Wednesday, 20 April 2011

'Some day our prince will come' ?

Like many other sane people I'm groaning under the weight of the media frenzy surrounding the marriage of William Windsor and Kate Middleton.

I find myself reaching for the calendar to remind myself that - yes it is really 2011 and still we are having to endure this monarchic nonsense. But on reflection there is a fairly recent new twist to this reincarnation of the people's princess: 

Previous royal-worshipping has been underpinned by deference and difference. They might display an occasional  condescending/endearing 'common touch' but ultimately the message is that the royals are simply better than the likes of you and me.  This time around though the message is that Kate is actually just like us. You know the sort of thing - her great grand-father was a miner and she's the ultimate girl next door (assuming you live in a fucking big house in Berkshire). 

Consequently her social trajectory is being portrayed as the ultimate evidence of an open society and the fulfilment of  some sort of American dream played in tweed and pearls.

In different ways the issue of social mobility has popped up in a few recent posts. In particular how  the most meaningful vehicle for social mobility - universally accessible free education to the highest level the individual is capable of attaining - is now being denied.  

In that context the whole  Middleton-phenomena is quite significant. It draws a line under the meritocratic mythology of the post-war boom - of working class boys done good through their own efforts and abilities - whether it was the grammar school technocrats of the Wilson era or  the cheeky geezers of swinging London. In it's place we have a return to the Cinderella story of the poor working  girl who becomes a princess.  

Of course having aspirational parents who own a successful business, a £1 million property in the shires, and being hockey captain at £30,000 a year Marlborogh College does give a girl a bit of a head start...

1 comment:

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