Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Wills' wheels: making the right choice

‘Tube strike to hit Will’s big day’ screamed the headlines in the evening papers the other day.

For those of you who don’t closely follow the doings of minor celebrities in Britain, let me explain that we have a character over here called ‘Prince William’, popularly known as ‘Wills’. That nickname always puts me in mind of a collection of documents concerning a succession. That may not be inappropriate, since nothing he does in his life is going to be more important than what he inherits.

I'm given to understand that this spring he’s due to marry a woman called ‘Kate’. This I suppose is what is meant by his big day.

Interesting that the papers didn’t seem to think it was her big day too. That may be an oversight or it might be evidence of rarely displayed insight. After all, recent experiences of women marrying into the royal family haven’t been been particularly edifying. Perhaps the editors are hedging their bets, just in case for Kate it turns out to be an ominous day to forget, rather than a big day to cherish.

The tube, of course, is the London Underground. Staff on the tube have been taking a series of one-day strikes in recent months in protest at the stringent limitations now being put on pay, as a consequence of the government’s initiative to save the economy through austerity. It is a central plank of the government’s approach that cutbacks are to be applied fairly, and indeed it isn’t only on the Underground that people are complaining: London bankers, for instance, have been much in the news recently for their resistance of equally draconian attempts to rein back their bonuses.

Of course, the difference between the bankers and the tube employees is that the each banker’s bonus would cover the salary of forty or fifty train drivers, and the bankers will lean on the government and get their way, while the tube people will strike and fail.

But what fascinated me was that the planned action was going to have such an impact on poor Wills. I had no idea he was planning to travel by tube on that day. Usually these characters get some kind of funeral cortege together, with dozens of cars full of the self-selected great and good, and cavalry men clip-clopping along with shiny helmets and red tunics. They then proceed to jam up the streets of the capital for several hours. You’ve got to admit that it’s admirable of Wills to have chosen to cram into a heaving carriage on the Central or Piccadilly line along with the rest of us. It’s a nice popular touch, but it must have been a bit of a sacrifice to give up the chauffer-driven limousine.

Perhaps that’s what the Unions were thinking of. By striking on that day, they’ll be giving him every pretext to get out the big car after all, which should be a relief to him.

Wills: displaying the common touch, and an unsuspected talent for funny faces
So I think the papers may have got it wrong: far from hitting Wills' big day, it may be that the strikers are expressing their royal fervour and making sure things will be just as he would wish.


Anonymous said...

Did you know that The Independent has a no royal photo policy?
And no, I have no plans to go see The King's Speech.


David Beeson said...

Sad to have made myself unworthy of the Independent.

Sad too about not seeing 'The King's Speech' - the performances are electrifying. Curious, too, that the abdication period seems to be attracting so much attention at the moment - the remake of 'Upstairs, Downstairs', and extended part of 'Any human heart', and now this film. It's like British preoccupations with Indian independence in the eighties.