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The division bell


The big announcement

“Kate had been dubbed ‘Waity Katy’ amid criticism she was hanging on for a proposal and did not have a proper job but now her wait is finally over.”
Daily Mail, 17th Nov

Joe Little

“We’d been expecting it a long time, yet it still seemed to catch everybody unawares. The timing wasn’t great for us because the December issue was at the printers and it was perhaps the only time in my career when I’ve been able to say ‘hold the front page!’. Obviously it’s good news for them and it’s good news for us, too.”

Graham Smith

“We weren’t enthusiastic about the announcement of the wedding but realise it’s an opportunity for us. We want to make two points. One, that the taxpayer should not be expected to foot the bill, and two, that lots of people aren’t that interested and don’t appreciate the saturation coverage. They aren’t excited about two not very relevant people getting married.”

Saturation coverage

“This morning’s nine daily national newspapers published a remarkable 120 pages [of royal wedding coverage] between them, including various ‘souvenir pull-outs’.”
Evening Standard, 17th Nov

Joe Little

“Is press reaction ever proportional to public interest? The initial reaction was very positive but when you’ve got pages and pages for days afterwards people get a little bit overwhelmed, and I know the red tops’ sales dipped considerably; perhaps there was just too much information. It was too much for me and I’ve got a vested interest in this, and for the general public it was a little bit excessive. These things don’t happen too often, but nevertheless, all things in moderation.”

Graham Smith

“It was completely over the top. The opinion polls that came out the following weekend showed there was a high level of uninterest. I think 48 percent said they weren’t that interested and 5 percent said they’d leave the country for the day of the wedding.”

Apathy and skepticism

“Beyond the headlines and photo opportunities, it was not hard to detect notes of dissent and skepticism, especially on social media”.
CNN, 19th Nov

Joe Little

“There is a large amount of apathy but when we came up to the Queen’s Golden Jubilee the newspapers said ‘nobody’s interested’, but it had over a million people on the streets. People do get sucked into these big events and there obviously is a liking for the monarchy. The royals suffered considerably when Diana died because they were given a bad press for all manner of things they weren’t necessarily responsible for, but mud sticks and the damage was done. With William and Kate you have a bit of youth and glamour. The world is going through a rough time with the global recession and it’s a bit of good news in the midst of all the doom and gloom.”

Graham Smith

“There’s overwhelming indifference. And I don’t think
there’s a huge jump between indifference and republicanism. Our job is to bridge that gap. They’ve stopped caring, but it’s our job to say ‘don’t think it’s benign, don’t think it’s powerless, realise what the monarchy does and that there is a positive alternative’. It’s a leap that’s going to be a lot easier in the future because the residual attachment to the monarch is very much tied in with the Queen. At the end of her reign people will start thinking ‘what’s the point of keeping it?’ because all we’ve got are a bunch of self-important princes with a deep sense of entitlement.”

The wedding and the economy

“The royal wedding will generate a bumper £620 MILLION boost to the economy”
The Sun, 17th Nov

“Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton will
cost the economy £5 billion by creating consecutive four-day weekends in April”
The Daily Telegraph, 23rd Nov

Joe Smith

“These numbers are very hard to quantify. There’s a long-
established thought that the monarchy is good for tourism, but I’ve yet to come across anybody who comes to Britain specifically for that purpose. I imagine it’s a by-product. It’s going to benefit the china manufacturers, who seem to be doing quite well, but the nation as a whole benefiting seems rather unlikely. I’ve also read it will be detrimental to industry because a day’s output will be lost.”

Graham Smith

“I think The Sun’s numbers are complete nonsense. We’ve got some evidence – and we’re still working on this – that at previous weddings tourism went down in those years. The crucial point is that it’s going to be a public holiday and according to the CBI the cost of a public holiday is £1-£6 billion.”

Covering the costs

“Policing and security costs for the event will almost certainly be met by the state”
 The Guardian, 16th Nov

John Little

“You can only impose so much on the royal family. If the public are happy to join in the fun it’s really not expected for the royal family to put their hands in their pockets and contribute to the cleaning. There will be an awful lot of sour grapes when costs become public nearer the time. There’ll be a huge amount of tut-tutting but you get that with any major event, royal or otherwise.”

Graham Smith

“The royal family should pay for everything. If you hold a major public event in London you have to pay for it, and that includes policing, cleaning and all the rest. Councils and police forces shouldn’t find themselves with a big bill because somebody wants to hold a parade or festival – the organisers have to pay and the same is true for the Windsors. If they can’t afford it they should have a smaller event they can afford.”

Britain’s reputation overseas

“This royal fairytale and our reactions to it expose many of the worst aspects of British society.
Unlike America where climbing the social ladder is celebrated, Britons find the idea people of moving beyond
one’s social class both desirable and at the same time repellent.”
New Statesman, 19th Nov

John Little 

“It won’t do our reputation any harm. Everybody still seems to like a royal wedding and that’s something Britain is particularly good at putting on, so if history is anything to go by it will reflect well and show we’re capable of putting on a good show when circumstances permit.”

Graham Smith

“It will reinforce stereotypes about Britain and British people.
About us being backward, traditional, conservative and deferential to authority. Most people in emerging democracies are going to look at us with a sense of bemusement. They won’t see much to admire in seeing lots of people unquestioningly admire a rich family.”

Charles and Diana’s wedding

“Their wedding, in opulent St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981, was a pure fairytale affair, watched by a worldwide TV audience of more than 750 million”
Daily Mail, 16th Nov

John Little

“I’m inclined to think the public is not as supportive
of the monarchy as it was when Charles and Diana married. We’ve moved on. It’s very much a celebrity age nowadays and the younger element is perhaps more interested in the likes of Cheryl Cole and David Beckham. The royal family are no longer role models in the way they may once have been. When the Queen was young and then when she married she was regarded as an inspiration, but we’ve moved on considerably since then.”

Graham Smith

“Support for getting rid of the monarchy is 20% and has been around this level for a little while now. But that other 80% has become a lot softer. It’s more a case of indifference now. People don’t respect the authority of the monarchy, they don’t respect its privacy, they don’t respect the individuals, they don’t want to pay towards it, and they don’t respect the fundamental logic of it. There are polls showing most people want William instead of Charles. It doesn’t work like that. If you want a choice, don’t have a monarchy. If we can win that simple argument, that people ought to be asked, that’s a big nail in the coffin of the monarchy.”

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