Long after the happy couple have sped off in his father’s Aston I feel duty bound as a Brit abroad to comment on Friday’s extravaganza. It was just another day at work for me as we didn’t have the day off, I didn’t feel it was important enough to take a days holiday nor was I invited to the British Embassy for flag-waving and cocktails. On reflection, I find the latter rather annoying, not that I expect to be hobnobbing with the British elite in Warsaw but there are precious few opportunities like this for the Embassy to generate a bit of team spirit amongst the Brit community so the fact that they wasted this one says it all really. Perhaps they were all round at Count Komorowski’s place having tea and biscuits. Who cares about us commoners.
I thought the whole event was extremely well planned and executed by all the main players, most of all Westminster Abbey, which provided a glorious setting. For me though there was a rather a hollow ring to it all, a bit like a Broadway show put on by a cast list of overlooked has-been Hollywood stars. There’s no question that when it comes to putting on a show the British Royal family have all the right ingredients but, putting the Queen herself to one side, is there any real substance behind it all? Personally speaking, I have an enormous amount of respect for the Queen. I feel surprisingly attached to her and it will be an emotional time when she passes away. She’s been there my whole life having taken the crown six years before my birth and whilst there have been ups and downs she has been pretty consistent over the years and in my opinion has been as good a Queen as anyone would wish to have. If any criticism could be leveled at her it would be that she’s hung on too long when it might have been an idea to step down and let a younger generation take over. I think that would be fair criticism if not for the fact that, until now perhaps, she’s not had anyone with a safe enough pair of hands to pass the ball to. None of her immediate family – Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward – have been able to embrace the public in a way that would make them a welcome addition to our line of Monarchs. For myself, I’d go to war for the Queen but when she’s gone the rest can swivel. I honestly think their best hope now is that this marriage is one that lasts and that when the Queen dies or stands down it is William that takes the crown.
Enough of what I think, why so much TV coverage in Poland? Well there was clearly a lot of interest in the country albeit perhaps not that much more than you’d expect from any such event. It was nice for the Poles to put aside their “you didn’t help us in the war” issue for a day and enjoy the pageantry. The more likely reason for the extensive Polish TV coverage though is that it didn’t cost a penny! As Poland is a member of an organisation called something like ‘EuroTelly’ they got the live feeds for free so all they had to do is top and tail that with some local bits and they had hours of watchable TV for very little outlay. Cynical, perhaps, but it would be good to have seen how much they would have been prepared to pay for it.
I didn’t notice any Polish representation at the ceremony, apologies if I missed it, but that wouldn’t be surprising anyway given the way the guest list was put together. It was a ‘private’ event and not a ‘state’ one, as such there was a fair bit of protocol flexibility given leading to wonderful things like Blair and Brown being left out in the cold and the Syrian Ambassador having his invite rescinded. Surprising that Blair is left out as I was left with the distinct impression after watching the film “The Queen” that he was something of a Royal saviour. Being snubbed in this way can’t be doing his image (fee rates) much good.
There was a fair smattering of celebs there though to fill the empty seats. Britain’s Grand Dame, Sir Elton, flounced in with his hair and husband. Posh and Becks were there, of course, the most acceptable guests of high celeb status although he may have blotted his copybook by wearing his OBE on the wrong side. Shock, horror! It should be worn on the left, the right being where one would wear gongs attained by one’s deceased father. Perhaps it was just a jolly good joke, or an American thing, being as this was not a state affair.
Still, hallelujah that Posh’s headgear was relatively unobtrusive, which is more than you can say of Princess Beatrice, daughter of Fergie (of the “also-snubbed” variety as opposed to the Black-Eyed-Peas one). This monstrosity of a hat was visible from every angle the most annoying being (as Beatrice sat behind the Queen) the one where every shot of the Queen gave the impression she was being attacked by a giant squid! I suppose the hat served it’s purpose, getting the wearer noticed at all costs. Are they actually called hats these things? Don’t they have a special name like a ‘defibrillator’ or ‘glorytop’ or something?
The church ceremony went as well as can be expected. I thought the priests did a decent enough job within the constraints of their religion, any religion. I held my breath for a moment when her ring looked like being stubborn, I wondered why William didn’t get a ring, I wished she had spoken her lines a bit louder, I wondered whether the guests on the wrong side of the choir had some TVs to watch because I had a better view than they did.
Her brother had obviously been told far too many times to “slow down!” his speech. It was a little painful to listen to him uttering five words, counting to 20, uttering five more words…….. He stuck with it though so good for him. Must have felt like an eternity! Her sister did a good job too, bringing up the rear.
And so it all moved relentlessly back to Buck Pal and “the balcony scene”.
Nothing surprising here really. The fly-past was good but I’m having trouble with the fact that we still feel the need to roll out the WWII nostalgia on such occasions, on any occasion in fact. I know the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane are iconic but isn’t it a bit sad that we’ve got nothing more up to date to get excited about? I’ll have to assume these were for the Queen who really does have some relation to them. Neither the Tornado nor Typhoon that followed can really be called British so aside from a lame nod in the direction of jazzing up the event I didn’t really see the point of those either.
After that, what followed can really be summed up as a giant advertising campaign by Jaguar, another company that used to be British but isn’t any more.