Joan Smith: Grovelling and indignation are English specialities

Share
Related Topics

A prince marrying a commoner, with time off for the serfs; two posh blokes and a squeaky-voiced footballer pleading for England to be allowed to host the 2018 World Cup; who says this country doesn't know how to present a bold modern face to the world? Me for one, and I'm still squirming with embarrassment when I think of the antiquated, snobbish and indeed delusional image the English (not the Scots or the Welsh, obviously) have projected in recent months.

Actually, that should have been three posh blokes. For a blissful moment I forgot Boris Johnson, who pitched up in Zurich with fellow Old Etonians David Cameron and Prince William in an admirable illustration of the diversity of modern Britain. I have to say it would seem a little odd to me if three old girls from my alma mater in Basingstoke were sent to represent England at high-level international talks – and I speak as someone who was a few years ahead of that quintessentially English celebrity, Liz Hurley.

Some bright spark seems to have decided, however, that Johnny Foreigner at Fifa would be seduced by Prince William cracking jokes about his wedding. The English bid did not stand a chance with an organisation so manifestly unfit for purpose. But I also find it hard to think of a less convincing team than Cameron, Windsor and poor old Beckham. The weird accents, from posh to Essex; the Prime Minister's undignified appeal to delegates; that familiar sense of patronising entitlement and poorly disguised distrust of the outside world: I wonder if any other country (the US, perhaps?) has so much difficulty in seeing itself through other people's eyes. It was as bewildering as the moment last month when the nation or, more accurately, its self-appointed representatives in the fourth estate, went into swooning raptures about the second in line to the throne marrying a coal miner's granddaughter.

What on earth do the sane, modern bits of the world make of a country which appears to believe that flaunting a royal bride's "humble" origins is an indicator of meritocracy? It's not even as if Kate Middleton – Princess Catherine, as I suppose we'll be expected to call her after the wedding, in another shining example of the collapse of class barriers – did anything as plebeian as attend a state school. She went to Marlborough, the public school attended by Samantha Cameron, whose father is a baronet.

These nauseating royal effusions come from the very same news outlets which told us earlier this year that England could win the World Cup in South Africa. It's a fantasy they peddle every four years, and without acknowledging the fact that the national team isn't very good at football. Oh, and they also detected a late surge in support last week for England's 2018 bid, a piece of wishful thinking that verged on the delusional and cued an orgy of recrimination when England got two votes.

There are a lot of things the English should be proud of, from our versatile language to our championing of universal human rights (all right, there was a blip under Tony Blair, but all that rubbish about ID cards and 28-day detention is being dismantled). Fawning over the royals and the titled isn't one, and neither is an inflated sense of our importance in the world. Next time England needs international ambassadors, why not give the job to a couple of girls from Basingstoke? I'm game if Liz is.

www.politicalblonde.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front end web developer - URGENT CONTRACT

£250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...

Health & Social CareTeacher - Full time and Part time

£90 - £140 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: Sixth for...

History Teacher

£95 - £105 per day: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Plymouth i...

SQL Developer - Cardiff - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits and bonus: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer -...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Hislop the Younger, by-election polling and all about the olden days

John Rentoul
The bustling Accident & Emergency ward at Milton Keynes Hospital  

The NHS needs the courage to 'adapt and survive'

Nigel Edwards
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?