Topping the list of the most over-emphasised aspects of Friday's Royal Wedding was the origins of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton's family.
‘A granddaughter of a coal miner and the daughter of two former flight attendants marrying a prince!' gushed television reporters at every opportunity, as if to emphasise that the Royal Family was no longer out of reach.
The view has certainly caught on with some. A woman in the dense crowd along the processional route to the Buckingham Palace had pasted a sign reading ‘‘Kate and William's Future Daughter in Law, -- on her baby's pram.'' Princess Prep, a week-long summer boot camp in London replete with daily etiquette lessons is attracting moneyed 8 to 11 year olds from across the world.
While some pondered the amazing fortune of the Middleton family, in reality it was the Royal Family that lucked out. The courtship and marriage of Prince William and Kate have imbued the Royals with a much-needed dose of modernity, somewhat belying the view that they were utterly out of touch (Prince Harry has never managed to shake off the incident where he appeared in a Nazi uniform at a fancy dress party) or a drain on the nation's resources at a time when households and government offices across the county were reining in their spending (The British tax payer spent around £20 million on security costs for the wedding, with the rest paid for by the Queen and the Middletons).
Still, the wedding divided the country -- membership of organisations such as anti-monarchist group Republic has risen sharply ever since the wedding was announced. ‘‘While I wish Kate and Will every happiness as I would any married couple, you have to remember at least a third of Britons would rather have an elected head of state, rather than one not based on merit,'' said Peter Tatchell, a well-known human rights activist who supports Republic, pointing to some of the less-savoury aspects of the monarchy, including a head of state being unable to marry a Catholic, and a first-born girl child being passed over in favour of a younger brother.
There is yet to be a definitive cost-benefit analysis of the wedding, with some arguing that the influx of tourists was somewhat offset by the large number of high-spending Brits who had simply left the country over the entire Easter and wedding period. Many Britons also used the opportunity of the bank holiday to escape the country, while others used the opportunity to visit usually teaming shops.
Nevertheless, around 25 million Brits tuned in to watch the ceremony, while another million -- a decent mixture of locals and tourists -- either lined the processional route or filled Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square to watch the ceremony on giant television screens. While there was a good amount of flag waving, and quirky costumes – couples dressed as Will and Kate, or in smart wedding outfits -- what perhaps best summed up the mood were the popular T-shirts with the slogan ‘Thank You For The Day Off.'
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