Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hail to the Happy Couple: Now Give William a Real Role; Yesterday's Good News Reminds Us of the Power of the Monarchy -- and the Urgent Need to Reform It

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hail to the Happy Couple: Now Give William a Real Role; Yesterday's Good News Reminds Us of the Power of the Monarchy -- and the Urgent Need to Reform It

Article excerpt

Byline: Anne McElvoy

AT LAST -- a royal wedding! No more a waity nation. We can, as David Cameron enjoins, cheer the "unadulterated good news". Mrs Middleton's shooting lessons were not in vain. Nor did William ungallantly do what so many "friends" prophesied, by tarrying with Kate only to opt for someone else.

Having taken a leisurely stroll to the altar lasting some eight years, the First Couple will finally arrive there next summer. It's like a happy ending to our real-life Downton Abbey.

Whatever its recessionary woes, the country will hold street parties and consume as many memorial tea towels as the manufacturers can produce.

No wonder Cameron spoke of his staff "banging the table" in appreciation of the announcement. As one aide put it pragmatically: "It fills the gap nicely between now and the Olympics." Joyless sorts inclined to sneer at bread and circuses should reflect that the circuses are what we remember when the bread is in short supply.

My rational self is a bit unmoved because William is still a vague presence and Kate, though radiant in her Issa frocks, seems like a cipher.

Perhaps the royals never did concern themselves much with self-improvement, not having much need of it. But following the idle progression of the young 'uns through the Boujis and Mahiki years, it's hard to resist the thought that they might occasionally do something in their spare time besides nightclubbing and cavorting on their mates' farm acres.

It's too late for Kate to get a job (she's about to get one by joining The Firm anyway). It's high time, though, for her to get some consistent interests.

Is it absolutely impossible for the young royals to show any interest in the cultural life of the nation? They read history of art at a good university and never seem to actually do anything with it. I only ask.

It's quite a funny thing, though, the monarchy creeping up on us at odd moments, a tie that binds, however frayed.

I watched Remembrance Sunday with our two sons and the sight of the Queen, frail but still perfect in every protocol and expression as she commemorated young lives lost, could hardly fail to move. I wanted to say: "This is what it means to be British."

What came out was, simply: "Look, there's the Queen", which amounts to the same thing.

The monarchy is a connective thread that makes a lot of thoughts clear to us instinctively. It marks time for the nation like a steady metronome from my own primary school poems about Princess Anne's nuptials to the Kate and William show which will be a marker in my offspring's childhoods.

These are the blessings of stability we take for granted, having had them for so long.

William's wedding isn't just the culmination of a romance but the next step towards the job he is born to do -- with no serious sign that we want the royals to stop doing it. …

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