We whoop and whimper as the world gives an almighty shrug

Our republican on the street

Johann Hari
Sunday 10 April 2005 00:00
Comments

"I think they should just be left alone to live their own lives," says Jean Lowen, 58, as she cranes her neck to catch a glimpse of Charles and Camilla. "I agree," says her friend. "It's cruel the way they're forced to live in the public gaze all the time and - wait - is that them? No, it's another police-woman."

Last time Charles Windsor got married, a billion people huddled around their televisions, a million people huddled around St Paul's Cathedral, and the bride wanted to turn around and run. This time, the televisions roam impatiently over a thousand channels and I am standing in the cold, surly streets of Windsor with the last foaming fans of monarchy.

The mood of the mob - a curious mixture of Barbour and Burberry, Queen Victoria and the Queen Vic - is bemused and bored as they wait for the royal cortège. "I thought they would put on clowns or something for the kids," says one mother. "Is this it?" asks another. Children scream. Parents moan. A few Union flags - provided by The Sun - are waved in the frosty wind. The biggest placards are huge arrows directing the crowds to the nearest McDonald's.

Then the TV cameras approach and everybody springs to vigorous, cheering life. "Whooh! Yeah!" shouts Jean. "Yay!" says her friend. "Charles! Camilla!" bleat the crowd. It's as if we are all conspiring in producing a media product, a propaganda video about a Prince-loving public. The cameras are switched off, and the crowd sags back into a sullen mass.

Somebody spots a group of celebrity lookalikes on a nearby balcony, employed to promote an online casino.

"Elton - sing us a song!" yells one man, to polite laughter. A few people join in. "Sing! Sing!" they chant. Apologetically, the mini-Elton says, "I'm a lookalike. I can't sing." The crowd falls silent then turns to the David Beckham lookalike. "Kick us a ball! Kick! Kick!"

A rumour ripples through the crowd: the couple aren't going to pass this way. "We're at the wrong place. They're not coming here," says one woman, angrily waving a newspaper map. Nobody moves. They carry on blankly staring at the empty space sealed off by metal railings, like cows in a field.

Just as I am about to gnaw off my left arm in boredom, a group of girls runs through chanting: "Diana will always be the queen of our hearts!" I rush up to Grace Michaels, 16, who explains: "There will always be three of them in that marriage. Diana will never die!"

A woman in her mid-fifties looks them up and down and says, "Listen love, we all wish it was Diana and Dodi getting married today, but they're dead. Just settle for this lot and wish them well." I ask the crowd what they would say to republicans.

"Get lost!" cries one. "You're sick! Why do you hate the royals?" demands another. But it's not republicans who are torturing the Windsor family, I say - it's monarchists. We want to set Charles Windsor and his family free to live normal, private lives in the Republic of Britain. Charles and Camilla could have married 30 years ago if it wasn't for the creepy demands of monarchists that Charles marry a virgin and produce an heir.

They glare, speechless, in my direction. "There they are!" screams somebody suddenly. The crowd pushes me aside and surges forward. "No, it's the lookalikes," somebody moans.

Hours pass; Charles and Camilla do not come.

And Out There - beyond the Windsor streets - I can feel the nation and the world giving an almighty shrug.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in