Peter Hoskin

From the archives: the marriage of Charles and Diana

It is just under thirty years since Prince William’s parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, were themselves married in St Paul’s Cathedral. Below are two Spectator articles relating to that wedding. The first is the Spectator editorial from the time, the second an essay by Auberon Waugh on the lessons to be drawn from the occasion. Now that Kate Middleton has become Princess Catherine, you may also want to click here for an article entitled “What Kate should know,” by Diana’s former private secretary, Patrick Jephson, for The Spectator in 1996. Anyway, back to 1981…

The symbol of unity, The Spectator, 1 August 1981

The marriage of the heir to the British throne inevitably leads one to reflect on the on the monarchy and its function today. There are two broad categories of government in western democracies — those where the head of state is a ceremonial and symbolic figure with little or no “power”, and those where the head is a real ruler. The two obvious examples of the latter type are the USA and France. The former category is much more common, and it also has two divisions, elective presidencies and hereditary monarchies. On the whole the hereditary monarchies have been losing the struggle for survival. Before 1914 France, Portugal and Switzerland were the only European republics. The first world war produced a holocaust of dynasties, especially those of the “Great Powers”, with Britain alone remaining a kingdom. The Romanovs, Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs vanished. The new states — Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Finland — were republics. Monarchies survived in the Balkans, in Spain and Italy, in Belgium and the Netherlands, and in Scandanavia. The second world war saw the end of the Italian monarchy and all the Balkan kingdoms except Greece. That too has gone now, but Spain which became a republic in 1931 has had a king as head of state since Franco’s death six years ago.

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