So, Prince William and Catherine (Kate) Middleton got hitched at Westminster Abbey. Their Royal Wedding Invite List is now a historic document, though not quite up there with Magna Carta or the Abdication Speech. The names excluded from it reveals more than who made it to the “Wedding of the Decade”.
First of all, the good news. Among those who received invitations, aside from family and a smattering of old school chums, were Elton John and David Furnish. David and Victoria Beckham were also on the A-list. Another former England footballer, Sir Trevor Brooking and ex-England rugby coach Clive Woodward both received happy news in the post.
Sportiest Royal Wedding invite list ever
Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen (who no one seems to have heard of), a few villagers from the Middleton’s home of Bucklebury, and TV adventurer Ben Fogle were surprise guests. Comedian and writer Rowan Atkinson made it into the frame as a long-time friend of the Royals. Though the inclusion of mockney film director Guy Ritchie surprised me. Julia Samuel, the head of the Child Bereavement Charity got an invite, as did Help for Heroes founders Bryn and Emma Parry.
One or two wounded servicemen, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and singer Joss Stone got invites. As did former Prime Ministers Lady Margaret Thatcher and Sir John Major. Maggie was too ill to attend though I notice mental illness didn’t stop her sinking the Belgrano back in 1982, did it?). But Tony Blair and Gordon Brown didn’t make the Royal Invitation List.
Maggie Thatcher: “In! In! In!”
Royal spokespersons gave two reasons for this. One was that Margaret Thatcher and John Major had personal connections with Prince William. (Major was apparently appointed a guardian after the death of Princess Diana – though why the two Princes would need guardians when they had a living father is anybody’s guess.) And the other was that Thatcher and Major are both Knights of the Garter and Blair and Brown are not.
In a parallel situation, Eton-educated Boris Johnson, Conservative Mayor of London, was invited, but not his Labour predecessor, Ken Livingstone. (To be honest, no one really expected Ken to get an invite, except maybe Ken.) Nevertheless, there was enough room in the Abbey to include Tories William Hague, Theresa May, George Osborne, Ken Clarke, and Jeremy Hunt. And all their spouses.
Dr David Loony Chips In
The right-wing historian Dr David Starkey appeared on Channel 4 News and seemed to nail it. That he’s now billed as “Britain’s leading historian” is presumably because he’s on the telly a lot.
He’d appeared on Sky News on the evening of the wedding and said: “I think the plain truth is that for all sorts of reasons, (Prince) William developed a powerful dislike of Mr Blair. Particularly the way in which he intervened at his mother’s funeral service. These are not political at all, they are personal choices.”
Presumably, Gordon is perceived in Royal circles as another pea from the same oiky pod.
That same evening Dr Starkey was on Channel 4 News again. It’s amazing how historians get around when there’s a fee on offer. He described the event as a “typical public school wedding”. He implied that “nice people” like William and Kate do not invite beastly types like Blair to their social occasions.
Let’s face it, former Etonian David Cameron and Westminster old boy Nick Clegg are more the Royal Family’s kind of people than those terrible Socialists. The same goes for political colleagues, William Hague, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson.
Old School Wedding
Of course, they had to invite Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (Haverstock Comprehensive). But once he’d arrived and taken his pew, the BBC pretended he wasn’t there. The media spent much more time focussing on the mating head-dresses worn by a couple of Royal Princesses.
You can’t really blame the BBC. The new Tory-LibDem coalition froze the Licence Fee. Then saddled them with new financial burdens such as the Welsh S4C channel and the World Service budget. It’s not surprising they want to head off accusations of left-wing bias by swinging carefully to the Right.
It’s all getting very 1980s, isn’t it?
You can tell William and Kate never travel by proper train otherwise, they would have had to exclude Major merely on the grounds of his having privatised the railways in 2004. Surely being a Tory knight can’t be enough to erase that legacy? And if space was at a premium, maybe that’s why they couldn’t include any old riff-raff such as road-sweepers, dustmen and former Labour prime ministers, couldn’t Gordon Brown have been given Maggie’s vacant seat?
Among the many (including 99.99% of Labour Party members) who didn’t make it onto the Royal Wedding invite list were Lady Diana’s friend Sarah Ferguson, The Obamas, and Mohamed Al-Fayed. When you think back to his connections with William’s late Mum, you’d have thought Mr Al-Fayad would have been a shoo-in.
Just goes to show how wrong you can be.