Not even the overblown pomp, ritual and ceremony surrounding Friday’s royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will dilute the direct, emotional connection that the people of England clearly feel to the couple. Just like in one of the cycle from Shakespeare’s history plays, the wheel of time has spun full turn: a romance has followed the bitter tragedy of Diana’s death.
One of the lessons from this truly traumatic episode is, in my view, that the UK’s mainstream media is marginal to the relationship between a people and a monarchy in Britain, and its banal coverage, manipulative polls and celebrity circus can be ignored. The essential relationship between the people and, indeed, any leadership figure resembles much more the kind of organic and emotionally strong bond that is described in Shakespeare’s plays where heroic figures engage in direct banter and chat with their altruistic and rowdy subjects.
Anyone who gave weight to the media’s coverage of Princess Diana would certainly have missed this bond, and could never have predicted the impact that her death would have on the people of England.
The media gave a distorted picture of Diana’s character, portraying her as a flighty celebrity, a superfluous extra to the main royal show, a nobody who was expendable as soon as she had performed the function allotted to her by the Queen Mother and produced heirs to the throne, and so on and on and on.
In fact, the people took to the streets in their millions in an unprecedented display of protest at Diana’s death in a car crash, believed for obvious reasons to have been a murder. The strength of the desire to come to the defence of Diana was such that the monarchy – rightly or wrongly seen as the perpetrators of the crime — teetered on the edge of being swept away for a several amazing days.
Perhaps because Diana was from the ancient Spencer family, she did not need to study Shakespeare to know how to relate to the people of England. It was in her DNA. At any rate, she established the kind of rapport and emotional connection that Shakespeare considered the sine qua non of successful leadership, but this happened underneath the media’s radar screen and, if it appeared at all in the media, it was largely mocked or trivialised as an outpouring of celebrity culture. Read the rest of this entry »