The politics of the Windsor-Middleton Merger

Terrific column by Nick Cohen.

As if to distract us from the thought that Kate Middleton will discover that love is a thing that can always go wrong in the House of Windsor, Buckingham Palace added a Balkan touch to its “fairy-tale wedding”. A man it called “King Constantine of the Hellenes” was in Westminster Abbey. “Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia” and one “King Simeon II of Bulgaria” were included on the guest list, too. And, as if to make Dorothy Parker’s point for her, they were joined by “King Michael I of Romania”.

But while there was a Marie of Romania – queen from 1914 to 1927 – there is no King Michael I. Greece, Bulgaria and Romania all deposed their monarchies, and even after the brutal experience of fascism and communism, no one could persuade their citizens to take them back. Meanwhile, the Palace’s “Alexander of Yugoslavia” not only has no throne, but also claims the title of a country that no longer exists except on old maps of cold war Europe.

The royal family’s willingness to ban Labour prime ministers from the wedding has already told us much about the monarchy’s ideology. After that cheap snub, I hope to hear less self-deluding babble from Labour leaders about the Windsors being “above politics”. If they cannot see that royal rule is a justification for conservatism, surely they must now realise that royals are Tories and their political opponents.

The Windsors’ decision to address deposed monarchs as if they were sovereigns rather than private citizens is, if anything, more revealing. A king is still a king in their eyes. Even if “his” people don’t want him, divine right or dead tradition gives him a presumptuous and ineradicable claim to be head of state…

Great stuff. I wondered as I read the guest list why the descendants of the Tsar had been excluded.