His history lessons may not have impressed the layabouts from Jamie’s Dream School, but David Starkey is back in his comfort zone this evening. This means he spends much of Romance and the Royals walking slowly towards the camera and talking about the British monarchy. To be honest, in all the hubbub surrounding this weekend’s royal wedding, it’s nice to see a programme offering a slightly different angle on the big day. We at OTB are as excited about the wedding as the next website, but even we will be relieved when we can finally open a newspaper without seeing articles discussing which socks Prince William will wear for the ceremony and the rest of it.*
Starkey starts this jaunt down memory lane by explaining how Wills and Kate met at the aristo networking hub of St Andrews University. But just when the whole thing looks like going off on that social mobility debate that Andrew Neill covered earlier in the year, Starkey gets all medieval on us.
The latest royal union (Starkey loves that word..) had been billed as ground-breaking in many quarters on account of the fact that Kate Middleton was essentially a ‘commoner’ whose great grandfather worked in a coal mine (the depravity!!) We all read the ‘Pit to Palace’ headlines and struggled to work out that “doors to manual” joke, but the reality is that Kate Middleton is about as common as sunshine at Glastonbury. To prove a point, her parents even offered to pay for half the wedding. Girls with rich/noble parents have been marrying kings for centuries in Britain says Starkey..
Our host then indulges himself by giving us a brief overview of our beloved monarchy (I’m sure he’s unable to talk to anyone for more than a couple of minutes without breaking into it – kind of like a long-winded and educational form of Tourette’s) but he also finds time to make one of the boldest claims of his career. All those centuries ago when Europe’s other royals were marrying for political gain, our rulers also valued the idea of love as a method of choosing a spouse. Therefore it is us – and not the French – who invented romance! That’s definitely worth another public holiday..
*You could be in for a long wait -ed