There's the event itself. And then there's the moment after it. People milling around. Waiting. The event could be a scrum. Some kind of big party to launch... absolutely anything. A scent, a book, a personality, a wedding.
And then. There's always an after-party, something upstairs in the hotel, a little dinner, a smaller, more special affair. That's what people want to be asked to, the after-party.
It's the hottest ticket, the ultimate filtration; the first list is that broad ex-officio one, the media people – anyone serious who'll cover it, plus a few cute kids, bloggers, arts-school magazine people. Models. Younger, prettier people to leaven the lump. The distributors, the Smiths and Waterstones people if you're selling books, the department stores if it's scent. The home team, the publisher, the scent licensee. The helpers, the pretty PR girls who do guest-list clipboarding and goodie-bag distribution.
But you just know there's going to be an after-party when the star/author /designer meets a much smaller group. When somebody will whisper "d'you want to come on upstairs to dinner? It's just Mr X and a few friends so don't say anything".
The Royal wedding, as you might expect, is going to be an elaborately tiered matrix of events and people. And the Royal planners have done a lot of elaborately tiered matrixing in their time. I imagine it's like something out of The Armstrong and Miller show – today's Sloane telly comics, the Boden-boys for now – where they're working on one of those wartime RAF plane-planning boards. Thinking who goes where. First here's the ceremony, everyone goes to that. All 1,300. Then there's the lunch the Queen's giving at Buckingham Palace, for 600. And then. And then there's a dinner party for 300 friends in the evening. And the question is, who gets to that one and why? And how do they get told?
Imagine the pages. Down the side are the segments – the groups you've got to cover off. There are always more for anything Royal because you've got to do the dignitaries – the PM, Chancellor, Leader of the Opposition stuff. Then there's The Firm itself, The British Royal Family, about 50 of them. And the firm's extended family, the sashed and medalled Euro-royals, and then the roll-call of other Kings and Sheiks and Ab-dabs (many of them Middle-Eastern and probably a bit pre-occupied now).
Then there are the charities – a hugely important group in royal lists because a lot of the Big Society, long before anyone called it that, gets involved or rewarded in a range of the Royal charities. And then there are the friends, the school and university ones. The Boujis' and Mahiki's ones? His army ones? Their house-sharers from St Andrews? Her relations (how close, how many generations?)
Across the top of those pages are the events; with people filtered from left to right : Ceremony and Breakfast Only, Plus Lunch and Plus Evening. Do golden people get three separate invitations with "burnished" gold bits on them? Or a colour-coded book of tickets? Or something pretty pinned to them with a ribbon – a smart version of an Access All Areas badge?
And what if the 82 year old Kabaka of Bong, deciding whether to spend a couple of billion on crowd-control technology in Britain, France or the US, particularly wants to join the young couple in the evening? Is the PM in the inner, evening circle? Are the Beckhams?
What will be the demographic make-up of that 300? What considerations shaped the long debate on people and priorities? Whatever happens, it'll all have been miles more elaborate than any wedding since the last major royal one. And already eager beavers in departments of sociology and history in universities up and down the country – the ones who want to write the successor to Anthony Sampson's Anatomy of Britain, for the next decade – will be setting up to analyse and decode those lists and see exactly who goes where in Modern Britain.
- More about:
- Festive Events (including Carnivals)
- The Royal Family
- University Of The Arts London