Talbot Church: Queen to 'keep it real' on big day

The man the Royals trust...

Wednesday 23 February 2011 01:00

There has been quiet amusement in palace circles at a bizarre outburst from one the Royal Family's staunchest supporters, the commentator Melanie Phillips. Smarting at her exclusion from the Royal Wedding invitation list, monarchist Mel has accused Prince William and Kate Middleton of pandering to the celebrity culture by inviting a famous footballer and some successful musicians. There was a time, she mused, when the Royal Family used to mix with foreign royalty and members of the aristocracy. "What was prized was a person's worthiness or achievement," she said. Seeing the cream of society gather in Westminster Abbey "makes us all feel better about ourselves".

As usual, "the Firm" is one step ahead. The reason why a three-tier invitation has been sent out is to ensure that traditional values are maintained without any danger of the Royal Family being accused of elitism or even snobbery.

The majority of 1,923 invitations sent out last week will be to the ceremony and the post-wedding party, events which Prince Philip has described with characteristic wit as "the usual vulgar knees-up for the plebs". Choreographed by the celebrity event organiser Peregrine Armstrong-Jones, they will be showily elegant. "The Queen agrees with Peregrine that we should 'keep it real'," a courtier said. "There will be all sorts of marvellously real people – tattoos, kids, gays, funny hairstyles and accents, the lot."

The dinner, on the other hand, will be a more discreet, relaxed affair, from which those who are likely to be feel socially out of their depth will be spared. Those of us attending are anticipating the sort of soirée one might expect at a weekend party at a country house: cigars, butlers, agreeable wine and chat about shooting. As a concession to the occasion, though, the ladies will not be retiring before the port is served.

* The role of embarrassing uncle at the wedding will not, after all, be played by Gary Goldsmith, the high-spirited brother of Carole Middleton, but Prince Edward. Keen to relaunch a disastrous media career, "Eddie", as he now insists on being called, has asked to film the event – or, rather, as he puts it in a leaked email to Prince Charles, "go digital with the YouTube generation". The idea is being politely discouraged.

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