The royal family and me

Talking to some people about the exhibition of pictures of the Queen that I saw on Thursday (and talked about in my last post), I realised that I am maybe unusual amongst my generation in finding so many of the pre-1990 portraits to be over-familiar.

Yeah, yeah, that soft-focus one of the Queen and the Queen Mum and Princess Margaret in the horrible purple robes, seen it dozens of times, bo-ring.

This may be because not everyone was brought up on a diet of colour supplements of the royal family.

At primary-school age, I knew who every member of the immediate royal family was, and could make a decent stab at the less-related ones (Princess Michael did confuse me a bit).   I could tell you the first dozen in line to the throne in order.  And what’s more, I thought that anyone who didn’t know this information was really under-educated.  Surely it was just a required part of your general knowledge?

When the Queen came to visit the factory where my Dad worked, we stood out on a corner of our street to watch her car go past – the only ones there.

I remember my gran liking the royals, particularly the Queen.  I guess I think of that mostly as a wartime thing, but of course as we were growing up there was so much going on – the biggest one of course being the wedding of Charles and Di.

I have a really strong image of sitting watching the royal wedding at my Gran’s house, squashed into her living room watching hours of  TV.  But given that I was not even 4 when Charles and Diana married, I’m probably conflating the wedding of Andrew and Fergie.  I’m pretty sure that the wedding I was watching was in colour, which would fit with it being 1986, and would explain why we were at my gran’s house (I’m pretty sure we didn’t have colour TV till the end of the 80s, I think the 1988 Olympics.  Yes, we were the last people in our street, by a very long way.)

I had a terrible book about the Charles and Diana wedding which was drawn by some kid and was all about fairytales and princesses and suchlike.   Maybe it’s still in the loft somewhere.  It was quite strange.  We also had the proper glossy souvenir book.   And read a great deal of articles about the royals.  Am I wrong in thinking that they were a much bigger deal in the 80s, even when you take the William and Kate wedding into account?  I just don’t think we had as many celebrities then.

I wouldn’t say that the royal family was a particular interest of mine as a child, more just a natural part of the furniture.  As the years have gone on, I no longer keep track of events.  I couldn’t tell you who many of the minor royals are married to, and I just realised on looking up the line of succession on wikipedia that I didn’t even know about one of the Queen’s grandchildren (Viscount Severn, 8th in line to the throne. ) My 10-year-old self would not forgive me for this lapse.

Now that I no longer have any interested person to keep me in touch with royal news, the royals feel like the edges of my own family that I’ve gradually lost touch with.  They’ve just finally sunk below the Christmas card line.  And once the Queen goes, I’d vote for republicanism in a heartbeat.

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