The royal wedding

The royal wedding proved a great occasion.   At the centre was clearly a happy couple – smiling and waving throughout – and operating in the context of a ceremony that was flawless.   When it comes to pageantry, we have few equals.  The day was not only a great one for the couple, but also for the monarchy, for the country (feel-good factor, international coverage) and for London.  

I had to attend a seminar at the British Academy, in Carlton House Terrace, at lunchtime on Thursday.  This entailed walking across Parliament Square and along Horse Guards Parade to the Mall.  Getting through the crowds was quite an exercise.  The place was packed, not least with overseas visitors.  There were already people camped out ready for the wedding.   Still, working into the evening on Thursday – my office overlooking Westminster Abbey – meant I got to hear the choir rehearsing. 

The wedding will, I suspect, enhance the recent increase in support for skipping a generation in the succession to the crown.   This, however, is not that simple (never mind the merits of the case).  The legal position is quite clear.  Upon the demise of the Queen, Prince Charles becomes king.  The Privy Council meets to issue a Proclamation, but this is a formality: it has no effect on the legal position.  Skipping a generation, the same as with an abidication (or moving from preferential male primogeniture to absolute primogeniture), requires legislation and consultation with other nations of which the monarch is head of state.   In any event, I suspect the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will wish to spend some years trying to live as ‘normal’ a life as possible.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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15 Responses to The royal wedding

  1. franksummers3ba says:

    Lord Norton,

    I appreciate your commentary on the wedding (for which I had beseeched you out of context below the “Who will win?” post). I thought the wedding was an excellent example of many forms of success. Not the least of which was, that while showing some nerves themselves, I thought the happy couple projected an air both royal and relaxed better than is almost ever done including in weddings of his relatives in my lifetime. I also appreciate the relative modesty of saying you have very few rivals in pageantry which is clearly well deserved but is infinitely more modest than the “no rivals at all” claim I have heard so often this weekend. I feel that the King of Thailand’s diamond Jubilee, any Papal coronation, the Openings of the last two Summer Olympics are the rivals in which company this wedding need feel no shame and among which it has much to boast of — and yet they are surely entitled to be rivals. Each very different than the others.

    I think that allowing the royals to determine the guest list will at least potentialy have far-reaching consequences. From my point of view the choices made were justified although had that thin line been crossed into a State wedding the government would have been faulted for not issuing a number of invitations.

    I am an enthusiatic supporter of likablity in those with very high social stations when such a thing is affordable in a circumstance. I think TRH Prince and Princess William of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are among the most likable royals on the world stage– and that is neither a bad nor a trivial thing. To start every negotiation with a little goodwill cannot urt the UK much.

    • Lord Norton says:

      franksummers3ba: Carl.H has also expressed similar sentiments in response to the ‘Royal Succession’ post. Anyone making claims as to being the world’s greatest at anything need to ensure they have done a comprehensive comparative study. On this occasion, I thought the organisation was exceptional. It was, after all, a one-off occasion and not something that is a regular event – like Trooping the Colour or the State Opening of Parliament – where the manuals are well thumbed.

  2. Peta says:

    Due to my trip being unexpectedly cut short, I returned from America in time to watch the wedding on television. I lost count of the people at LAX who wanted to know if I was returning for the occasion and was charmed by the enthusiasm and interest shown in the event. I agree with Lord Norton “The day was not only a great one for the couple, but also for the monarchy, for the country (feel-good factor, international coverage) and for London.”

  3. Jonathan says:

    Happily, it’s highly likely the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will have plenty of time to live a “normal” life, with maybe 20 years before they even become the Prince and Princess of Wales. The question of male primogeniture may have to be addressed much sooner, if they have a daughter first!

    • Carl.H says:

      Would Princess Anne come into contention if changed ?

      • Jonathan says:

        Not really into contention. The Princess Royal and her offspring would move ahead of the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex and their children, but that would be rather academic, with Charles, William, his children and Harry all ahead of her in the line.

      • Lord Norton says:

        Indeed. The Princess Royal would move from ninth in line to fourth, but as Jonathan indicates it is rather an academic point.

  4. Chris K says:

    I had great fun standing opposite Buckingham Palace. We walked from South Kensington and arrive just after 5am.

    Couldn’t really see much. And as I had a pre-digital camera I couldn’t see whether the photos I took while holding the camera in the air were any good. But it was super to be there. The policemen were very smart and polite too.

  5. Gar says:

    Those camping out are only doing so because they have been advised by tourist agencies that because there is a wedding on, they are allowed to do so, provided that they say they are doing so to “get a good view, good place” and so on.

    The large numbers of people apparently coming a long way, to see the happy couple, are in fact those who are in London sight seeing on that particular day in any case, and know that they will see something unusual to add to their recollections and photographs.

    The BBC bluff about the four corners of the earth watching with all eyes, is just so much nonsense, and Lord Norton knows better than to be taken in by it.

    The show is certainly a good one, quite out of place in the modern world.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Gar: I doubt if there are usually a million tourists in London on most Fridays in April. I didn’t spot many people interviewed who said they had not come especially for the occasion. I equally doubt if the foreign media who covered the event in such numbers felt they were wasting their time.

    • Jonathan says:

      This sounds like a republican in desperate denial! The people camping out are just normal tourists looking for a free night’s say? All the spectators would have been in London anyway?

      Have you ever been to London, Gar? There are crowds of tourists around Westminster Abbey, but nothing like that. There’s always a crowd for the Changing of the Guard, but it’s minuscule compared to Friday. 400,000 extra people travelled into London by train. Purely a coincidence, I suppose? The road past my home was as quiet as during an England international football match during the service (and for comparison, it wasn’t so at that time any other day this long weekend).

      Do you know anyone in another county, Gar? I know a few – not ex-pats – and they were watching.

      Other countries are proud of their institutions, and treasure them, even though they have very little history behind them. Our traditions are steeped in history, and we should be proud of them too. And in fact, the majority of people are, as Friday showed – a rare occasion where we see people other than the vocal minority who are always posting on the web calling for a republic, anarchy, AV, or whatever it is.

      Ultimately, if you don’t like the constitutional arrangements in this Kingdom, there are a whole host of bland republics you can go and choose from. We won’t miss you!

    • Frank W. Summers III says:


      The ratings for the Royal wedding in the United States are hard to dtermine because of the large number of media which provided a good deal of coverage in a variety of forms. However, I can say that they were collossal, enormous, HUGE and vast audience ratings and feel that I am not stretching things much. TLC, ABC,NBC,CBS, Fox, FNC, Reelz, BBCA, MSNBC, and several superstations gavewhat I would call extensive coverage as well as most of the major syndicated players who do magazine shows for local stations national free slots. In addition our late night comics made jokes about the wedding for almost a week which is the surest indicator of what is the hottest topic in the country.

      • franksummers3ba says:

        Having listyed this ages ago I did not mention CNN which had excellent coverage and which I watched a good bit during the event and after…

  6. Carl.H says:

    Gar I’m terribly sorry, Kate is a lovely girl but she is taken now. Please show a little maturity.

    1 million there on the day
    24.4 Million watching live on UK terrestial TV
    Approx 2 billion Worldwide

    TV showed people from Australia, USA and Canada all of whom stated they had come over and camped out specifically for the wedding. They showed English Mothers with children off school, warranting £100 fine per child, camped out 2 days before.

    On the internet you can find all the stories of all the different timezones who made a special effort to watch it. The BBC website suffered undue stress and nearly buckled because of worldwide interest. People like Baroness Murphy, a staunch republican, even ended up watching and enjoying the spectacle.

    How many camera crews from how many Nations were there? Do you think they would have come without a viewing audience ?

    It’s ok to doubt, Thomas, but denial of what is in front of your eyes is silly. 😉

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