It’s been an exciting year for the royals, with several weddings duly celebrated and plans for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee well underway. But throughout the run up to Wills and Kate’s big day, conversation was rife about whether a monarch should marry a commoner, and if this would damage the nobility of the royal family. Six months have now passed, and whilst this might seem like an out-dated topic of conversation, seeing a clip of Princess Beatrice in the audience of a TV show recording yesterday reminded me of the on-going questions regarding the sanctity of the monarchy and whether or not they should be well assimilated into everyday British culture.
There is no doubt that the royal family has had to change drastically with the times, and the fact that both the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry went to schools and university like common folk (okay, it was Eton, but still) has demonstrated their immersion into the lives of the ordinary. That princes could be educated alongside ‘average’ people would have been, several centuries ago, almost unthinkable. But perhaps things have now reached a stage where they have integrated themselves so far into common culture that much of their royal purity has been lost. The future King has married a former high street store accessory buyer, and a princess’s daughter has married a rugby player. There is nothing wrong with this, but it does appear as though the gap between the monarchy and commoners is ever dwindling.
This also brings to light debate over the need for the royals to be media savvy personalities, rather than just the elegantly waving deliverers of the annual Christmas speech. Until late childhood, the only thing I knew the Queen did was wave. In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure I know much more than that now, but the apparent necessity for the monarchy to seem approachable and ‘down with the kids’ is not one I entirely understand. I wrote a blog around Easter time discussing similar issues, but in reference to politicians. Again, there seems to be a huge social focus on their ability to laugh and joke with the public rather than judging them on what they are paid to do – run the country. It falls within a politician’s job description to effectively communicate with people, but aside from that, I couldn’t care less if their favourite band is Oasis or they love watching The X Factor.
The increasingly less subtle importance placed on media skills for the royal family, too, is one that seems in many ways extraneous to what they are there for. We expect them to trot around the globe making nice impressions of England and to receive flowers and gifts graciously when eager royalists gather to welcome them back onto home turf. Princess Beatrice’s appearance in the studio audience of Strictly Come Dancing was due to the fact she was there to support her friend Holly Valance. Yes, Holly Valance, the ex-Neighbours actress and musical powerhouse behind enduring hit ‘Kiss Kiss.’ This unlikely camaraderie further validates the rather un-royal-ness of the royals, and picturing the dynamics of the monarchy in Britain fifty years from now is certainly food for thought.
The point I think I’m trying to make here is that on the one hand, we are expected to view the royal family as demi gods amongst us, and on the other, we are encouraged to see them as being just like ourselves. Why someone’s fortunate birth should mean we quite literally obey them is arguably ridiculous altogether, but this post is not intended as a criticism of the monarchy, rather one of the way the media simultaneously venerates and repudiates their ‘work.’ One minute it’s ‘uh oh, there goes Harry dressed as a Nazi again,’ and the next it’s ‘leave them alone, they’re just ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives.’ Essentially, there does seem to be a kind of modern obsession with monarchs, politicians and the like resembling TV presenters, but the real focus should surely be upon what we pay our taxes for them to do.