Monday, April 04, 2005

Never criticize the King and Queen

One afternoon in a bookstore I happened across this amusing reprint of instructions issued by the War Depatment to American soldiers who were headed to Britain in 1942. There was a line at the end that said something like, "And whatever you do, never criticize the King and Queen, because this will really offend Britons."

How times have changed:
The British news media, never particularly friendly to Charles, has seized on each misstep, each gaffe, each potential impediment [of the upcoming royal wedding] with undisguised glee. "These bloody people," the prince muttered about the news media on the ski slopes last week and, in a way, you can't really blame him.

Not only was the outburst front-page news but in the last week or so, a Daily Mail article making the point that older women look dreadful in jeans was illustrated by a huge photograph of Mrs. Parker Bowles, wearing jeans and looking dreadful. And in The Telegraph, the writer Pam Ayres, asked to produce a poem for the occasion, came up with "Dejected Thoughts on the Royal Wedding," just four lines long:

My mother said 'Say nothing,
If you can't say something nice.'
So from my poem you can see
I'm taking her advice.
I especially enjoyed this analysis:
When exactly such attitudes changed is a matter of debate. It may have been when Queen Elizabeth II made her mystique-shattering decision to cooperate with "Royal Family," a comically anodyne 1969 documentary that showed Prince Philip tending a family barbecue. Or it may have been the broadcast, in 1987, of "It's a Royal Knockout," a charitable money-raising venture in which celebrities and royals like Prince Andrew and his wife at the time, Sarah Ferguson, ran around in muddy fields, pelting each other with fake hams and playing games while dressed as giant vegetables.


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