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1st May 2011
In all the kerfuffle over the Royal wedding (pictures – Daily Mail) including some rightful indignation over the guest list, commenters have all missed the obvious.
Even my good friend John Rentoul who is getting in touch with his inner Cromwell hasn’t mentioned the extent of these particular elements. (Oliver Cromwell was a prime mover in the execution of Charles 1st, since when other monarchs have dropped that unlucky name on ascending to the throne.)
Rentoul is spot-on in that today’s royal family could never forgive Blair for being right when they were all wrong on Diana’s death. But I hope to show that that is only a third of the story at most.
Execution by a thousand cuts?
Despite being in some state of terror as the repercussions of their silence on Diana’s death became clear, it is hardly likely that the royal family saw Blair as their likely executioner. Rightly too, as he was one of the most royalist Labour prime ministers ever. But the Royals are presently doing a
n execution double-airbrush job on Blair and on Diana’s memory for their own reasons.
Tony Blair was not invited to the wedding because his very presence would have reminded us of three things.
1. Diana’s Death
A few hours after the announcement of the death of Diana Princess of Wales the country’s new prime minister Tony Blair stood outside his church in Sedgefield and spoke to the country:
“She was the people’s princess. And that’s how she will stay, how she will remain, in our hearts and in our memories, forever.”
In our hearts and in our memories, forever?
“Forever” is clearly too long for Charles, Camilla his second wife and the real love of his life, and perhaps even the rest of the royals including Diana’s sons. They now have a new member of the firm. A woman who will, it is expected and hoped, be Queen one day. Before that day, the idea is to airbrush Diana from public memory.
Too cynical of me? I think not.
Can you imagine what it would have been like if Tony Blair had been at the Abbey? The cameras would have alighted on him, even putting this in the minds of the worldwide audience – “I wonder what Mr Blair is thinking as he watches Diana’s eldest son being married. Probably, as we all are – the ‘People’s Princess’ would have been very proud.”
Sounds innocent enough to you? It isn’t.
It wouldn’t be to the monarchy either. It would be a reminder of the part that Tony Blair took in rescuing the royals from their own inaction when a member of their family – possibly the most famous woman in the world at that time – had been killed in a car crash.
The royals who decided on this disgraceful omission of Tony Blair and as a result Brown – and it was the royals deciding, not their courtiers or the present government – would have realised there would be some flak over this. However they also knew that the pictures and memories of the wedding would make more impact than the fact that the two most recent former prime ministers – two former Labour prime ministers – had not been invited, though two former Conservative PMs had; Major & Thatcher.
That day in August 1997 Tony Blair spoke for the country. Like it or not, she was the People’s Princess. He said what any one of them could and should have said.
ROYAL SILENCE SPOKE VOLUMES
Several days after Diana died the Royals had still not publicly mentioned her passing or the accident, even as thousands mourned and gathered outside the Palace waiting for them to speak. No flags had been lowered as a mark of respect or momentous happening. It was as though nothing significant had occurred. The first reaction was almost a week later on September 4th and was by the Queen’s press secretary, Geoffrey Crawford. Not by Prince Charles. Nor by Her Majesty the Queen.
See – Queen’s spokesman speaks on Diana’s death, on behalf of royal family and here – Excerpt –
“The princess was a much-loved national figure, but she was also a mother whose sons miss her deeply. Prince William and Prince Harry themselves want to be with their father and their grandparents at this time in the quiet haven of Balmoral, the queens press secretary, Geoffrey Crawford, said. It was the first royal reaction to public suggestions that the family should do more to help the country grieve. The queen also plans to make a broadcast to the nation on Friday, Buckingham Palace said.”
Eventually, several days after her death came a royal public appearance. Probably only because the future star of The Queen had warned them of this:
‘One of the Queen’s most trusted former advisers has disclosed that she feared that republican MPs would call for an end to the monarchy because of public anger at the Royal Family’s initial reaction to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. As the clamour for the Royal Family to leave Balmoral intensified, amid rows over whether the Union flag should be flown at half mast at Buckingham Palace, the “ferocity” of the media criticism stung even the most seasoned advisers. Mrs Francis said that harsh lessons were learned by the Royal Family and its advisers about the need to respond to public opinion.
“If the response had not been made we might have seen events develop in a different way and even political calls for some kind of republican action,” she said.
Penny Junor, a royal biographer, tells the programme: “The whole family was in danger. The minute Prince Charles heard Diana had been killed his first words were: ‘They are going to blame me”.’
Really? Were those Charles’ s first words? For himself? Not for his sons? [See lessons learnt]
Blair was credited with having encouraged the Royal Family in responding, even if belatedly. It was clearly no longer possible for them not to speak. Those who distrust or dislike Tony Blair will maintain that he muscled in where it was none of his business. Most of the country will not see it that way. Without him the royal family could easily have been sunk in 1997.
Interestingly the Wikipedia entry on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales fails to mention the name of Tony Blair. In fact that entry seems to have been compiled by those who attribute her death to a conspiracy. Presumably they conclude that Blair was in on this “murder plot”.
As we all know, there was no-one else, commoner or royalty who responded to her death more appropriately than Tony Blair. No-one.
At another Wikipedia page on Diana Tony Blair’s name is mentioned; once.
Posthumously, as in life, she is most popularly referred to as “Princess Diana”, a title she never held.[N 4] Still, she is sometimes referred to (according to the tradition of using maiden names after death) in the media as “Lady Diana Spencer”, or simply as “Lady Di”. After Tony Blair’s famous speech she was also often referred to as the People’s Princess.
Reaction to Diana’s death here, Wikipedia
FLAGS AT HALF MAST
The year following, on the date of her death, royal flags were allowed to fly at half mast. For no subsequent years, just 1998. A sop to a still grieving public, imho.
At the time it took a public press furore for the flag to be lowered and this only happened as the Queen went to Diana’s funeral a week after her death.
Flags at royal residences will fly at half-mast in respect for Diana, Princess of Wales on the first anniversary of the death. The Queen has ruled that all flags at royal residences will be lowered to half-mast on Monday August 31, Buckingham Palace has announced. The government has decided to follow suit, ordering the move at public buildings.
The announcement follows the angry public response to the royal family’s initial refusal to lower the flag at Buckingham Palace after Diana died. Tradition demands the Royal Standard flag is never flown at half-mast, even on the death of a monarch. But protocol was finally broken when the Queen left the palace to attend the princess’s funeral a week after her death.
The decision to fly flags at half-mast applies only to the first anniversary of Diana’s death, Buckingham Palace said.
It might be worth a mention that protocol, as it would be expected to apply, was also “broken” when Blair and Brown were not invited to the wedding of Prince William.
Aside: I happened to drive round Horseguards Parade at around midnight on the day Diana died. Ours was the only car passing the vehicle carrying Diana’s coffin. We realised what was passing us by, and came to a near stop. The coffin was covered by the Royal Standard.
Just as a by the way, the Moral Maze last night on BBC Radio 4 discussed the monarchy. One supporter of the monarchy said that it played a necessary part in keeping over-powerful politicians in their place (presumably down here with the rest of us?!)
The problem for Tony Blair (often cited as an over-powerful politician) was that in 1997 HE kept the monarchy in THEIR place.
Perhaps he should have let them drown in their own mire.
For the historians amongst us – (not that I’m suggesting anything, mind you. I very much admire The Queen.)
Quotes as ascribed to the Charles 1st court case and his execution:
Trial commencement, Jan 1st 1649, Charles was accused of being –
“tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England.”
Judge John Bradshaw said of Charles 1st –
“out of a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people of England.”
Bradshaw anounced the judgement of the court –
“he, the said Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy to the good of this nation, shall be put to death by severing of his head from his body.”
Charles’ last words to the crowd as he was taken to be exucuted at the end of the month-long trial –
“I have delivered to my conscience; I pray God you do take those courses that are best for the good of the kingdom and your own.”
It is said that when he was beheaded a large groan went up throughout the crowd. One observer in the crowd described it as “such a groan by the thousands then present, as I never heard before and I desire I may never hear again.”
Even in death, Charles found no dignity. Spectators were allowed to go up to the scaffold and, after paying, dip handkerchiefs in his blood as it was felt that the blood of a king when wiped onto a wound, illness etc. would cure that illness.
On the 6th February, 1649, the monarchy was abolished. Parliament stated that –
“the office of the king in this nation is unnecessary, burdensome and dangerous to the liberty, society and public interest of the people.”
More on the history of King Charles 1st
Since this little bit of recent royal history augmented by more ancient but perhaps equally interesting royal history has gone on a bit, reasons 2 & 3 on the failure to invite Tony Blair will follow.
Go to The Telegraph here to see 30 of the best royal wedding pictures. You know you want to.
- Part 3: “Grotesque”. Despots and Druggies with Royal “relationships” at William’s wedding
- A right Royal spin around the missing Garter: Pt 2 “The Royals & Something Red”
- A right Royal snub for the People’s Prime Minister: Pt 1 “The People’s Princess”
- William’s Wedding, Poll: Should Blair & Brown have been invited?
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)
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