Melanie Phillips

2 May 2011

A joyful day... and, oh, what a rebuke to the sour-faced whiners of the Left

Published in: Daily Mail

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For one glorious, uplifting, joyful day it was as if the everyday world had been faded out from the video screen and another picture altogether had taken its place.

Gone were the things that grind us down, terrify us, bore us rigid or turn us off altogether.

The economic crisis, war, voting reform, venal politicians and their idiotic name-calling, the endless litany of official incompetence, the vulgarity and ugliness of TV voyeurism and binge-drinking, the habitual cynicism and grey-faced indifference of the public in the face of all this: it all vanished from view.

Instead, there was quite simply an explosion of public joy at the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Britain beamed, cheered, laughed, gasped, threw its collective hat into the air and choked with emotion.

And this was not merely generous-minded delight at the happiness of the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

It was an eruption of feeling that some would have had us believe had vanished for ever: a profound affection and support for the monarchy — and for the Britain that it embodies.

For me, as I’m sure for many others, what brought a lump to the throat was not just the poignant spectacle of Prince William, the casualty of the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, receiving his radiant bride in the very place where as a teenager he had stood by his mother’s coffin.

It was also the roar of approval that went up from the huge crowds outside Westminster Abbey when he and his bride uttered the words ‘I will’.

It was the enormous cheer for the Queen as she stepped out of her car at the Abbey door. And it was the full-throated singing of the National Anthem by the throng that stretched down the Mall.

Some would have us believe that it is all over for the monarchy. They paint it as the anachronistic, class-ridden and discredited residue of a country that must shed its history, traditions and very identity in the interests of multiculturalism, diversity and equality.

Last Friday showed up this claim for the unpleasant piece of wish-fulfilment that it is. For the reported million or so who turned out to line the streets, and the many millions more gulping with emotion over their TV screens, were not some ideological fantasy of social engineering but the real people of Britain.

And they want what the British people have always wanted: a monarchy that reflects a collective image of themselves and of their country that they can admire.

That includes characteristics they yearn for (although maybe cannot always achieve): a happy family life, stoicism in the face of adversity, courage and selflessness, duty and sobriety, and the sense of sharing in a worthy collective national project. Only the monarchy, standing as it does above and beyond politics, can sustain this benign projection of national aspiration.

Which is why, although it embodies the particular history and traditions of these islands, it gives people from diverse cultures and faiths something uniquely valuable with which they can all connect.

In a society which appears to be creating more and more that painfully divides us, the monarchy is the one institution that actually unites the nation.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography


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Melanie Phillips
Daily Mail
Northcliffe House
2 Derry Street
London W8 5TT

Contact Melanie