PS: The tipping point for me was today’s insane cover of the Daily Star, featured below.
Photo: Twitter: @Skynews
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