Do the Irish people care about the British royals? The Irish Daily Mail ( agus sin sceal eile) gives the answer today: it’s got an eight-page supplement on the engagement of young William Windsor to young Kate Middleton. Were the appetite not there, the paper wouldn’t waste paper and ink. It is, so they feed it.
The aim in the coming months will be to choreograph this as a fairytale engagement leading to a Cinderella wedding. The spinmeisters have arranged for young Willie to give Kate his mother’s sapphire engagement ring. The train of thought is obvious: everyone in Britain (with the exception of the Windsors) loved the dear departed Di, so giving this ring will remind people that Willie is Di’s son, ergo the public will be weak-kneed with affection for the boy and his bride-to-be. QED and Clever. Like putting a blonde beside the car for sale: emotions aroused by the blonde, it’s hoped, will blind the buyer to the car’s several dents and scratches.
It could work, except that the wear and tear are so obvious. For a start, Willie ‘n’ Kate have been together for ten years now, with a number of bust-ups and on-again-off-agains in between, so it’s not exactly your virgin bride we’re talking here. As for the ring, while it reminds the British people of their much-loved Di, it also reminds them of the fact that she was engaged in a knock-down-drag-out fight with the Windsors and ended up dead. Not the kind of thinking you want to cluster around young Kate.
But it's difficult to avoid thinking along those lines. Remember that bum-clenching interview Charles Windsor had when he got engaged to Di? A reporter asked him if they were in love. Charlie hesitated and I think she answered for both:‘Yes of course". To which Charlie added, looking very sardonic: ‘Whatever love is’’. Hardly hot to trot, was he?
Nobody asked Willie about love yesterday but his body-language was so reminiscent of his father thirty years before, there really wasn’t much need. The future king of England kept looking away from his bride-to-be. She was often several steps behind him. Together, they exuded all the warmth of a middle-aged couple mildly bored and irritated with each other.
But hey – none of that will deter Irish fans from buying into the myth. In his dystopian vision 1984, George Orwell painted a world where black was white, war was peace and truth was lies. The difference is, the 1984 rulers had to work hard to keep people in check. In Ireland today, there’s a sizeable population perfectly willing to check and deceive themselves.