Prince William and Kate Middleton appear to be a personable, attractive young couple, and as with the news of anyone’s wedding, no reasonable person can wish them anything but health and happiness for the future.
The problem is, that unless you’re closeted on Mars or sequestered in some isolated Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas, every detail of this couples’ forthcoming nuptials (or at least the anodyne and heavily edited version of them that will be served up for public consumption this side of the Wedding) will be blasted at us in an orgy of publicity from almost every media outlet. Of course, to state the obvious, this is not an ordinary couple: one half is a future heir to the throne of the United Kingdom.
Because of this, what has started this past week and what we will now have to endure until the Wedding actually takes place will be an exercise in gushing sycophancy. The notion that we are a mature, healthy early 21st century democracy which has transcended the class based, deferential, forelock tugging norms of such periods as the Victorian era, are instantly belied by the infantile, reverential tones that the British public will be subjected to in relation to William and Kate, aka the “Royal Couple”.
Otherwise sober, normally impartial broadcasters such as the BBC and broadsheet newspapers will adopt the same pose of honeyed phrases and breathless commentary on the most obscure minutiae in relation to the build-up to the “wedding”. All striving to project an idealised vision, to which the word “fairytale” can really only be the most appropriate description.
When it comes to coverage of Royalty, the British media loses it for long periods. Any scintilla of objectivity, far less the merest hint of sceptism is swept aside in favour of this fantasy, fairytale construction in the belief that this is want readers and viewers want served up to them. Probably, up to the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, the media were on to something. But now after thirty-odd years of martial breakdowns, infidelity and scandal after scandal, the glitter and aura of Royalty looks decidedly tarnished in the eyes of a substantial proportion of the British people. In spite of all the trappings and regalia, they are merely mortals subject to the same weaknesses and failings as the rest of us and most of us want them to be treated that way: neither worse nor better than anyone else, with some degree of fairness and balance.
And that, I regret to say, is the problem for the young couple. Sycophancy knows no balance or indeed objectivity. Like all celebrities, the coverage of Royalty veers from sickening adulation to derisive, merciless mockery and intrusion as, surprise, surprise our royal heroes are revealed to have feet of clay witness the relentless coverage of Diana (though to be fair, she was no innocent when it came to self-publicity). All that gushing praise currently being heaped upon Kate and William, can easily turn into its vicious opposite.
As for most of the rest of us I suspect it’s a case of selective use of the remote control and avoiding the worst excesses of the press coverage until it’s all over, while the real world of austerity and cutbacks has to be confronted.
Of course, this could all so easily be avoided or at least toned down, if only the media, particularly the broadcasters such as the BBC, when covering Royalty, started to talk to us as ADULTS!