16 November 2010

Walter Bagehot is Smiling

Well the Royals are going to have wedding. And the young prince has bestowed his late mum's engagement ring on the princess-to-be. (The baubles are reported to have been worth thirty thousand pounds in 1981, so with inflation ... not a bad pay day for the young lady!) No sooner had the excitement begun to gather than the London correspondent for The Nation had the temerity to point out that the nuptials would nicely distract everyone from the Tory budget cuts and from the deal to buy off torture victims. You can find her comments here. I suppose I am not quite cynical enough to buy this line of thinking. But then again, Walter Bagehot pretty much assigned this role to the Royals way back when (see The English Constitution - 1867). While the Cabinet is, on his view, the "efficient secret" of British politics allowing the government to exercise power, the Royals are the "dignified" or symbolic dimension of that politics, being mostly useful for distracting the attention of the common man from the machinations of real politics. So, on second thought, maybe I am cynical enough . . .

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