Harriet Walker: Andrew Marr's fawning at the Queen's cottage sums up our new Dark Ages

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The Independent Online

Leaving aside the quite stomach-turning nature of both Squidgygate and Fergie-gets-her-toes-sucked-on-a-sunbed-gate, it seemed until recently that we had entered an Age of Enlightenment with regard to the Royal Family.

It was OK to laugh at them, to point out their pointlessness, to roll your eyes whenever anyone mentioned the Queen's exhaustingly hectic schedule of opening hospitals and inaugurating high teas. But, while that sort of reaction might not get you thrown into the Tower these days, it's certainly deemed somewhat uncouth, adolescent even: essentially, not the done thing during this era of New Feudalism.

It was an aberration then, our brief moment of revolutionary sentiment. We could hear the foundations of the Second Republic crumbling with the announcement of Kate's and Wills' engagement; by the time febrile national sentiment had reached an entirely unironic high, we knew that the ground we had gained post-Diana was lost once more. And when Andrew Marr (Andrew Marr! He's Scottish, for goodness' sake!) appeared on television this week to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, we huddled round our sets like grateful villeins, our licence fees this year practically a tithe on our crops for the privilege of watching all the poshos cavort with Sir Paul McCartney in June.

Marr lurked and skulked among the royals like Uriah Heep seeking a knighthood, prancing through Princess Beatrice's newly refurbished Petit Trianon and marvelling at her taste in curtains, failing to notice the two-bedroom cottage that remains unused but for teddy bears' picnics during a housing crisis.

And then came the stories of the princes being deployed to the Falklands and Afghanistan, unalloyed gloop that made no mention of the costs, not to mention the unnecessarily colonial bombast, that this would entail. And let's not forget the recent suggestion that we should all cough up for a new yacht. We are being led back to the Dark Ages by a government that can't see anything wrong with the Divine Right. And why should it? Most of them have done fairly well out of being patrician themselves.

We had a brilliant moment of anti-royalist clarity. We were like Milton before he got cataracts and a death threat. A Labour government and a consensus on the absurdity of the House of Windsor. But now we're back to tugging our forelocks, the past decade an anomaly of the past 1,000 years. God help us when Kate Middleton gets pregnant; we'll be asking her to cure us of scrofula next.