Disappointingly unsubtle royal wedding snubs
The decision to snub former Labour prime ministers while inviting their Conservative counterparts to the royal wedding (alongside the current occupant of Number 10) is cheap. Cheaper still is the justification we have been offered.
As Blair and Brown aren't Knights of the Garter, an exclusive order of chivalry the appointment to which is one of the monarchs last remaining truly personal prerogatives, St. James Palace says they'll be watching the ceremony from the comfort of their living rooms.
We are told this would be different if it was an official state occasion, but the media were briefed in November that the ceremony was to be a mongrelised semi-state affair. As far as I can tell, the only reason for this arrangement is that the alternative would be political suicide for the monarchy: the taxpayer picking up a seven-figure tab for the nuptials while the truly vulnerable have their services slashed (with no wedding cake either).
Prince William's private secretary told hacks last year:
All parties involved in the wedding, not least Prince William and Miss Middleton, want to ensure that a balance is struck between enjoying the day and the current economic situation.
In financial arrangements which are still unclear, the exchequer is paying for security costs and military personnel, while the Windsor and Middleton families will be meeting at least some of the other associated and consequential costs on a personal basis. This would not be possible in a full occasion of state.
With his closeness to black sheep Princess Diana and commitment to banning fox hunting, one can fathom why Tony Blair, in particular, might not be welcomed with open arms by some royals. His scouse wife's indiscreet memoirs won't have helped his case either. But with the civil service's penchant for nuance, there must surely be more diplomatic snubs available. Why not give Tony and Cherie an obstructed view next to the Westminster Abbey toilet queue? After all, spending time with people they don't like is what we pay the Windsors for.
A snub to Labour prime ministers on the basis of semi-state arrangements is a partisan, transparent ruse that damages royal neutrality and, having interrupted the wholly fawning coverage of the wedding, St. James Palace officials must surely be regretting by now. Perhaps Ed Miliband should be watching his doormat for some form of royal rapprochement later this year.