Royal revenge: 'We had to draw the line somewhere'

The Queen doesn't like him, so he wasn't invited. But the snub to Tony Blair makes a nonsense of claims that Friday's wedding has modernised a fundamentally Conservative institution

Of course it was a snub. The Royal Family wouldn't be so vulgar as to do it in the open, so there was a cover story, but it was a snub.

The cover story, which had the technical advantage of being true, was that protocol allowed Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to be left off the guest list. But it was a flying buttress of piffle.

If you care to follow me, I can explain the intricacies of precedent that sustain this nonsense. You do not need to immerse yourself in the angels and pinheads, because they are beside the point, but if you stay with it there is a kind of Catch-22 charm to the idiocy of it all.

The wedding was not a state occasion because it didn't involve the monarch herself or the heir to the throne, which makes it different from the one in 1981, which did. For a state occasion, the angels on a pinhead say that former prime ministers may be invited, as they were 30 years ago. For a non-state occasion, they get the gold-edged card only if they are Knights of the Garter or the Thistle, personally appointed by the Queen. And Tony Blair and Gordon Brown aren't, although that only rephrases the snub question in a different form, namely "why not?", as there are currently two vacancies in the Order of the Garter.

Anyway, they're not knights of either order, so it had "simply not crossed Prince William's mind" and – give a gong to the anonymous spin-courtier who thought up this gem – "we have had to draw the line somewhere".

So where, Sir, shall we draw it? Who can doubt that, when the protocol wallah presented the draft list to the Prince and his grandmother, Blair and Brown's names were not on it? The wallah, or one of the spin-courtiers, may then have murmured that some of the newspapers might notice that two former Labour prime ministers weren't invited but that Baroness Thatcher and John Major were. And then what? Did the Prince leap up and say, "Bugger protocol, they were the people's prime ministers, they'll have to come"? We think not. Apparently, he and Kate could "break with tradition" to issue a message in the order of service thanking people for their good wishes, but not to invite Blair and Brown.

Nor, on this occasion, is my judgement clouded by my opinion that Blair was, on balance, quite a good prime minister (we'll come to Brown in a moment). It was the Daily Mail that first reported this gap in the guest list, last weekend, and The Sunday Telegraph that first took offence, before the Mail returned to it, carrying a remarkable leading article on Wednesday, saying, "This paper never held a torch for Tony Blair." Which is true in the sense that it never held a torch for Myra Hindley either. But it described the decision not to invite the former prime ministers as "a shabby, divisive and deeply unwise step for the monarchy".

So it was a snub. But why? The former PM and his wife are "completely mystified", the IoS can reveal. Well, we can guess. For all the nonsense about how this wedding symbolised the "modernisation" of the Royal Family, the establishment is alive, well and fighting back. It regarded Blair, with Brown his appendage, as a mortal threat to Conservative home counties civilisation as it knows it.

With the disclaimers that apply to mere speculation, the specific reasons why the Royal Family might be happy to allow protocol to exclude Blair and Brown include:

1. The Windsors cannot forgive Blair for helping to save them from the nation's dangerously angry mood after the death of Princess Diana. This is stinking ingratitude and deeply unfair, but it is how the vindictive classes work.

2. Blair's memoir. In it, he boasted about saving the monarchy while typically recognising that this might stoke resentment: "The Palace had asked me to read a lesson [at Diana's funeral]. It was a mark of how pivotal my role had been through the week, but I also knew it would lead to a charge of 'muscling in'. Indeed, throughout, we were walking a tightrope, thinner and more frayed by the day, between organising everything to go well and 'cashing in' or exploiting." Worse, he quoted liberally from the Queen. This is against the rules that are designed to avoid letting "light in on the magic" and which she guards jealously. Serious danger of a Victorian sense of humour failure.

3. Blair's book also includes an account of a conversation with Prince William, aged 15, in the days after Diana's death. He was "grieving but angry", and Blair provides a cost-benefit analysis on his behalf: "For all the sense of duty, the prison walls of hereditary tradition must have seemed too high a price to pay."

4. Brown's cancellation of the replacement for Britannia, the royal yacht.

5. Labour's spiteful (as the Royal Family sees it) ban on hunting. (That Blair was personally opposed to a ban presumably cuts little mustard.)

6. Cherie's reluctance to curtsy, or to conceal her republican tendencies.

7. Blair's expulsion of the hereditary peers from the House of Lords.

8. Blair made the Queen sing "Auld Lang Syne" in the Dome at the millennium. And then wrote a funny account of it in his memoir.

Who, then, should take responsibility for the lack of an invitation? William may have taken offence at Blair's conduct in 1997, or at the words in his book, but that the Royal Family corporately, led by the Queen, "held no torch" for him, seems the most likely reason. They are not exactly Labour – a lack of sympathy that may well be shared by the Middleton family. Yet it seems that the animosity was also personal with regard to Blair. It is hard to imagine that the Queen would have been fond of Brown. For example, during a visit to the London School of Economics in November 2008, she said of the financial crash: "Why did nobody notice it?" Even if she had been, he could hardly have been invited and Blair not.

David Cameron should share some of the blame. He surely should have intervened to advise the Royal Family that it was engaged on a foolish and dangerous course. But he and the Royal Family seem to share a blind spot, in that they fail to see that their unthinking Conservatism will be perceived as spite.

Cameron showed his true colours in a radio interview 12 days ago when he, apparently casually, spiked Brown's chances of the job of head of the International Monetary Fund. For all the Conservative leader's attempts to modernise his party, and for all the admiring commentary about William and Kate presenting a modern face of the monarchy, both institutions remain deeply Conservative.

It was noticeable to the normal television viewer, but not presumably to those who saw the lists in advance, that there were many Conservative politicians at the abbey, including George Osborne, William Hague, Theresa May, Kenneth Clarke, Sir John Major and Lord Hurd. But only one Liberal Democrat, Nick Clegg, and two Labour politicians, Ed Miliband and Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales.

For Cameron and the Royal Family, so-called modernisation is a tactic, a way of using the enemy's weapons to roll back the advance of New Labour. Their vision of "ordinary" Britain is a trestle-table, Berkshire golf-club version, and Tony Blair symbolises everything that they hate and fear. As David Starkey wrote last week: "A national monarchy has become a home counties one; the symbol, not of the nation, but of comfortable Britain."

Additional research by Charlie Cooper

Guest-list talking points – the celebrity inclusions and controversial omissions

Why were they there?

David Beckham

The LA Galaxy star Beckham and William, as president of the FA, became friends when they were closely involved as ambassadors of England's failed 2018 World Cup bid. David and wife Victoria arrived early at the wedding, but he mistakenly wore his OBE on his right lapel.

Sir Elton John

A good friend of Prince William's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The last time he was at Westminster Abbey he performed an emotional rendition of 'Candle in the Wind' at her funeral in 1997. Attending with his partner David Furnish, the emotional Elton had tears in his eyes during the service.

Rowan Atkinson

The actor and comedian is a close friend of Prince Charles. The Blackadder and Mr Bean star also appeared at the comedy gala We Are Most Amused in 2008 a special show to celebrate the Prince's 60th birthday. Atkinson took a pew alongside Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Ben Fogle.

Guy Ritchie

The film director who made the cult 1990s film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but is still best known as Madonna's former husband, was listed in the invitations as "a friend of Prince William and Kate Middleton". The Prince's spokesman declined to offer an explanation on how the three knew each other.

Joss Stone

The soul singer, from Devon, was reported to have become close to William when she performed at a memorial concert in 2007, which marked the 10th anniversary of Diana's death. The friendship is reported to have blossomed after the concert, although this was dismissed as rumour at the time.

Why weren't they there?

Gordon Brown

The wedding was not a state occasion and did not involve the Queen herself, so former prime ministers were invited only if they were Knights of the Garter or the Thistle. Mr Brown and Mr Blair are not, although there are currently two vacancies in the Order of the Garter.

Tony Blair

St James's Palace said there was "no protocol reason" to invite Mr Blair or Mr Brown, and disputed the comparison with the Prince of Wales's wedding to Diana, when former prime ministers were invited. A spokesman said that because it was a private wedding, the couple were entitled to invite whoever they wanted.

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York

The Duchess has endured a disastrous 12 months, in which she tried to sell access to Prince Andrew for £27,000 in a newspaper sting, while reportedly struggling debts of £5m. Fergie said she "never expected" to be invited, adding that should would have missed the ceremony in any case because of "private plans overseas".

Paul Burrell

Diana's former butler sold his story in his book The Way We Were: Remembering Diana and in so doing became an occasional entertainment celebrity. He was formerly the Queen's footman and describes himself as a "noted authority on all things regal".

Lily Allen

The former singer turned fashionista tweeted her outrage at not being invited despite performing at the Concert for Diana in 2007. "Why does bloody Joss Stone get an invite and not moi? I sang at the Diana concert too!" she wrote.

Andrew McCorkell

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone