Let’s enjoy a knees-up we’re all (sort of) invited to

I’M DETECTING a lot of apathy, a good deal of cynicism and just the faintest aroma of outrage about the forthcoming royal nuptials.
There are plenty of people only too keen to tell you why they don’t give a monkey’s about two super-privileged individuals tying the knot.
Others will cry foul at the public money being lavished on this grand affair to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton during this time of austerity.
Then there are those to whose only interest is that they may get a day off work – or be paid extra for going in on what has been declared a national holiday.
I think this is a real shame and that some people are rather missing the point.
The royals are, as always, an easy target for critics but I have to confess I have a real soft spot for the monarchy – unlike many of my colleagues, it seems.
I guess this dates back to the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977 when, as a five-year-old, I attended a party down the street at Marie MacDonald’s house.
It is one of my earliest happy memories – a blur of Union Flag bunting, triangle sandwiches, cakes, jelly and ice cream, and lots of sunshine.
Four years later, I was one of the generation of Potteries schoolchildren who collected coins, ceramic money boxes and first day covers of stamps commemorating the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.
My mum’s still got them all.
Even to a young lad from Sneyd Green, Diana seemed like a breath of fresh air for the House of Windsor and like so many others I fell under the spell of the awkward, pretty princess.
When the fairytale ended in divorce and very public recriminations I felt saddened – not only for those involved – but also that those fond memories of national togetherness had been scrubbed away.
Suddenly all the memorabilia seemed cheapened and the reputation of the royal family irredeemably tarnished.
Over the years, through my job, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Prince Charles, Prince Edward and even the late Princess Diana herself.
Granted, the latter was a brief conversation during a Sunday afternoon visit to Alton Towers with the two young princes but it is still indelibly stamped on my mind.
When Diana died I wasn’t afflicted by the strange, paralysing phenomenon of the national out-pouring of grief.
In truth, I found the whole spectacle of people shedding tears for someone they didn’t personally know rather bizarre and unnecessary.
However, I felt sorrow at the tragic waste of life and my thoughts turned to those left behind – principally Princes William and Harry.
Say what you like about their silver-spoon upbringing and their unique forces careers but I have an awful lot of time for the two lads who followed that gun carriage flanked by Welsh Guardsmen which carried their mother’s coffin through the streets of London.
Yes, they enjoy a lifestyle the rest of us can only dream of but, in truth, I wouldn’t swap places with them for a life so regimented and microscopically-scrutinised.
Having said that, I admire the monarchy and I’m truly glad we have one.
It is one of the few things which makes the United Kingdom different and yes, it does the tourism industry in this country no harm whatsoever.
The royal family is also, like sport, one of the few things which has the potential to bring us together in celebration and foster a sense of national pride. Heaven knows we need a little bit of that right now.
So forget the mealy-mouthed nay-sayers. Forget business owners. Forget the unions. Forget the arguments over Bank Holiday pay.
Let’s enjoy April 29 for what it is – a wedding to which we are all (sort of) invited.
Let’s buy some new crocks with pictures of Wills and Kate, stick up some flags and be happy for a young couple in love.
Yours truly will be at his daughter’s school in the run up to the big day, hosting a celebration party for 200 children with cakes and jelly and bunting.
They won’t care about the cost to the taxpayer or who designed the bride’s dress.
But they will be happy for the happy couple – and make a few memories that might just last a lifetime.

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