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OK UK?: The Royal Wedding...
Paying For A Wedding...
As Kate and William are now joined in holy matrimony, a joyous occasion to be sure, I can not help but be a little concerned about the country as a whole...
Royal Weddings are England’s last great industry. As a child in England, you are regaled with tales of former glories. The Empire, for example, a proud bastion of all things repressive run by failed public school (US, private school) bureaucrats and kept in line by the army. (Also known as the working class on an adventure…)
And fables about our industrial might.
The newspapers in England still talk about captains of industry, but in reality there are only three. Sir Alan Sugar, Sir Richard Branson, and Lord Tesco (Ian MacLaurin). Once upon a time, we made stuff, lots of it, for the world to enjoy. We made ships, bridges, and cars (there were over fifty car manufacturers in their heyday), and now we make absolutely bugger all.
There was a campaign in the late sixties, early seventies, when the going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket years were at their peak, where some genius came up with a “Buy British” campaign. Many good old English pounds were spent on posters, badges, and other assorted tat. It raised an eyebrow or two when people noticed that the badges and tat had written (in very small print, mind you), “Made in Hong Kong.”
True, Hong Kong was a tiny remnant of the former empire that was still administered by the Brits, but we were in the process of giving it back to the Chinese because they have a really big, really scary army. Oh, and nearly all of our money. Then, horror of horrors, turns out they weren’t made in Hong Kong at all. The Chinese had gone 'all previous' on us, made them in China, and snuck the “Hong Kong” tag on, in a presumptive, or very foresighted, gesture.
Good one, Ministry of Stupid.
Outrage was shown, as always in Britain, by there being some very pointed questions in the House. MP’s got to shout at each other and wave papers about (dangerous, on an overfull stomach), leading to large amounts of nothing being done about it.
Things got so bad, the entire country was declared bankrupt and sold off to Germany and France. This was presented as joining the Common Market, the baby version of what is now called the European Union (which is in Europe, but absolutely not, in even the most rudimentary way, united.)
101% unemployment, rampant immigration (what were they thinking?), and never winning an Olympic anything, would cause rioting in most countries. Even so, thousands of people standing around with nothing to do started to get the attention of the UK politicians. Realizing that even the dullest Brit might figure something was up, the government pulled the proverbial ace out of its sleeve.
But, not immediately.
The first card played was the “we are fighting the metric system and keeping the pound sterling” tactic. Take that, you smelly European people! Ha! We could be proud once again of fighting for something of little or no value. (Not repeated until the next financial meltdown. Falklands anyone? Bush Wars I and II?)
Before the entire country imploded, the ace was put on the table. Charles and Diana were to wed. Unfettered joy reverberated around the empty factories and shipyards, as the country galvanized to meet the challenge of producing millions of tons of crap to commemorate the Royal nuptials.
True, most of the stuff was made in factories that had people in them, like in, say, China. But we made commemorative plates and complete fools of ourselves with gay abandon. You have to understand that every home in Britain has at least one commemorative plate on the wall, it might even be a law or something, and many have the full set. (Queen’s marriage, coronation, silver wedding, Anne’s wedding…)
The newspapers had a field day (where exactly does that term come from?) with its daily crop of Diana pictures: Diana driving, shopping, having her hair done, going to the gym, and wearing a see through skirt. (The Daily Mail headline read, I kid you not, Where’s Your Slip Young Lady? ) There was the occasional picture of Charles, but only if he was with Diana, him not being particularly photogenic and the polar opposite of sexy.
The vast army of unemployed people now had their days filled with reading news about Diana, watching the TV news about Diana, and talking about the weather. And Diana. Her ascension into media darling was immediate and meteoric. Charles (or more likely a marginally more hip flunky) then buys and shows off a spectacular engagement ring. (Yes, the very same one. Who says the Royals don’t know how to recycle…)
I felt for Diana. The future never-going-to-be-king-while-Her-Majesty-is-still-breathing, says, "Will you marry me?" What is she going to say? "Not with those ears, sonny boy." Or, "Let's wait until I’m eighteen." No, she knew the entire future of the country depended on her being newsworthy for the rest of her life.
The wedding took place in Westminster Abbey and most of the rest of London, with every single person in Britain either at the wedding, or watching it on TV. This event was so incredible, ordinary people came out of their houses and ate on long tables in the streets. People who hadn’t spoken to each other since The Blitz, wearing paper hats and union jack Tshirts, eating sausage rolls, and having a right old knees-up.
Normally staid Brits were seen with their arms around each other, beer in the spare hand, singing songs from WW II (which we won by the way, just like WW I). Diana had single handedly saved us from a fate worse than death. There was a very real sense that she had taken one for the team by lying in the wedding bed with Charlie boy (you have to admire the girl's pluck), laying the foundation for a love affair between Diana and the British public that has never really ended.
She dutifully produced the heir and spare, and then found herself a playboy. Her public genuinely mourned her death, and it left Charles free to marry the only woman less attractive than him in the entire universe. Prince William, a rare man who bears that title both in the vernacular, and in real life, asks for but one thing; his mother’s engagement ring.
So another Royal wedding is announced, and I wonder, how bad the economy is right now, back on the sceptered isle? If history is our guide, poor England is well and truly buggered...
Enjoy the show!
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