Conservative Diary

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Something for the country (and the Cabinet) to cheer about

by Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-11-16 at 14.39.09 The wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, as she then was, brought people together by refreshing the affection which most of them have for the Monarchy and the Royal Family.  And in any event, nearly everyone likes a wedding.

The past is another country, but my memories of that period are a kind of montage of Margaret Thatcher, the Falklands War, the 1981 budget, Brideshead Revisited, red braces, the Royal Wedding itself, and a wave of national optimism.

Similarly, the break up of that marriage drove many people apart into a Prince's and Princess's camp respectively.  The consequences rocked the Monarchy, exemplified in the crisis that followed the Princess's death later.  Funeral followed wedding.

Again, my memories are a blur, but they jumble together John Major, the ERM fiasco, the Maastricht Treaty, Canary Wharf, the Jubilee line, George Soros, and a wave if not of pessimism then of a certain helplessness.

The engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton is at one level a happy family occasion - ConservativeHome wishes the couple every joy - and at another a symbol of the Monarchy and Royal Family's apparently inexhuastable capacity to renew itself.  Engagement follows funeral.

I won't be the last to ask if the wedding next year will help spark the same sense of recovered national self-confidence that Britain saw during the early '80s.  It certainly won't do the Government any harm.  That's what the Cabinet think, anyway.

After all, they gave a "great cheer" and there was "a great banging of tables" and banged the table when the Prime Minister announced the news at Cabinet this morning.  I think there was more to that reaction than goodwill alone.


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